Planting the Seeds of Youth Development

This project will support youth well-being and skill development as part of a summer 4-H experience for youth in Rochester, NY. The intern will reside in Rochester and be co-mentored by leaders in the 4-H Program at CCE-Monroe and in PRYDE (Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement) in the College of Human Ecology. The goals for the project are to successfully lead a summer program with adolescents in Rochester that incorporates positive youth development principles into activities related to horticulture, food and nutrition, and research literacy. Through these activities, youth build skills to prepare for college and careers. At the same time, these youth from urban settings explore the natural world through hands-on work contributing to community gardens and parks. The student intern will support the implementation of these programs, working directly with young people, and will lead a research effort to explore the impact of these programs on participating youth (e.g., What skills are gained? How do youth engage with nature? Do youth feel welcome in outdoor spaces?).

Roles and responsibilities 

The student intern will be working at the interface of youth development research and practice. The intern will support summer youth programs in Rochester offered by CCE Monroe. The intern will assist in coordination, program design, and delivery of youth programs with adolescents. Prior to the launch of these youth programs, the intern will learn about facilitation and program content and theory. The intern will work with the campus PRYDE team to develop program evaluation materials (building upon the 4-H Thrive Model) to assess the impact of summer programs on youth. The intern will conduct a short survey of workforce-relevant skills and a series of brief interviews with youth to explore how working in these outdoor settings impacts the role of nature in their lives and their beliefs about who can engage in gardening and cultivation.

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to students in Cornell University's College of Human Ecology.

  • Introductory course experience in child development and/or research methods
  • Bilingual ability (English & Spanish) is a plus but not required
  • Knowledge or experience in nutrition education and horticulture is a plus but not required
  • Ability to connect with youth and parents
  • Interest in supporting youth well-being and skill development

Learning outcomes 

Through this summer experience, a successful intern will learn to:

  • Translate positive youth development research into practice with educators and youth
  • Facilitate research-informed programs with adolescents
  • Develop evaluation materials to assess the impacts of programming on youth knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors
  • Communicate effectively with diverse audiences and stakeholders that include youth, parents, educators, and researchers