Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Spring/Summer Internship Opportunities

Male wood duck looking into box. Credit: USFWS

Male wood duck looking into box. Credit: USFWS

Yazoo Refuge is seeking individuals interested in wildlife management to serve as interns on the refuge.

Contact David Linden -- 662-839-2620

Two types of internships are available. A spring internship usually extends from the beginning of February to late May. Summer internships June–August may also be available. On-the-job training is the primary teaching tool. Check with your school about college credit for such experience.

The Work:
As a Yazoo Refuge intern you would be working with wood duck box maintenance and production checks, passerine nest boxes, moist soil management, waterfowl surveys, and other wildlife-related work projects.

Stipend and Housing:
The stipend for this position is $100/week. Public transportation is not available, so a personal vehicle is required for off-refuge travel. Housing is provided at the Crew Quarters, a three-bedroom brick house with central heat and air, kitchen and laundry facilities. The bedrooms are private with a common bath and living area. Research personnel or other interns may occasionally be sharing the house. Private alternative housing is a 30' RV trailer with all the necessities. Kitchenware, bedding, and cleaning supplies are provided in either case.

Skills needed:

  • Some experience or skill with woodworking equipment or hand tools would be helpful.
  • Familiarity with and ability to operate small boats is desirable.
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  • Skill in identifying waterfowl, shorebirds, waders, and songbirds is desirable.

Details about the refuge and the work:
Yazoo Refuge is one of seven refuges in the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and the oldest national wildlife refuge in Mississippi . It was established in 1936 as one of a chain of refuges that provide habitat and resources for migratory birds traveling in the Mississippi Flyway. The refuge consists of about 13,000 acres of Mississippi River bottomlands. The centerpiece of the refuge is Swan Lake , a 3,500-acre oxbow lake containing baldcypress, buttonbush, water elm, swamp privet, and black willow. Higher ground on the refuge supports overcup, Nuttall, and water oaks, sweet gum, water hickory, sweet pecan, sugarberry, and other bottomland hardwoods. Habitat diversity is enhanced by the interspersion of forests, wetlands, and croplands. Ridges and swales consisting of natural levees and old channels characterize refuge topography.

The Mississippi Valley is a major migration corridor for migratory birds. Over 260 species occur on the refuge. Mudflats and shallow water attract 20 species of shorebirds. Swan Lake and Beargarden Lake support rookeries containing great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and anhingas. High-priority species such as painted buntings and prothonotary warblers also breed on the refuge.

Purple Gallinule. Credit: USFWS

Purple Gallinule. Credit: USFWS

The American alligator is abundant on the refuge and is a popular tourist attraction. The internship may involve nest surveys or other monitoring.

In the mid-1900's the wood duck population was in serious decline. Population rebounds can be credited in part to the use of wood duck nest boxes. During the 1960's over 600 boxes were in use on the refuge. The nest box program continues today, with 250 boxes. In February, shavings are replaced in wood duck nest boxes, and repairs are made. During subsequent monthly checks beginning in April, eggs of wood ducks or hooded mergansers are counted, damaged eggs removed, and presence of a female or of predation is noted. In the event of a hatch, the number a hatchlings leaving the nest is determined.

Colonial waterbird surveys will be conducted in rookeries on Yazoo and also on Morgan Brake, Hillside and Panther Swamp NWRs. Most of this will be done in June, but supplemental surveys may be done prior to that time to account for early-nesting species

Presently the refuge maintains 40 passerine nest boxes. They were installed for the benefit of prothonotary warblers, but are also used by bluebirds, Carolina wrens, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, and great crested flycatchers. Passerine nest boxes are checked every 10 days and production is recorded. Eggs or hatchlings are counted or the stage of nesting or species is determined. After the young have fledged and left, the old nest is removed. Boxes are often used multiple times per year.

The refuge also manages a 240-acre, 14-unit complex of moist soil ponds called the Cox Ponds. The ponds were modified from catfish ponds to enhance habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds. They are a hot spot for bird use at all times of the year and have yielded such interesting and locally unusual species as roseate spoonbills, black-bellied whistling ducks, tricolored herons, dark ibis, a ringed teal, a Say's phoebe, and a vermilion flycatcher, to name a few. Moist-soil management is accomplished mostly through water management and mowing or disking. Manipulation of water control structures according to a schedule and monitoring the plant growth are the primary tasks. There is a great deal of opportunity here to learn to identify wetland plants and learn principles of wetland management.

Over the years, the refuge has been used as a study site for many research efforts. This use is increasing in number and scope as more researchers learn of the habitat and of the support we offer. As research dollars are often tight, accommodations in our crew quarters can be a deciding factor when seeking a study site. It not only helps financially, but also puts researchers in close proximity to their work.

 

Last updated: February 25, 2014