Ball Horticultural Company
2018 Summer Internship Program
For well over two decades, Ball Horticultural Company has offered a wide variety of internships to students majoring in Horticulture, Plant Science, Agribusiness, and related fields. Each year, our internship projects are linked to specific business initiatives, which encompass a range of horticulture disciplines including advanced research, breeding and genetics, marketing, business operations, production, and trialing.
All internships require a minimum of Junior-level standing at an accredited, four-year university or college. Historically, Ball interns arrive with significant academic and/or related extracurricular accomplishments, although consideration is also given to those students demonstrating exceptional promise. When applying for these internship projects, students should consider the following:
All internships are offered during the summer months for a period of 10-12 weeks.
Start and end dates are relatively flexible, depending upon the student’s availability and the needs of the department; we prefer interns start no later than the day after Memorial Day.
Unless otherwise noted, internships are located in West Chicago, Illinois, a suburb approximately 35 miles west of Chicago.
Rate of pay is $13.00 per hour. Students work a minimum of 40 hours/week; some internships require overtime during critical periods.
We provide fully furnished and appointed apartments in a nearby apartment complex and absorb the majority of the rental costs. The student portion of housing is $200.00 per month. Food, transportation and other living costs are the responsibility of the student. Students are required to have their own transportation since housing is not within walking distance from work locations and public transportation is not readily accessible.
A major goal of the program is to expose students to multiple aspects of our business operations; presentations and tours of departments throughout the company are provided during the summer. Similarly, interns are expected to participate in company and industry events including AmericanHort’s Cultivate ’18 in Columbus, OH and Ball Customer Days.
All internships culminate in mid-August with a final presentation made by each intern on his/her experiences and accomplishments; these presentations are made to members of Ball’s Management Teams.
The application deadline is February 28, 2018. Intern selections will be determined by March 15, 2017. All applicants will be notified of our decisions.
Students interested in pursuing one of these internships should forward a cover letter and resume to:
Ball Horticultural Company
Attn: Mike Williams
622 Town Road
West Chicago, IL 60185
630-231-3600, ext. 3308 E-mail:
WEST CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Supervised by: Jeff Gibson
This internship will give the student the opportunity to work in our Ball Landscape strategic initiative. The objective of the program is to leverage Ball proprietary plant sales to greenhouse growers and nurseries that sell to the professional landscape trade. Tactics for this initiative involve various marketing channels including market assessment, data management, advertising, product presentations, events and media relations, digital and social media.
Ball Landscape market segment Surveys
- Work with LandscapeBusiness Manager and Market Research Manager to create marketing questionnaire for N.A. Landscape architects; greenhouse growers and garden centers selling to landscapers, nursery re-wholesalers, and landscape contractors
- Coordinate input from Darwin Perennials, Star Roses and Plants, Ball FloraPlant, PanAmerican Seed to determine objectives, measurement goals for survey
- Create questionnaire, determine method of delivery, and analysis
- Administer survey, track, and summarize results
- Analysis and presentation
Ball Landscape social media development and assessment
- Social media content, photography, video & blog content development to support 2018 updated Balllandscape.com
- Assessment of winter/spring 2018 social media campaign. Effectiveness, reach, suggestions for improvement for 2019 strategy
Ball Landscape/Ball Horticulture media relations support activity
- Assist Public Relations manager in the coordination of media day events, July & August 2018
- Identify and coordinate visits to Ball Gardens by landscape-specific media (Darwin Perennial Day, Ball Customer & Landscape Day)
2018 Ball landscape & customer day targeted landscape account meeting
- Work with Ball Hort sales management to identify key landscape growers & their key landscape customers, and media to invite to participate.
- Communicate with identified Ball landscape growers on logistics/arrangements
- Assist with event set-up and implementation, organization of speakers, post-event survey
- Perform internal communications to sales organization and Ball staff
- Coordinate Ball literature and collateral support for event
Junior or senior level student majoring in horticulture, agriculture, agribusiness, agribusiness marketing or related plant science discipline. Intermediate-level proficiency with MS Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. The selected intern must be self-directed, able to work independently, as well as part of a team, and possess exceptional attention to detail. Interest in the landscape sector is a plus.
PANAMERICAN SEEDBREEDING EVALUATIONSINTERNSHIP
ELBURN, IL or GUADALUPE, CA
Supervised by: Ockert Greyvenstein
In addition to the incredible range in color, viola flowers are edible. Requests by growers have come in inquiring about total number of flowers produced by our hybrids over a growing season. Data on total number of flowers produced could help increase sales in the edible flower market. The project will be an experiment to count, compare, and contrast the total number of flowers produced by several viola hybrids. The intern will have the opportunity learn how to address an important horticultural question by observing appropriate starting plant material organized in a proper experimental design in order to collect the relevant data that can be subjected to the basic statistical analysis followed by interpretation and documentation of the results.
The large sunflower flower head is actually an inflorescence, or composite flower, and are made up of two kinds of tiny florets. The disc florets are located in the center of the composite flower, and the ray florets bear the outer ring of petal-like structures. Ray florets are sterile, and disc florets have both male and female structures, including a single ovary that develops into a sunflower seed. Hand emasculation in sunflower is a difficult task, making it challenging for targeted cross-pollination prior to the stigma getting self-fertilized. Several chemicals have been used to induce male sterility in several crop species. Among chemical hybridizing agents, a synthetic detergent could be an inexpensive option for the induction of male sterility. The objective of the project will be to test the efficacy of a synthetic detergent ‘Surf Excel’. Different concentrations of ‘Surf Excel’will be applied to different flower developmental stages to validate its effectiveness as a potential male gametocide in H annuus. The results of the experiment will also allow us to choose the optimum concentration and precise developmental stage(s) to achieve targeted hybrid seed production in H annuus.
Verbena is generally considered a perennial crop, however, some people grow it like an annual. Verbena provides a wide range of bright colors and grow very well in general. One of the biggest issues with verbena is seed germination, they are tricky to germinate and need a proper amount of moisture. Moisture must be handled very carefully; too much moisture results in a mucilage inside the seed coat which restricts the emergence ofthe embryofrom the seed coat,hence the importance of appropriate moisture content duringthe germination process. The intern project is to conduct trials comparing different moisture content to help us identify the ideal moisture regime enhancing seed germination in verbena.
Junior or senior-level student majoring in horticulture, plant science or related discipline with an emphasis in breeding or young plant production research is ideal. This internship requires intermediate-level proficiency with MS Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Selected intern must be self-directed and have the ability to organize and prioritize their work, as well as work a flexible schedule during peak periods. Similarly, this hands-on internship requires that the student is able to work under a variety of environmental conditions, including heat and humidity for prolonged periods of time, as well as lift 20+ pounds and perform physical labor.
The Gardens at Ball Trials Internships (2)
West Chicago, Illinois
Supervised by: Rachel Prescott, Sam Schmitz
The Gardens at Ball includes over 9 acres of trial and show gardens, highlighting Ball genetics and exclusive product lines for the N. American market and markets worldwide. The two interns will join the Gardens’ staff to
- Assist in the planning, assembly, and implementation of the trial and display gardens
- Gain experience in several aspects of exterior landscape installation
Daily responsibilities will be to assist with planting and maintaining 10s of thousands of plants installed for the summer trialing period. In addition to the daily physical responsibilities, there will be an assigned project given to each intern that will need to be completed by the end of the internship:
- Specialized Focus on Vegetables and Herbs in the Garden
-For the 2018 season, a new “Chef’s Garden” is planned for a high profile area that is highly trafficked by both customers and employees
-With this new endeavor, there is a need for extra attention given to this area to assure its esthetic and functional properties
-This intern will be responsible for overseeing the new “Chef’s Garden”, which includes evaluating the produce quantities and quality that are harvested, problem solving any issues that occur, and creating an outline of suggestions to better the program for the future
-In addition to the “Chef’s Garden”, we have hundreds of vegetables and herbs planted throughout the Gardens, and this intern will be the go to person for harvesting and maintenance for these crops
-Solutions will be presented at the end of the summer to upper level management
-A special interest in vegetables is preferred for this position
- Specialized Focus on Sustainable Landscape Area
-Home to the front of the building at Ball is a large stretch of sustainable plants that have been planted to create a native-esque look
-Ball has worked with a few different contractors over the years to help address this part of the property
-One of the biggest questions heard throughout the summer in this area is, “What plant is this?”
-This intern will help identify the hundreds of plants that are in this area, and formulate a way to effectively display or communicate what they are
-In addition, this intern will research and find ways to lessen the need to rely on outside contractors to address this area in terms of maintenance
-In addition, this intern will be the go to person for weeding, clean up and any pest management issues in this area throughout the summer
-Solutions will be presented at the end of the summer to upper level management
-A special interest in native and sustainable landscapes is preferred for this position
Benefit to department:
-Take care of special projects and assist in labeling containers and beds
-Able to function autonomously from the rest of the crew to accomplish secondary tasks
-Base knowledge and understanding of plants and sound horticultural practices
Benefit to students:
-Complete an assigned project that will provide the intern with a project that is presentable at the end of the summer and not just, “My Summer Planting the Gardens”
-Assist in the planning, assembly, and implementation of an industry renowned trial and display garden
-Experience in several aspects of exterior landscape installation
-Exposure to all departments associated with the day to day function of the company
-The opportunity to meet, interact, and network with varied groups of industry professionals
Junior or senior-level student majoring in horticulture, landscape design and maintenance or related field. This internship requires intermediate-level proficiency with MS Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Selected interns must be self-directed, have the ability to organize and prioritize their work, as well as work a flexible schedule during peak planting periods and in advance of special events. Similarly, this hands-on internship requires that the student is able to work under a variety of environmental conditions including heat, humidity and rain for prolonged periods of time, as well as lift 50+ pounds and perform physical labor. Ability to start employment by May 14th is preferred.
BallSeedservice and Supply ManagementInternship
West Chicago, Illinois
Supervised by: Jacco Kuipers
Ball Seed is the largest division of Ball Horticultural Company. Ball Seed sells and distributes to growers throughout N. America seed, unrooted cuttings and young plants of flowering annuals, vegetables and perennials. The intern will get exposure to the use of market research and project work to support the sales department, and to projects and functions that help support Ball Seed’s services to customers.
- Construct and execute bi-annual customer satisfaction survey
- Collect, Analyze and present survey results & analytical observations
- Support preparation efforts for 2019 purchase order quoting and rebooking season
- Assist with Color Link annual season preparation initiatives – promotional package assembly and distribution.
Supplier Relations /Traffic
- Analyze and compare Ball Seed's business to that of competing broker product offerings, pricing, customer tools and other service.
- Report on gaps and opportunities
- Audit supplier program pricing and terms accuracy
- Perform quality control procedures to confirm
- Update supplier databases on Neonicotinoids usage
- Support Traffic by collecting and analyzing existing and proposed truck routing.
- Review and update WebTrack variety texts and product groupings
Junior or senior-level student majoring in horticulture, agriculture, agribusiness, ag economics or other related field. This position requires a person who has good communication skills and ability to work well in a large group. This internship is a good match for individuals looking for sales, customer service and management experience. Must have strong computer skills, specifically a comfort working in Microsoft environment and analyzing data. In addition, individual should be a self-starter, have strong organizational skills and good writing/documentation skills.
Seedling Development Internship
West Chicago, Illinois
Supervised by: Robert Conrad
The student will work in our Premier Seed Research Lab on a variety of projects involving evaluations of seedling development to assist in determining optimum processes of seed coating and pelleting options for particular species of seed. The intern will be directly involved in assisting with inventorying the different types of coated/pelleted seed in the current assortment, conducting sowing trials with high-speed drum seeders and testing for germination performance. Experimenting with the use of surfactants, and testing different systems for sizing pellets are highlighted in the primary projects of this internship.
Principal projects include:
- Does treating a seed with a surfactant help it imbibe and germinate better? We have a few varieties that appear to require more water after sowing to good stand than most species require. Can this be overcome and have the seed germinate just as well as most seeds with more limited water? Studies will be set up to determine this.
- Our precision multi-pelleted seed needs more water than a normal pelleted seed. This is no surprise due to the size of the pellet. The question is, when is it best to give it more water? Do we give it more water after sowing, after stage one, or sometime in stage 2? Studies will be set up to determine the answer.
- Presently we size pelleted seed with mesh screens. We also have available slotted screens and cylinder screens. Using image analysis equipment, we will try to determine which one is the optimum process to use: flat screens or cylinder screens. Slotted screens or woven mesh screens. We need to understand which gives a better separation into size fractions, and if one method is significantly faster or slower than the other method.
Examples of the activities involved in these projects will include setting up growing facilities andgrow-out standards for each crop, data collection and interpretation, and evaluation of technologies employed in seed testing. Use of proprietary seed testing methods will be employed. Participation in the evaluations of various controls such as optimum light spacing, intensity and watering requirements per crop will also be performed.
Junior or senior level student majoring in horticulture with an emphasis on propagation and young plant production research or greenhouse production is ideal. This internship requires intermediate-level proficiency with MS Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Selected intern must be self-directed, have the ability to organize and prioritize their work, as well as work a flexible schedule during peak periods. Similarly, this hands-on internship requires that the student is able to work under a variety of environmental conditions, including heat and humidity for prolonged periods of time, as well as lift 20+ pounds and perform physical labor.
Perennial Young Plant Propagation Research Internship
West Chicago, Illinois
Supervised by: Will Healy, Todd Cavins
Improving Yield and Efficiency in Perennial Young Plant Propagation
The continued growth of perennial crop production has identified the need to successfully root vegetative perennial cuttings and establish tissue culture stage 3 propagules. Growers continue to struggle with optimizing the cultural requirements for rapid, uniform rooting of these two starting materials. With summer being the primary rooting period, managing and optimizing the environment is even more critical to success. Growers have experienced up to 80% rooting losses due to cutting collapse or delayed rooting. The objective of this internship is to develop protocols, based on current best management practices, to eliminate rooting losses.