Descanso Gardens


PICS Organization Name
Descanso Gardens

La Canada Flintridge, California 

Organization Description

Once the family estate of E. Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News and commercial camellia grower, Descanso Gardens today is a 160 acre public garden loved by residents and visitors from around the world. An urban retreat of year-round beauty, Descanso is only 14 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Visitors can enjoy renowned botanical collections including: a 20-acre camellia forest, a 5-acre international rose garden, a Japanese-style garden and tea house, California native plants including a 1,100-tree Coast live oak forest, and an lilac garden. Descanso Gardens is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums as a museum of living things.

Descanso Gardens Mission:

"Descanso Gardens is a unique Southern California landscape distinguished by its specialized botanic collections, historical significance, and rare natural beauty. Our mission is to practice exemplary stewardship of Descanso's distinctive character and assets; offer people an experience close to nature; and cultivate understanding of the natural world and people's place in it through inspiration, education and example."

Working with past Princeton interns has allowed our organization to reflect on our practice and contribute to the education of future leaders in the non-profit field. In addition, Princeton interns have used their intelligence, energy, and creativity to help us deliver excellent visitor experiences and achieve our mission.

Internship Description

(Position 1): The intern will work with our Visitor Services Department for the duration of the internship, with a primary focus on a historical archives project. Descanso Gardens' archives includes documents, photographs, and ephemera related to the establishment of the organization, its botanical collection, major projects undertaken, and ongoing development of the gardens. The intern will gain an understanding of organizing and cataloguing archival materials and help the institution reach the goal of having an archives that is kept in conditions consistent with best practices in the field, and functions as a searchable and useful source of information about Descanso Gardens and related matters. In addition, intern may assist with work related to membership records and guest relations. In these roles, the intern will gain an understanding of working with membership data and delivering excellent customer service.

(Position 2): The Development Department internship is an opportunity to be immersed in a fast-paced development office. Projects will include day-to-day office tasks such as gift entry and acknowledgment, answering phones, and opening mail; as well as assisting with prospect research related to Descanso's capital campaign, and assisting with the early planning phases for our 2022 gala. The intern will work within the donor database and other applications to generate reports and find information related to donors' giving history that will be useful within the context of a capital campaign. The intern will interact with members, donors, board members and the public.

Weekly Stipend # of Weeks Required Dates Start Time End Time Housing Provided? Public Transportation? Certificate Requirement? Can be Remote?
Approx. $500 8 6/14/21 - 8/6/21 8:30 am 5:00 pm No No No No

Internship Qualifications

  • Interest in archives and collections care/management.
  • Interest in museums, gardening, botanical gardens, or botany.
  • Flexibility and ability to move from task to task and function effectively in a variety of work environments.
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  • Demonstrated highly effective organizational, interpersonal, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
  • Demonstrated effective verbal and written communication.
  • Good time management skills.

Additional Qualifications

The ideal candidate is a natural sleuth with a deep love of research, is organized, has strong communication skills, possesses a high degree of warmth and professionalism, and has good judgement especially as it relates to handling potentially sensitive or confidential information.

Former Interns
Olivia Hadley '21

Evaluation Excerpt

Descanso allows its visitors from the LA community a safe space in which they can connect with nature, which not only helps them to gain an appreciation for the environment, but time with nature has also been shown to improve mental health. Descanso frequently has school groups visit so that children can develop an appreciation for nature and stewardship, and also has a garden called the Harvest Garden in which disabled youth get an opportunity to garden and grow their own food. The work that I did at Descanso will provide the staff with a photographic record of the gardens’ history and development over the years in addition to providing an organizational framework for future archival projects at Descanso. 
--Olivia Hadley '21

I was immensely satisfied with all the work that I was given! For the majority of the internship I worked in the Education department, and participated in 4 weeks of the Descanso Discoveries camp. During the camp weeks, I helped my fellow teachers and educators create a curriculum that focused on personalized learning, creative expression, and an appreciation and understanding of nature.
—Evan Delgado '17