The GreenLife Internship Progam

Celebrating 15 Years of Paid Internships

GreenLife Interns working in Roosevelt Park

The GreenLife Job Readiness paid internship program in Theodore Roosevelt Park is celebrating 15 years of horticulture and work-life skills training for local high school students. Launched in 2002 through generous support from The Rudin Foundation, GreenLife was conceived by Friends of Roosevelt Park and then-City Councilmember Gale Brewer, currently Manhattan Borough President.

High school students prepare for careers

Each year, the program sponsors six to eight sophomores and juniors from The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers to work in the 10-acre park space surrounding the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The students commit to participating in the program four days a week during their summer breaks in July and August, or on Saturdays in the spring or fall. Under the supervision of a New York City Parks Department gardener, they learn essential gardening skills, including planting bulbs and seeds, raking weeds and mulching. In the process, they are exposed to such valuable work-life disciplines as punctuality, dependability, teamwork and other experiences that will help prepare them for future careers.  As an added benefit, the students are eligible to take after-school courses at the American Museum of Natural History for free.

“A paid summer internship that provides crucial life skills in a beautiful setting is a win-win situation,” explains Peter Wright, president of Friends of Roosevelt Park. “Each season, these dedicated students get to see the fruits of their labor and with the added benefit of knowing their contributions have been integral part of what makes Roosevelt Park a green oasis.”

How are GreenLife interns selected?

Students are selected through written applications, teacher recommendations, and a week of work in early spring in the park as part of their course work. During the school year, participants sign up for only one season at a time. More information is available through the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers.

Dickinson W. Richards

Dickinson Richards on Nobel MonumentNobel Laureate Dickinson Woodruff Richards

Dickinson W. Richards was born on this day in 1895. He is one of the Nobel Prize winners honored on the Nobel monument in Roosevelt Park.

Time in Manhattan

Richards attended medical school at Columbia University in the early 1920s, and became a doctor in 1923. He later worked at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, and Columbia University.

We like to think he may have taken walks in Roosevelt Park, which was called Museum Park at that time.

Nobel Prize for Medicine

In 1956, Dickinson W. Richards shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with André Frédéric Cournand and Werner Forssmann. Their prize was for the development of a cardiac catheterization technique and research into a variety of cardiac conditions.

Liriope Muscari

Loriope Muscari Silver Sunproof 533 x 300

Why is Liriope Muscari also called Silvery Sunproof? The name comes from the light yellow stripes on the leaves, and the fact that the plant can tolerate full sun, although it does better with partial shade. Liriope Muscari also features bluish purple flowers in the summer and fall.

Silvery Sunproof is a hardy plant that can tolerate dry conditions and cold weather. Other names for this plant include Lilyturf and Monkey Grass. It’s used in Roosevelt Park mainly as a groundcover edge.

Sigma Delta Tau returns

Four months after their first time volunteering with us, Sigma Delta Tau sorority sisters again spent a day volunteering in Roosevelt Park.

Four new gardens for Theodore Roosevelt Parknew garden

These magnificent women weeded between cobblestones, raked up and bagged dried leaves, prepared soil beds, and planted perennial and flower bulbs. They created four gardens between Bull Moose Dog Run and Columbus Avenue.

Planting perennials and flower bulbs

Our volunteers planted hundreds of perennials: hellebore, Japanese forest grass, corabelle, astilbe, hosta, anemone, fox glove, and red twig dogwood. They also planted thousands of flower bulbs: Spanish bluebells; miniature golden daffodils; tall white daffodils; fragrant paperwhites; winged snowdrops; purple alliums; and purple, red and golden tulips.

Visit us from March through October to see how much color these new gardens add to Roosevelt Park!


Sigma Delta Tau Volunteers



Sedum on Central Park West

We have planted sedum in the gardens near Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

Flowers from fall to winter

Sedum plants have massive heads of clustered pink flowers that later turn mauve. They will last well into the winter months.  This plant grows the best in full sun, and looks the best when planted in masses.

Sedum is tough and adaptable; thick, sturdy stems will support flower heads, even when covered in several inches of snow.  The plant is fairly maintenance free, slow to spread, and extremely drought tolerant.

Butterflies in Roosevelt Park

Sedum attracts butterflies – just one more reason we choose to plant it!


Anemones on the Upper West Side

Anemones along the Bull Moose Dog Run

Anemones are in full bloom in Theodore Roosevelt Park. Lovely, two-inch pink blossoms, with centers of golden-yellow stamens, grow atop tall, graceful dark green stems. They thrive in the gardens along the Bull Moose Dog Run, which provide moist, well-drained loamy soil that is protected from strong winds.

Long-blooming flowers

Among the longest blooming flowers in the park, anemones provide weeks of brilliant color from September to late October. When the flower petals fade and fall off, dark spherical seed heads replaces them. Over 12 to 24 months, the elegant anemones can develop into a robust groundcover 10-12″ tall.


Nobel Laureate William Faulkner

faulkner-nobel-monumentWilliam Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897, and he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949. Faulkner’s name appears on the Nobel Monument in Roosevelt Park.

Faulkner was born in Mississippi, and he joined the RAF during World War 1. He later studied at the University of Mississippi, where he published work in the student newspaper. He dropped out before earning a degree.


Time in New York City

Faulkner moved to New York City in 1921, and he worked in a bookstore. If he ever visited the Museum of Natural History, he would have walked through the park that eventually became Theodore Roosevelt Park. Faulkner returned to Mississippi in 1922.


Liriope in Bloom

Liriope, also called blue lily turf, is a tuberous-rooted, clumping, herbaceous perennial, currently in full bloom in Theodore Roosevelt Park.

Covering Theodore Roosevelt Park with color

We plant liriope throughout the park as a border plant and ground cover. Its beautiful lavender flowers rise above dark green arching leaves that grow to about 12” tall.

Foliage in winter

Liriope is one of the most durable plants in Roosevelt Park. It is tolerant of heat, humidity, drought and cold, and it grows well in lighting ranging from full sun to nearly full shade.The vibrant foliage remains attractive throughout spring, summer and fall, and partially into the winter.

What do birds eat on the Upper West Side?

One answer is liriope berries. The flowers develop into berries in late autumn that persist into the winter and feed Roosevelt Park’s birds.