Gardening Internship at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center, Highlands, NC

 The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Highlands, NC on an 86 acre Conservation Easement.  We offer a variety of programming for our guests including environmental education and team building through outdoor initiatives, such as our low ropes-course and a 40’ high challenge course.  Our garden is about an acre and provides fresh produce for the dining hall and learning opportunities for our guests of all ages. All gardening procedures reflect organic principles.  We use a variety of non-chemical procedures to enrich the soil and manage insects and disease.

Intern Learning Opportunities:

We are seeking up to four interns to work with and learn from our Garden Manager in a Garden to Table program. The internship program has three areas of focus: growing the produce, getting the produce to the kitchen, and developing leadership skills. This Sustainable Agriculture and Experiential Education Internship program is designed to support the intern’s professional development for work in a variety of settings related to sustainable agriculture.


 This internship will involve completion of specific goals that support the acquisition of practical skills related to the following topics:

1.                   Sustainable Agriculture

a.                   Composting and vermiculture

b.                  Greenhouse management

c.                   Crop management and crop succession

d.                  Soil science and bed preparation

e.                  Pest and disease management

f.                    Chicken management

 2.                   Garden to Table Program

a.                   Sowing and transplanting

b.                  Harvest and post-harvest care

c.                   Education and outreach

d.                  Garden-kitchen  coordination

 3.                   Leadership and Facilitation

a.                   Group processing

b.                  Facilitation of the low-course and initiatives

c.                   Facilitation of the high-ropes challenge course

d.                  Personal development – social media or group facilitation

e.                  Professional staff meeting engagement

f.                    Volunteer, youth, and adult group facilitation


Intern Supervision:

Interns will be mentored by The Mountain’s Garden Manager, Bill Hagemann.  Bill’s enthusiasm about his work in the garden is a great combination with his degrees in Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Studies with concentrations in Environmental Education and Sustainable Agriculture from Warren Wilson College.  He has extensive experience in agricultural and environmental work, as well as supporting the learning of others. 

Intern Schedule:

Spring Internship— February 24 to August 4, 2015

Fall internship—August 11 to December 5, 2015

Intern Support: 

                    Shared on-site housing

                    Meals in the dining hall 

                    $200 per month stipend

                    Membership in the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT)

Intern Expectations:

                    Work 40 hours per week, Wednesday through Sunday. This will involve garden responsibilities, along with opportunities to work with the kitchen, youth programs, marketing, development, or guest programs on The Mountain. Interns will be able to develop knowledge and skills in individual interest areas.

                    Design and implement a project including social media or group facilitation.

                    Participate in staff meetings.

                    Engage as a team member, supporting the learning and work of other interns, volunteers, and guests (youth and adults).


Intern Application Process:

Spring Internship:

If you would like to be considered for this program, please apply by December 31, 2014.   

Intern selections will be made no later than January 10, 2014.

Fall Internship:

If you would like to be considered for this program, please apply by June 1, 2015.   

Intern selections will be made no later than June 15, 2015.


Email the following information to:

                    Your resume of experience and education

                    A cover letter explaining why you would like to be considered for this program and what you can contribute to this learning opportunity. 

                    Contact information for three references, such as a former supervisor in volunteer or paid work, teacher, or mentor.  Please describe when and in what capacity you worked with each reference. 

 Applicants must be 18 or older.  All interns selected for this program must pass a background check.  This is necessary because interns will be working directly with youth and adult Mountain Retreat and Learning Center guests.

More Information:

For more information, please contact our Garden Manager and Intern Mentor, Bill Hagemann at or 828.526.5838 x 252.


 Seedlings in the hoop greenhouse


Youth group learning about gardening


The Mountain's Hoop House


A young guest participating in our Challenge Course


Green beans, collards, kale, and romaine growing in the garden