Botany and Ecology Field Assistant Internship, working with conservation professionals in the USA

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In collaboration with the Nature Conservancy in Oregon, USA, interns have the opportunity to live and work in remote and beautiful northeastern Oregon on The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, the largest remaining fescue-dominated bunchgrass prairie in North America.  Participate in various botany and wildlife research projects for the summer field season.

Interns can join for 8 up to 12 weeks in duration from May to August onwards.

Individuals and students doing research welcome.

Cost includes accommodation on the reserve, stipend of $80 per week for food, training & supervision; one off cost of £195.

American Badger Insect monitoring Columbia Spotted Frog Coyote pups in the Preserve Zumwalt Prairie scenery Interns in action Epicauta Pennsylvanica in Zumwalt Rocky Mountain Elk Exquisite flower detail of flowers in Zumwalt Calochortus flower in Zumwalt Photo of hawk taken by one of our interns, Abigail Fritillary butterfly Blister beetle in Zumwalt Ladybirds in Zumwalt Red-tailed Hawk Staff and interns having a BBQ

The Zumwalt Preserve is one of the last remaining fescue prairies

The Project

The Internship Opportunity

Four Ecology Field Interns will assist Conservancy staff members with a variety of vegetation inventory, monitoring, research and stewardship projects in support of The Nature Conservancy’s conservation efforts on the Zumwalt Prairie.  Interns will learn a variety of field ecology skills and apply them in collecting and analysing data on the Zumwalt Prairie and will have the opportunity to learn about and contribute to on-the-ground conservation work.  Interns need to commit to at least 8 weeks, starting approximately 22nd May 2017 or between 14th July and 28th August. Interns will be expected to work for around 35 hours per week, for the duration of the position. Interns will be working on rugged terrain and will be learning and applying botany and ecology skills throughout.

Responsibilities

  • Familiarise oneself with terrain, vegetation, and ecology and conservation issues of the Zumwalt Prairie
  • Learn basic botany and field ecology skills, including use of maps, global positional systems and other equipment
  • Work as part of a team conducting a variety research and monitoring projects in the field. These include plant inventory and collection, mapping weeds, monitoring of plant communities, rare plants and plant phenology
  • Assist with data entry, data analysis, and reporting
  • Interns will be asked to identify their learning and career objectives at the start of their assignment, complete an independent study during their tenure, and report on their progress at the end of the term.

Requirements

  • The Zumwalt Preserve spans across Orgeon and is the largest prairie within the stateWillingness to commit to and complete a minimum of 8 weeks of volunteer service; 35 hours a week
  • Must be in good physical condition and able to walk 5 miles per day over rough terrain
  • Must be able to tolerate extreme weather conditions of cold, heat and wind while in the field
  • Volunteers must be able to maintain concentration and data collection accuracy under fatigue and strain
  • Must possess a good work ethic and pay close attention to detail
  • Must be willing to live in rustic, remote field housing with other interns, staff and/or crew members
  • Previous field experience on botany projects is desirable
  • Positions require mature individuals who can comfortably interact with TNC staff, volunteers, and the public

Benefits

  • The chance to work closely with conservation professionals and learn about the ecology, conservation values and threats of the Zumwalt Prairie
  • An opportunity to learn how field studies contribute to real-world conservation work
  • Training and experience using field ecology techniques, especially those relating to vegetation in a biologically rich, beautiful and remote part of Oregon

About The Nature ConservancyWildlife at Zumwalt Nature Conservancy Preserve in Oregon

The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy was founded in 1951 and has offices covering all 50 states and over 30 countries. It is the world’s leading conservation organization. Founded by ecologists, the Conservancy was built upon and retains a strong commitment to science in every action it takes. The Nature Conservancy in Oregon was founded in 1961, manages 45 nature preserves around the state and is supported by more than 70 staff, 700 volunteers, 32,000 members and an active board of trustees. Acting through their ten offices in Oregon, The Nature Conservancy works in partnership with other conservation organisations, governmental entities and private landowners on complex restoration and management issues on some of Oregon’s most sensitive and important natural areas. In the 50 years since volunteers founded The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon chapter, they have protected more than 505,000 acres of land.

Each summer The Nature Conservancy conducts various botanical and ecological studies on its Zumwalt Prairie Preserve in Northeast Oregon. These efforts further our understanding of the unique biological diversity of the Zumwalt Prairie and how human actions affect it.  Interns with education and/or skills in botany, biology and other natural resource disciplines are needed to assist Conservancy staff in conducting these studies.

Interns research insects in the Zumwalt Prairie PreserveDates & Costs

Interns can join for a minimum of 8 weeks (up to 12 weeks maximum). Two positions will start on May 22nd 2017, whilst the start dates for the other 2 positions are flexible and can be between July 14th and August 28th, depending on the duration of the early-season positions.
 
22nd May to 17th July 2017 (8 weeks)
​1st August to 26th September 2017 (8 weeks)
 
The above dates are approximate start/end dates - we can be flexible.
 
Costs
Interns will be required to pay a £195 application fee, and thereafter, lodging costs in the field will be covered for the full 8 weeks (or longer). Interns will be reimbursed for food up to 80 USD per week, but will need to cover other personal expenses. The Nature Conservancy will provide transportation to and from the worksite each day and will offer one trip per week to town to purchase food and other supplies.

All interns must also arrange and pay for medical and accident/travel insurance.  The Nature Conservancy provides limited accident / emergency medical insurance that is in addition to a personal insurance policy.

Staff and interns get together for a BBQAccommodation & Travel

Transport, Food and Accommodation

Accommodation will be shared "dorm style" housing on the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve which includes bathrooms, hot and cold running water, and full kitchens.  Interns will need to provide sleeping bags and all-weather work clothes such as sturdy high-top hiking boots, rain jacket and pants, gloves, hats and clothing for both warm and cold weather conditions. All interns will be provided with transportation to and from the worksite each day and will have at least one trip per week to town to purchase food and other supplies, do laundry or just enjoy time in town. Food expenses of interns will be reimbursed up to $80/week.

 

The diverse plantlife of the Zumwalt Preserve in OregonTravel to Project Site

You will need to book and cover your own airfare costs to either Portland, Oregon or Idaho’s Boise airport (the nearest airport to the preserves) and transportation to either La Grande or Enterprise, Oregon, where you will be picked up by Conservancy staff and taken to Zumwalt Prairie Preserve.  Greyhound bus trips from Portland to La Grande take between 5-6 hours and cost approximately $50.00 one-way. Greyhound bus trips from Boise to La Grande take between 3-4 hours and cost approximately $40.00 one-way.  Other options (such as carpooling with staff or other interns from Portland) may be possible, but we would not know this until much closer to your arrival date.

Visa Application

With regards to visas, interns applying for the Ecology Field Assistant position will have to obtain the necessary tourist visas for the duration of the time that they are on the project, or alternatively they may be able to qualify for the Visa Waiver Program.

Interactive Map & Background

Interactive Map

Background on the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve

Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, with its beautiful views of the Wallowas and Seven Devils mountains, is located on the edge of Hell’s Canyon in the far northeastern corner of Oregon, near the Idaho border. The 160,000-acre Zumwalt Prairie is the largest remaining fescue-The Zumwalt Preserve is home to many rare birds of preydominated bunchgrass prairie in North America.  Abundant ground squirrels and pocket gophers attract a remarkable diversity of birds of prey.  Ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks (on the decline elsewhere in the western United States) thrive here, along with golden eagles, prairie falcons and red-tailed hawks. 

Zumwalt Prairie is also a reintroduction site for the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, extirpated from Oregon in the 1960s. The Conservancy's Zumwalt Prairie Preserve includes 18,000 acres of the native prairie habitat as well as 15,000 acres of canyon lands. Camp Creek and Pine Creek provide habitat for native fishes including the endangered Snake River steelhead. The spring and summer wildflower display includes the rare Spalding’s catchfly (Silene spaldingii). Taken together, the An intern works in the Zumwalt Preserve on this 8 week botanical and ecological internshippreserve’s grasslands, forests, streams and riparian habitats support an estimated 28 at-risk species.

Purchased in October 2000, this is the Conservancy’s largest-ever single purchase of land in Oregon. To create a comprehensive management plan for the preserve, which includes guidelines for visitor use, the Conservancy’s staff ecologists began in 2001 with an inventory of the plants, wildlife and natural communities.  They continue to survey for native species and invasive weeds, study hydrologic and other natural processes that support the prairie ecosystem and identify needs for ecological restoration. The Conservancy seeks to build partnerships with schools, universities, agencies and other landowners and recruits interns to assist with research and restoration efforts at the preserve.

Intern Testimonials

Marina Makri from Greece, joined the project in Summer 2016:

"I worked as volunteer field assistant at the Zumwalt Prairie, in Enterprise, Oregon, USA, for two months. They were two amazing months! The place is stunning and full of energy. During these months, I learned how to work within a group, how to implement many ecological field techniques and how to manage some ecological issues. Every few weeks we had a different project, so it was interesting and enjoyable to spend our time out in that vast prairie!  Even though I don’t have a botanical background, I am sure that some information about all these beautiful plants and flowers are retained in my head.

In our free time, we had the opportunity to explore the area and to observe the wild animals. Furthermore, in the evenings we often relaxed around the campfire, eating, drinking and chatting! I met some beautiful people on the prairie and it was a lovely experience for me. I will return there at the earliest opportunity!"


Below is a group photo of WorkingAbroad interns from our summer 2016 season in Oregon - on top of the truck, standing: Marina Makri, from Athens, Greece. On top of the truck, reclining: Eivind Thomassen, from Norway and on the hood of the truck: Eilidh Stirrup, from Scotland and at the front of the truck: Heidi Schmalz, Zumwalt Ecology Technician and Project Manager

Conservation Interns in Oregon, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


Denise O’Meara talks about her work as a nature conservationist at our Oregon Nature Conservancy Programme: 

"The area was just so vast: if you left something behind, you’d never again find it. I sometimes came across old ink bottles once lost or discarded by the settlers. My shared accommodation was an old schoolhouse, not vastly different from Little House on the Prairie. I cooked my meals in heavy cast-iron pots and learned how to make sourdough bread. We remained outdoors for hours every evening, conversing about worldly topics that were abstract from where we were seated around the bronze sculpted fire pit, our faces lit by the clear night sky, surrounded by coyote howls."

"The people, the environment, the landscape make Wallowa County a very special place, one I’ll forever wish to return to."

Read the full article here:

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/travel-writer/travel-writer-oregon-the-steers-are-lively-and-make-the-young-cowboys-earn-their-rodeo-stars-1.2286122

Abigail took this photo of Zumwalt when was interned there


Abigail Rumsey writes about her time as an Intern at Zumwalt

Thank you for organising my work placement with The Nature Conservancy in Oregon. I had a fantastic two months there, which flew by, and met some great people. The scenery was stunning with lots of opportunities to go hiking and camping, plus I went to a soapbox derby and a rodeo! I also learnt a great deal both working with the data and helping the team with their fieldwork - I learnt A LOT of new plants

Aileen Devaney writes about her time

I was extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to take part in the internship programme. It was a great experience and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending the internship to anyone.

How to Join

If you are interested to apply to join the Oregon Nature Conservancy Programme this summer, you would need to fill out the online application form, providing 2 references, in addition to sending us your CV/resume, a covering letter and a 3rd referee by email. We will also need to contact you by Skype for a suitable interview - we will email you in advance to arrange a suitable time.  An application payment of £195 is also due with your application. If for some reason, we are unable to offer you a place, we would reimburse this fully.

Apply Now

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