Willow Tree Youth Leaders Program

Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center YouthLeaders

The Willow Tree Youth Leaders Program at the Boston Nature Center is an internship program designed to introduce Boston youth to nature, encourage interest in the environment and science, and create future stewards.

As part of this program, we are able to offer a three-year internship that emphasizes hands-on and minds-on learning experiences. Each year, six teens engage in:  

  • authentic learning experiences 
  • work opportunities in education 
  • administration and site development 
  • leadership skill development 
  • observance of work ethic with personal attention and mentoring

Real-World Experience 

Nature Play Date Program

One Saturday a month, the BNC holds a free Nature Play Date for the public. This program is a way to introduce the community to BNC and the wonders of urban nature. The Youth Leaders are responsible for the development and implementation of the program, and each intern takes on a specific responsibility.  

Teen Counselors

Youth Leaders serve as Teen Counselors at BNC's summer camp and vacation week programs. They consistently demonstrate leadership, understanding of child development, and planning of appropriate programming for small groups of campers and preschoolers.

Other Projects

In addition to the above, Youth Leaders also support the teachers at BNC’s Pathways to Nature Preschool. The teens also lead—and participate in—workshops with their peers that cover a variety of topics such as environmental and science concepts, green careers, and urban nature. 


What Our Teens Are Saying

“I started my three-year internship program feeling nervous, overwhelmed, and so out of my element. Now, I’ve become a capable and ambitious young leader—ready for college and eager to have an impact on my community and people’s lives. For myself and every young person whose life has been influenced by the BNC I’d like to sincerely say thank you.” – Malika

“Working at the Boston Nature Center has opened my horizons. The reason I was drawn to the BNC is because I get to work with kids, and I love kids.  Nature on the other hand was not one of my favorite topics. However, as I worked at the BNC and planned for nature playdates I started to love it because I felt like I was making a difference and a connection. Every child I interact with and introduce to nature is a new future leader to help the environment so we all can live in a better place. I am thankful to the BNC for giving me the experience and opportunity to change children’s lives and to gain the skills of teaching.” – Mariane  


Thank You to Our Program Supporters

Youth Leaders is funded by the Willow Tree Fund. BNC friends and supporters provide additional scholarship for teens upon completion of the three-year program.