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National Wildlife Refuges in North Carolina offer a variety of internships. The primary purposes of the intern program are to identify potential employees for the National Wildlife Refuge System and to introduce potential employees to the National Wildlife Refuge System. For this reason, internships are usually filled by college students or recent graduates. Interns provide a valuable work force for these refuges. Having an interest or goal of future employment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is not a requirement for those applying to be refuge interns.

Interns live in housing provided by the refuge. On Alligator River Refuge it is the Buffalo City cabin. On Pea Island Refuge it is the Nags Head bunkhouse. The refuge operation intern program is designed to provide valuable work experience for college students or recent graduates and to provide work assistance for the refuge. 

Alligator River is the lead refuge for the North Carolina Coastal Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  If you were surfing the web on one of the other refuge websites, you may find your way back to that refuge by following one of these links:  Pea Island - Mackay Island -  Currituck -  Pocosin Lakes - Roanoke River - Mattamuskeet

Resumes are accepted all year. Resume reviews begin in October for selection for the summer intern positions, which run mid-May through the end of August. If the refuge has work sometimes one or two interns are asked to remain through October. 

It is highly recommended that you apply as early as possible. A cover letter, resume and three references with email contact information are required. No matter when they're received, all resumes will be held and considered. 

All interns will be involved in multiple refuge programs. This gives an intern a well-rounded look at and direct involvement with many aspects of national wildlife refuge operations. This experience often proves useful when searching for jobs after your internship. 

Interns often have the opportunity to spend a few days at a nearby U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service fish hatchery. 

Interns assist with water management, bird nesting closures and bird surveys. 

Interns also have the opportunity to take wildland firefighter training to earn their red card (firefighter qualification). 

Alligator River & Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges 

This is a refuge operations internship that will expose interns to many aspects of managing a refuge. Interns participate in multiple refuge programs and assist with visitor services, biological monitoring, and maintenance activities. Interns receive training to assist them in presenting public outreach programs such as guided canoe tours, refuge open-air tram tours as well as educational programs on refuge history, management practices, and on species such as black bears and sea turtles. They also help with staffing our visitor centers as needed. Biological duties include installing bird closures, trail maintenance, invasive plant control (spraying herbicides), sea turtle monitoring, shorebird surveys and water level monitoring. All interns assist with refuge maintenance, duties include mowing, trimming, trail work, sign maintenance, trash collection and pickup and assisting other staff with a variety of projects. Interns will receive on-the-ground training for all duties, i.e. ATV/UTV training, mower use and safety.

We seek enthusiastic team members! It is more important for us to find candidates with good references and positive attitudes than previous technical experience.

General refuge internships run from mid-May until sometime in August, when interns need to return to college. We often ask one or two interns each year to stay through September or October to assist with Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival.


We also recruit interns for Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, (check them out on the web and see description below).


Pocosin Lakes and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuges

This internship is an opportunity to work & gain experience in all refuge functions on the 50K acre Mattamuskeet and the 110K acre Pocosin Lakes Refuges.  Projects include, water quality on Lake Mattamuskeet, pocosin wetland restoration, visitor services, and general maintenance. Interns will work independently or with refuge staff or volunteers.  Work assignments with refuge maintenance could include mowing, trimming, trail work, sign maintenance, light carpentry, trash collection and pickup. Biological work could include identification, mapping and treating invasive plant species, collecting weekly water quality data, and changing filters in an air quality monitoring station.  Pocosin wetland restoration includes clearing, monitoring and measuring water control structures to record hydrology levels within a habitat management unit. Visitor services assignments could include greeting visitors, answering questions, presenting/assisting with educational programs, restocking brochures across the refuge and occasionally assisting in the visitor center or rarely in the headquarters office. This internship consists of approximately half your time in maintenance, and half in bio/visitor services. Opportunities are possible to visit and work at other refuges in the area. General refuge internships run from mid-May through August, with possible extensions to stay through October to finish out bio work and assist with our Wings over Water event.  The Mattamuskeet and Pocosin Lakes refuges are remote/rural sites but offers a bunk house with moderate speed internet, full kitchen, 3 bedrooms and two full bathrooms.


The Fall / Winter Internship at Mattamuskeet

This 12-15 week internship would ideally cover the months of November through mid- February. Our winter intern is primary responsible for administering our late-season waterfowl hunts. This entails an early morning start on Tues, Wed, Fri, and Saturday to check-in hunters, conduct the stand-by draw, ensure hunters are where they need to be, close gates, and make sure hunters check-out appropriately. There are also some biological and maintenance tasks mixed in.  We can discuss unique scheduling situations or limitations, but the typical internship lasts from November to February. Start date could be slightly flexible depending on school schedules, but ideally, they could assist with Swan Days (1st Sat. in Dec.). The intern would be responsible for running the duck hunts and assist with our ground counts (both field data collection and data entry).


To Apply  


You will increase your chance of being selected if you’re open to any of the four refuges internship programs. We typically receive many more applications than the positions we have to fill.

In most cases, to be considered for an internship position, an applicant must be able to stay a minimum of three months. However, in rare cases, slightly shorter internships have been scheduled.

Internships are volunteer positions. However, housing and a small monetary award is provided. In most cases, applications are accepted year 'round, with selections being made on specific dates.

Applicants interested in obtaining internships on other refuges should contact those refuges directly.

Email a cover letter with your specific interests and dates available. Include a resume and three references with email contact information to   In your application describe your background and experience relating to the following -

-Forestry management techniques

-Wildlife identification and surveys

-GPS concepts and applications/general computer skills

-Basic plant taxonomy

-Public interpretive programs


-Operation of ATV & motor boats

-Maintenance (trail and other)

Be sure to provide your dates of availability!

Thank you for your interest!