Five Track Options Offer Varied Experiences

The Institute Internship features multiple program areas for interns to choose from. Each program provides extensive information and training to enable interns to fulfill their role and perform necessary tasks, including interaction with children who have psycho-social challenges.

Education includes daily routines, protocols, species-specific behaviors, individual animal personalities, handling techniques, medication and treatment procedures, and use of equipment. Interns may also have opportunities to observe and work with an interdisciplinary team and participate in the treatment of the students enrolled, including attending clinical team meetings and seminars for educational purposes.

Institute Interns must select one area to be assigned to for the semester. Selections must be made at the time of application. If there is more than one area of interest, a first and second choice may be indicated.

Please note that some programs are seasonal and may not be available at certain times of the year.

Farm Animal Education and Interaction - Teaching Barn

Green Chimneys maintains a large number of domesticated animals traditionally associated with farms and small pet species. As a member of the Farm Based Education Association (FBEA) and holding an exhibitor license (C) for animals with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Green Chimneys’ farm-based education program provides experiential, interdisciplinary education that connects people to the environment, their community, and the role of agriculture in our lives. The team consists of a certified teacher with a background in agricultural sciences and staff who have practical experience in livestock management.

Animal-assisted activities and education create the opportunity for children to self reflect through interactions and relationships with people, peers, animals and the barn environment. This experiential learning can happen at any time - in a stall, in a pasture, or when the child grooms a llama, leads a goat, or participates in feeding chores. Experiences with farm animals can teach responsibility, care and concern for another creature, interpersonal boundaries such as appropriate touch, movement, fine and gross motor skills, as well as leadership and teamwork skills. Children become primary caretakers. Therapeutic and educational experiences take place in the chore setting, feeding animals, cleaning stalls and tending to the basic care of animals.

Horticulture - Educational and Vocational Gardens
(April-November only)


The Green Chimneys garden program has two locations and different focuses. Interns in the horticulture area are immersed in both educational and vocational aspect of horticulture, and participate in activities offered both in the Educational School Garden and at Boni-Bel Organic Farm.

The Educational School Garden on the Brewster Campus plays an important role in the lives of Green Chimneys students under the supervision of a teacher with specialized background in horticulture. As part of our New York State standards-based curriculum there is concrete pedagogical value to working on a product or process that will have lasting value beyond the task at hand. Practical lessons in the garden enhance and reinforce theoretical learning in schools. Students gain respect for nature, manual work, individuals, and the community and have opportunities to learn and participate in the growing of plants, harvesting of vegetables, using products out of the garden.

A half mile from the main campus is Boni-Bel Organic Farm, comprised of a two-acre organic garden, an orchard and a hundred acres of native swamp and woodlands. Supervised by a professional organic farmer and program facilitator, the farm provides vocational training and therapeutic activities for Green Chimneys students while maintaining sustainable agricultural practices. The experience on the Boni-Bel farm is significant and transformative for our students; the natural rhythms and cycles seen and experienced on the farm lead to a deeper and more accessible understanding of the world. Students are involved with the day-to-day operation of the farm and its retail operations including the farm stand and quaint Country Store. Vocational skills in bee keeping, maple syrup production, small machinery operation and customer service challenge the students all year long.

During the spring, summer, and fall months activities are held in our gardens, where planting, maintenance and harvesting of crops take place. In the winter, students are exposed to the scientific side of horticulture, such as plant anatomy and seed propagation in our greenhouses. During all seasons, interns have an opportunity to observe and participate in classes, facilitate 1:1 activities with individual students, and may explore independent projects that can enhance the garden program. Interns also guide therapeutic/recreational activities such as creating bees wax candles, mixing organic lotions, drying culinary herbs or preparing fresh chicken eggs for sale to the public.

Equine Education and Interaction - Horse Barn

As a Premier Accredited Center of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), Green Chimneys operates a superior equine education and interaction programs. Equine-assisted learning, therapeutic riding, vocational barn work, equine sport, a driving program, and vaulting are activities offered to the children. Lead staff holds PATH Instructor Certification, Equine Assisted Growth And Learning Association Certification (EAGALA), and Special Olympics Coaching background. A broad range of additional credentials in various equine activities and qualification to implement high quality programs for children with special needs provides a curriculum of challenging, hands-on activities that engage individual children and encourage them to explore their potential through caring for and interacting with the horse.

In the Equine Program, children learn how to care for the 18 horses, donkeys and ponies, and to manage their behavior and emotions to benefit their relationship with the animals. Interns have the opportunity to support children who have been unsuccessful socially or academically as they begin to experience success in the particularly supportive surroundings of the equine program. Interns participate in carefully guided interactions, helping students to develop riding and stable management skills that enhance social, emotional, physical and academic growth beyond the horse barn. Interns in this area assist in riding classes, work one-on-one with students, and are responsible for taking care of the daily needs of our equine herd.

Wildlife Rehabilitation, Education and Interaction - Wildlife Center

The Paul C. Kupchok Wildlife Rehabilitation Center features nearly 50 permanently disabled or imprinted raptors and other wildlife. It is also home to the reptiles, amphibians, insects and fish that are part of the wildlife classroom. Licensed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to maintain and rehabilitate birds of prey, the Wildlife Center treats, rehabilitates and releases injured, orphaned or distressed birds and specializes in hawks, falcons, eagles, owls, and vultures. Song birds and small mammals also are handled on occasion. The Wildlife Center features a beautiful education center, animal triage care area and has large display and flight cages, woodland paths and naturalistic habitats. State licensed wildlife rehabilitators, an environmental educator and animal caretaker comprise the staff in this area.

Interns in this area assist wildlife classes, work one-on-one with students, learn about wildlife rehabilitation, maintain the center and become primary caregivers for the animals. Children participate in all activities and learn that wildlife should never be pets and must be respected from a distance with a different set of rules. Environmental classes provide opportunities for children to learn and appreciate nature and promote awareness of environmental conservation. Students assist in animal care by preparing diets, cleaning bowls, filling water, and designing enriched habitats with staff to keep animals stimulated. Although students’ hands-on contact
with the wild animals is limited, they learn from their experience. Rehabilitated bird releases often are timed to coincide with a child’s discharge from Green Chimneys, creating a wonderful parallel between the animal’s recovery and the child’s own healing and growth.

Dog Interaction*

Created in 2014, the Dog Interaction Program has become a popular addition to Green Chimneys’ animal-assisted activity program. Under a professional trainer’s supervision, the dog intern and our students help socialize shelter dogs, thus, improving their chances for adoption. During their 6-week training session, the canine “students” live on campus 24/7 and have frequent contact with our children and staff. The Green Chimneys Dog Interaction Program allows students and residents to be involved in the everyday care, socialization and training of shelter dogs to help them become accustomed to human interaction, learn basic commands and become ready for adoption into loving homes.  An interdepartmental team of therapists, teachers, dorm, recreation, and farm staff supervise the children in daily care and recreation activities with the dogs during school hours, as well as interaction in the dorms in the evening.

The purpose of the internship is to experience firsthand how a dog interaction program can be incorporated into a residential treatment center and therapeutic day school. Interns will observe ways in which dog interactions are built into daily schedules, learn how to care for and train dogs, be a part of a team educating students and staff on best practices, and more. The internship focuses on student “Learn and Earn” placements during which the intern will help students individually to develop skills through caring for and interacting with dogs; assist the dog trainer in the group activities; and support dog and facility care.

*This program requires solid communication skills, flexibility, sound judgment, and independence due to the location of the dog dorm and the program structure. Experience in working with children is preferred (such as camp or school setting), but not required.

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