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Virginia Working Landscapes Communications 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 an intern to gain experience in communications and outreach with Virginia Working Landscapes, a community-based conservation program. VWL is based at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The program focuses on biodiversity and landscape conservation through ecosystem research, education and community engagement.

This intern will primarily participate in outreach and education activities to engage the local community on conservation topics and VWL's research programs. The intern will also assist with biodiversity surveys, as necessary, gaining experience in survey methodologies for monitoring local species, including pollinators, birds and plants. The intern will play a significant role in advancing the knowledge of local biodiversity and the impacts of land management and conservation practices on wildlife.

Learning Objectives: 

This is a paid internship opportunity through the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. As they gain important experience with conservation science and engagement, interns will:

  • Expand communications skills by assisting with outreach events and meetings with stakeholders, key conservation organizations and partners in the region, as well as by helping to recruit new community members to participate in VWL research projects
  • Develop skills in science communication by working on VWL's monthly Conservation Science Newsletter, which summarizes relevant research papers and articles from around the world to share with the community
  • Create written and visual content for the website and other outreach materials
  • Develop skills in social media communications and online outreach campaigns
  • Learn important event and workshop planning skills
  • Assist with facilitation of outreach initiatives, including taking the lead on developing, planning and executing at least one outreach event, class or workshop
  • Gain fundraising experience by assisting with organizing VWL's annual fundraising dinner
  • Assist with year-end Landowner Reports
  • Develop project-management skills through the completion of an independent study relevant to the learning objectives of the applicant
  • Learn mentoring skills by working with undergraduate practicum students and classes.

Secondary objectives:

  • Learn and assist with field season planning (and fieldwork if applicable) for the 2019 season, including grassland survey site selection and set-up, and detailed and accurate data collection for plant, bird and pollinator surveys
  • Learn data management skills and how to input data from recent surveys, including helping to manage large spreadsheets.
  • Assist with managing output from an array of projects to be carried out by staff, graduate students, other interns and citizen scientists.
  • Learn technical skills and provide assistance using programs such as ArcGIS, R-Studio and Excel.

Independent Study:

In addition to these general activities, all VWL internships spanning six months or more require the completion of an independent study that encourages interns to develop project-management skills. The independent study will be assigned based on the intern's education level, career interests and individual learning objectives. At the end of the internship, the intern will be required to 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 that will be discussed between the intern and mentor (e.g., a report, manuscript, webpage, protocol, etc.).
  • Excellent communication skills and background working in outreach/communications
  • Strong interest in science and conservation, and some experience in ecology and conservation biology
  • Interest and experience working with people
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Experience using social media and other online outreach platforms
  • Public relations experience or abilities
  • Professionalism
  • Experience in event-planning and facilitation
  • Graphic design experience a plus
  • Willingness to take initiative and motivation to seek new learning opportunities
  • Keen attention to detail when proofreading, copyediting and fact-checking
  • Ability to engage within a team environment with staff and other interns and volunteers
This is a paid internship with a stipend of $500 per month for current undergraduates or $700 per month with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Front Royal
Housing is provided at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.
Parking is provided to interns in Front Royal, Virginia.
Term of appointment: 
Six months starting in February or March
Internship Category: 
How to Apply: 

To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html. Select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here," and 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
  • Transcripts from your current and/or previous institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two letters of 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-Virginia Working Landscapes Communications Internship”

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.

Questions about this internship should be sent to scbivwl@si.edu