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Grassland Ecology Internships: Birds and General Ecology

This internship has closed. To see open and upcoming opportunities, visit the internships page.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is offering internship opportunities with a grassland ecology project at the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana. APR aims to create the largest nature reserve in the continental U.S. and is in the process of reintroducing American bison to a large, diverse and remote prairie landscape.

Learning experiences will include bird, vegetation, acoustic surveys of grassland and riparian habitats and placement and data management of camera traps. Interns will support staff activities associated with these ecology projects and construct short-term research projects of their own. Interns will play a significant role for the advancement of conservation science at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and APR.

Learning Objectives: 

This is a paid internship opportunity wherein the intern will support the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Conservation Ecology Center.

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn avian survey techniques and gain experience with grassland and riparian species native to sagebrush steppe and mixed-grass prairie ecosystems
  • Learn camera-trap survey techniques, bioacoustics survey techniques and mammal ID
  • Discuss APR/SCBI ecology projects and present them to different audiences
  • Navigate a large, remote, complex landscape with 4x4 vehicles, ATVs and on foot
  • Place and organize data from remote acoustic monitoring devices
  • Compile and review ecological data in standard formats
  • Coordinate with field team to execute assigned tasks
  • Reinforce their leadership skills by learning to delegate tasks within a field team
  • Organize, in conjunction with a supervisor, weekly activities to achieve primary goals
  • Have the opportunity to volunteer and assist with capture, vaccination and spotlighting of black-tailed prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets on the adjacent Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
  • Bird interns will also have the opportunity to learn camera-trapping techniques for mammals, and may be able to extend their season until October with camera-trapping work

Grassland Ecology Technicians

  • Preference will be given to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a career in a related field, but recent graduates may also be accepted
  • A strong interest in understanding mammal distributions and identification
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to cover long distances over rough terrain on foot with heavy field equipment
  • Ability to engage within a team environment with staff and other interns and volunteers
  • Must enjoy being outdoors in all weather conditions, and be prepared for long field days and occasional camping during the field season
  • Valid driver’s license and experience in off-road/ATV driving a plus

Bird Survey Technicians

  • Bird survey technicians are expected to have all grassland ecology technician qualifications listed above, as they will participate in additional activities
  • Experience with bird survey techniques and ability to identify bird species of Western North America by sight and sound
This is a paid internship opportunity with a stipend of $1,200-$1,800 per month. Stipend level will be commensurate with experience with western birds and bird survey techniques. The higher stipend level is only available for the May-June bird survey period. This internship requires a minimum three month commitment. College credit is offered if desired; intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. Interns will be responsible for all transportation costs to Montana and personal health insurance.
The American Prairie Reserve is in northeastern Montana (the nearest town is Malta, Montana).The intern will be housed at on site at the research center at no cost. Interns are responsible for purchase of their own food.
Parking is available at the American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana (nearest town Malta, Montana).
Term of appointment: 

May 1 to Oct. 31, 2019. A commitment of at least three months is required. Bird survey work is restricted to May and June, but bird technicians willing to commit to three to six total months of work are preferred.  

Application deadline(s): 
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Internship Category: 
How to Apply: 

To apply, go to:” Select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" complete the information to create an account.  Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • Professional resume or CV
  • A one-page statement of your interest in pursuing this position. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations.
  • Whether you are applying for a bird or general ecology position.
  • College or university and current academic status
  • Degrees held or expected
  • Contact information for Two reference (One must be from a current or a former supervisor)
  • Schedule of availability

Once you create your account and provide the information above, you will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in. You will select:

  • Type of appointment: “Internship”
  • Unit of interest: “National Zoological Park”
  • Program: “National Zoological Park Internship Program”
  • Project: “SCBI-Grassland Ecology (Montana)."