This is a full-time, seasonal professional growth position offered through Walking Mountains Science Center (WMSC) in partnership with the United States Forest Service’s (USFS) White River National Forest (WRNF). The WRNF encompasses approximately 2.3 million acres of public land and has the most visitation of any national forest with 11 ski resorts, eight wilderness areas, and a diversity of wildlife and ecosystems. Throughout the duration of the WMSC Conservation Internship, Conservation Interns will develop skills in field biology survey techniques, natural resource conservation, trails and land management, and interpretation/education while exploring a variety of careers and opportunities with the USFS. This internship demands a strong work ethic to be successful in this fast paced and dynamic work environment.
Conservation Interns will work alongside biologists and career professionals from the WRNF and WMSC on a daily basis. Individuals will be placed in one of the following positions based on skills, duration of availability, and career/education goals:
- Aquatics and Fisheries - Work with USFS aquatic staff to conduct field surveys (fisheries, amphibians, and aquatic macroinvertebrates) to support various projects. Additional work will include providing hands-on assistance with habitat restoration projects and ecosystem assessments.
- Wildlife Management - Work with USFS wildlife staff to conduct field surveys (raptor, hawk and falcon nest searches, general bird surveys, bat monitoring and pika surveys) to support a variety of projects. Additional work will include the installation of owl boxes and removal of livestock fencing with partner organizations.
- Vegetation Management - Work with Vegetation Management crew to perform general forestry work. Tasks would include implementing vegetation management projects on the ground to reduce fuel loading, improve forest health, and provide for long term wildlife habitat. Other tasks to be performed would include regeneration surveys and hazard tree identification. This is primarily a field going position working on uneven and sometimes steep ground in all types of weather conditions. Some overnight camping may be needed but is not required.
- Trails and Wilderness - Work with USFS wilderness staff to provide public outreach, restoration work and perform trail maintenance to maintain wilderness character in congressionally designated Wilderness. Ability to carry 50+ pounds, hike 6-20 miles a day, and spend up to 3 nights in the backcountry is required.
- Developed and Dispersed - Work with USFS Developed and Dispersed staff to provide public outreach and education on Forest Regulations, Leave No Trace ethics, and local information to forest users at developed and dispersed recreation sites alike. Complete projects that protect natural resources and enhance the recreation experience working within national standards.
Training: Conservation Interns will receive extensive training prior to placement in their internship. This training will be focused on practical skills and knowledge of local geography and ecology to set individuals up for success in their internship placements. Skills and topics will include but are not limited to: Leave No Trace, backcountry travel and navigation, comfort and efficiency while backpacking/camping, diversity and inclusion, communication and conflict resolution, education and interpretation, risk management, and local flora and fauna.
Additionally, this position has an added focus on career exploration and professional development. Conservation Interns are scheduled time within the work week to engage in natural resource conservation, environmental education experiences, and career exploration. These opportunities include field trips, job shadowing, skills workshops, special topics discussions, and stewardship projects.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
- Participate in on-site, paid training prior to beginning internship responsibilities
- Arrive for work on time and follow your assigned work schedule
- Maintain open lines of communication with leadership from both WMSC and the WRNF
- Work with other Conservation Interns, WRNF personnel, and WMSC staff to complete assigned projects that further both organizations’ missions.
- Learn and apply new skills to complete field work in rugged terrain and variable environmental/weather conditions while maintaining a strong work ethic
- Contribute to positive and professional group dynamics with colleagues and practice a team-oriented mindset
- Cultivate a friendly and positive attitude during interactions with visitors to the WRNF and participants in WMSC programming
- Actively participate in professional development and learning opportunities provided within the internship experience
- Conservation Interns work primarily outdoors at various field sites within the White River National Forest, with periodic indoor responsibilities.
- Outdoor responsibilities average 8-10 hours per day and may include traveling in vehicles long distances on rugged and uneven gravel roads, hiking in steep rocky terrain, carrying heavy packs, conducting detailed field protocols, and interacting with the public.
- The work of each Conservation Intern has a different conservation focus and as a result, has a different work schedule and duties/responsibilities than other interns. All Conservation Interns will work a 4/10s schedule (4 days a week for 10 hours).
- Conservation Interns will have access to resources (like a shared computer and printer) in an open office environment at Walking Mountains Science Center
- Interns will have access to a Gear Library where they can check out equipment as needed to be comfortable and prepared for necessary field work
Internship Durations: Start date for Conservation Internship: June 5, 2023
- 3 Month (12 week) Internship End: August 25, 2023
- 5 Month (20 week) Internship End: October 20, 2023
Compensation and Benefits:
- $325 weekly stipend
- Shared housing available
- Age 18 - 25 with a desire to pursue further education and/or a career in natural science, education/interpretation, natural resource conservation and management, or another environmentally related field
- Positive, organized, and creative individual who is an effective communicator (oral and written) and can work independently and as part of a team
- Professional and accountable individual who takes ownership and pride in their work/Curious and self-motivated, willing to learn, and open to giving and receiving feedback
- Be able to work and keep a POSITIVE attitude in various work situations and all types of weather
- Able to hike and carry equipment up to 45 lbs for 5 - 10 miles, work outdoors in all weather conditions, and lift up to 50 pounds
- Preferred: Local full-time or seasonal resident of Eagle County
- Preferred: proficient Spanish language skills (oral and written)