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Summer Internship: Wildlife Conservation Field Work in Vermont


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Alexander Dickey Conservation Internship The Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE) seeks applicants for a 12-week, field-based conservation science internship—the Alexander Dickey Conservation Internship—for the period 18 May to 7 August 2020. Applicants should be in relatively early stages of a career trajectory that demonstrates a genuine commitment to conservation of flora and fauna. While passion for natural history, motivation to learn and eagerness to contribute are far more important qualities than experience, successful candidates will be able to highlight a proven dedication to conservation biology.

Above all else, we seek applicants who are eager to grow and develop as conservation professionals, who will apply the skills they gain in this internship to advance VCE’s mission, and who express a personal connection to nature that reflects the solace and delight it offered to Alexander. Special consideration will be given to candidates who, like Alexander, blend a love of the humanities with this felt connection to nature, and/or have some personal experience, awareness, or empathy with the type of suffering Alex endured.

As a summer intern for VCE, you will be immersed in our diverse wildlife research and monitoring projects, including (but not limited to) long-term bird banding on the Mt. Mansfield ridgeline, the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, Mountain Birdwatch, and studies of vernal pool amphibian ecology. You and another Summer Intern will become a tightknit team, working together throughout the summer alongside our senior staff of ecologists. Your responsibilities will vary from week to week, but for Mountain Birdwatch you will camp in the backcountry of the high mountains, practice leave-no-trace camping (1-2 nights at a time), and arise in the pre-dawn hours to conduct point count surveys for 10 high elevation bird species. Don’t worry, we can teach anyone to identify these 10 bird species by ear alone—you do not need to be an expert, just enthusiastic. For our Loon Conservation project, you will visit remote lakes and ponds in Vermont to monitor loon activity, search for nests, and deploy and recover floating signs and nesting platforms. You will also engage in spontaneous conversations with residents and recreationists at loon lakes, to both gather their observations and share information and educational materials about loon conservation.

On the Mt. Mansfield ridgeline, you will help set up mist nets, remove birds from nets, and band birds like Blackpoll Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Whitethroated Sparrows. Of course, it won’t be sunny every day, so you’ll be in the office as well entering your data, creating maps with ArcGIS Pro, editing videos and our website, and updating materials to help our citizen scientists conduct biological surveys. There are lots of other opportunities for professional development, like being a part of an episode of Outdoor Radio for Vermont Public Radio. Attention to detail is essential for both fieldwork and office-based work.

This internship requires a mature individual who has the ability to operate independently and also work collaboratively with another intern. You will receive training and coordinate frequently with senior staff, but the team of interns will often be responsible for carrying out the fieldwork without direct supervision. Strong and collegial communication skills are essential, as well as demonstrated good judgment in field-based situations. Some formal education in wildlife biology or a closely related field is necessary. Also required is a willingness to work unpredictable hours in demanding field conditions, physically exert oneself, be flexible in scheduling activities, and show an abundance of good-natured humor. Applicants should be prepared to travel independently around Vermont and occasionally to surrounding states, and to conduct surveys for montane bird species and loons. All necessary training will be provided, but you must have a reliable vehicle that can both transport a kayak and occasionally navigate unpaved roads.

You must be able to read a road map and use it when driving to remote locations, without relying upon a phone app. Good hearing and an ability to work in variable weather conditions, traverse uneven terrain, carry upwards of 20 pounds in a backpack, camp in the backcountry, 3 navigate on foot with a GPS in the dark, and otherwise maintain good physical condition are essential. Applicants must be able to supply their own backpacking gear for short overnight (occasionally multinight) backcountry bird surveys. Prior experience in the backcountry and conducting biological fieldwork would be helpful, but is not required. This internship will pay $500/week and is not eligible for VCE benefits.

All personal mileage accrued during the internship will be reimbursed at the federal mileage reimbursement rate, as will approved personal project-related expenses. Housing is not included in the internship, and it is required that suitable housing be obtained within about 20 miles of the White River Junction / Norwich / Hanover area of VT/NH’s Upper Valley. To apply, please submit a brief cover letter with CV and at least two references by 2 March 2020 to the attention of Sarah Carline (, along with a 500-word (maximum) essay describing why this internship offers a meaningful opportunity to advance your personal and professional growth, and how Alexander Dickey’s described experience resonates with your own. In addition to promising aspirations as a conservation biologist, we are looking for someone inspired by nature, moved to preserve it, and someone who has either suffered from, has empathy for, is aware of, and/or curious about the type of struggle Alex experienced and that is not uncommon in our society. At the internship’s conclusion, we will request a 600-word retrospective essay about the experience’s impact on you, how it has affected your professional aspirations, and how you feel it has honored Alexander’s memory. This essay will be published in VCE’s fall newsletter, Field Note