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Virginia Working Landscapes Biodiversity Survey Internship

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

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute provides the opportunity for one intern to gain experience with the study of wildlife biodiversity and conservation of native species on Virginia’s working landscapes.

Virginia Working Landscapes is a Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute program which focuses on biodiversity and landscape conservation through grassland and riparian research, education and community engagement. The intern will assist with VWL’s biodiversity surveys, which explore the impact of landscape management and change on wildlife through surveys of pollinators, grassland birds and grassland plants.

The intern will participate in activities associated with surveys of a variety of species, management and analyses of relevant data, and outreach and education to engage the local community on conservation topics. In the field, these duties may include, but are not limited to, conducting point count surveys for avian species, conducting seasonal plant surveys, surveying grassland arthropods and surveying native orchid species. The intern will play a significant role in advancing the program's knowledge of local biodiversity and the impacts of land management and conservation practices on wildlife.

Through VWL, interns are offered an opportunity to develop professional skills while participating in current research on Virginia's native biodiversity. This includes on-the-job learning opportunities in the areas of field techniques in ecological monitoring, data analysis, project management and communications. VWL convenes and partners with affiliated researchers, conservation organizations, landowners and citizen scientists, creating opportunities for interns to connect and network in professional settings. Interns attend and participate in frequent seminars, training workshops and classes at SCBI and the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, where they are encouraged to exchange ideas with researchers from the many programs hosted at the campus.

Learning Objectives: 

As they gain important experience with conservation science and engagement, interns will:

  • Learn and assist with field season planning and field work for the 2019 survey season, including grassland survey set-up, assisting with programming for citizen scientist training workshops, and leading field surveys for plant, bird and pollinator surveys
  • Develop project management skills through the completion of an independent study relevant to the interns’ learning objectives
  • Improve mentoring skills by training VWL citizen scientists in survey protocols and by working with undergraduate practicum students from the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
  • Expand project management skills by coordinating field work with VWL-SCBI staff, graduate students, other interns and citizen scientists
  • Develop data management skills by incorporating 2019 data into existing VWL database
  • Assist in managing output from an array of projects to be carried out by staff, graduate students, other interns and citizen scientists
  • Develop content for web and other outreach platforms and materials
  • Assist with outreach events and meetings with stakeholders, key conservation organizations and partners in the region
  • Assist with year-end Landowner Reports
  • Develop technical skills and provide assistance using programs such as ArcGIS, R-Studio and Microsoft Excel

Independent Study

All internships of six months or more within the VWL program require the completion of an independent study, which encourages interns to develop project management skills.

The independent study will be assigned based on the education level of the intern, their career interests and individual learning objectives. At the end of their tenure, the intern will write an abstract on their project suitable for submission to a scientific meeting, create a poster highlighting their project outcomes and submit a written deliverable to be discussed between the intern and their mentor (e.g., report, manuscript, webpage, protocol).


Intern must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in biology, ecology, wildlife science or a related field and should have a working knowledge of wildlife and/or plant community ecology. Excellent attention to detail is required, including the ability to legibly and accurately record and transcribe field, as well as the ability to maintain large databases.

Familiarity with global positioning systems, Arc-GIS, Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft Office applications is preferred. Applicants should be highly motivated, as field days often start before sunrise and require tolerance for a range of field conditions, high humidity, rugged terrain and biting insects.

Intern should have a strong inclination for teamwork and organization, as well as excellent communication skills, including the ability to communicate science topics to volunteers and other audiences for whom familiarity with subject matter may vary.

U.S. citizenship or a U.S. work visa is required. Intern must possess a valid driver's license with a clean driving record. Interns with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute are required to pass a federal background investigation.

Interns will receive a stipend.
Front Royal
Housing is not provided and intern is responsible for their own transportation.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute provides parking for interns.
Term of appointment: 
This is a six month internship starting February 2019 and is a full-time appointment (40 hours per week). There is an opportunity for extension up to one year.
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 interest in pursuing this position; written statements should address relevant experience, career goals, and reasons for pursuing this internship.
  • Academic transcripts from current and/or previous institutions; unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two letters of reference (One must be from a current or  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-Virginia Working Landscapes”

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit.” Your SOLAA submitted application with references must be received by the deadlines as noted above.

For Additional Information

Questions about this internship should be sent to