Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Ecosystem Design Group

Interns taking part in a controlled burn in the Savanna Meadow

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center exists to promote the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. In addition to 4 acres of native plant gardens and over two hundred acres of Texas Hill Country with nature trails, the center's Ecosystem Design Group engages in ecologic restoration project consulting, graduate level ecology and design education, LID research and workshops, green roof research, native turf grass development, native vegetation survey and research, invasive plant management, and fire ecology research.

The Ecosystem Design Group Internship Program at the Wildflower Center offers undergraduate and graduate students real world experience in the challenging and rewarding field of ecosystem design. Students will have an opportunity to work with design group staff on large scale restoration projects, sustainable technology research, and internal firm organization. The goal of the Ecosystem Design Group is to increase landscape performance and ecological capacity in a sustainable practice.

Our group works directly with clients on master planning projects as well as with design professionals such as landscape architects and civil engineers on integrated design teams. Our experience in scientific research, environmental design practice and professional and university education positions our group at the forefront of environmental issues and provides the foundation for our fee-based consulting services.

As the project leader of the national Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™), we spearheaded the development of comprehensive guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable landscapes similar to the LEED® rating system for green buildings. Our consulting projects reflect best practices based on research as well as those developed by the team of 70 experts who developed the SITES credits.

As an organized research unit of The University of Texas at Austin, we have contributed to scientific knowledge of fire ecology, green roofs, native turf grass and the use of landscapes to reduce carbon footprint. We also bring extensive and diverse experience from our work on high-impact projects for public and private clients, including national and regional parks, corporate headquarters, urban developments, institutional campuses, river restoration, state highways and botanic gardens. Our experienced team includes members trained in landscape architecture, ecology and sustainable design.

Depending upon current projects at time of internships, interns will assist environmental designers and land ecologists with consulting projects and research including design and implementation specifications, design graphics, fieldwork, data acquisition, applying SITES guidelines and benchmarks, etc.
A few project examples of increasing landscape performance and ecological capacity through science based knowledge are:

During the spring and fall programs, interns will assist with the preparation and execution of plant sales and other WFC events.

Typically, interns will determine a "goal" or project that can be finished by the completion of the program, determine a research subject (with approval of director), and write and present a technical research paper to the Ecosystem Design Group before conclusion of internship.

Each intern will be required to fulfill a minimum 20 hours per week during the times allotted for the individual program they were accepted. Candidates must be enrolled in landscape architecture, urban ecology, range management, or related field with an interest in ecosystem design. Candidates within a year of their graduation date will also be considered.

Schedule for Ecosystem Design Group Internship Programs



Start Date

End Date



July 12

September 2

December 15

20 hours per week


November 7

January 30

May 17

20 hours per week


March 11

June 3

August 9

20 hours per week

Please note that these are unpaid internships. One to three interns will be accepted each semester. Housing is not provided, but assistance locating accommodations is available. Please inquire if necessary.

How to apply
Applicants from both the United States and abroad are encouraged to apply. All applicants must complete and send in the following:

  • Resume with relevant coursework, work history, and software proficiency
  • Official college transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation that reflect academic and work experience
  • One page cover letter stating your interest in ecosystem design, what you would like to gain through the internship and why you would like to intern at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
  • Portfolio of projects for Landscape Architecture students

Email, mail or fax the cover letter, resume, transcripts and letters of recommendation to:

Michelle Bright
Environmental Designer
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Avenue
Austin, Texas 78739-1702
phone: 512.232.0133
fax: 512.232.0156

2013 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center