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Internships

AR canoe-X512Interns live on the refuges 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. Interns receive a small food stipend, and work 40 hours per week for a specific period of time. The refuge intern program is designed to provide valuable work experience for college students or recent graduates and to provide work assistance for the refuge.  We strive to always provide a variety of quality experiences for interns while accomplishing needed refuge work.

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.

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.  

Alligator River & Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges

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.

The Red Wolf Recovery Program is currently under review. One result of the current state of the program is that there is no longer the need for a full-time Red Wolf Caretaker. Red Wolf Caretaker duties are feeding & monitoring wolves and enclosures Monday, Wednesday and Friday (1-2 hrs. max) along with general refuge intern duties.

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. That often proves useful when searching for jobs after your internship.

-One area of involvement is with Turtle Patrol and Turtle Watch programs, which run all summer. We train interns on refuge ATV's to patrol the beach for turtle crawls. Turtle Watch is monitoring turtle nests and hatchlings at night.

-Interns 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.

-Each year refuge interns participate in pelican and tern banding trips.

-Interns also have the opportunity to take fire training to earn their fire cards.

-Interns are trained to lead public programs for recreation and interpretation such as canoe trips, turtle talks, tram tours, bear tours and Red Wolf howlings.

-Interns help out staffing refuge Visitor Centers. 

-All interns, Red Wolf Caretaker included, assist with refuge maintenance which includes mowing, trimming, trail work, invasive plant control (spraying herbicides)  and other maintenance as it comes up.

-Internships are about 1/3 bio work, 1/3 public programs and Visitor Center help, and 1/3 maintenance work. 

-General refuge internships run from mid-May to the end of August.

-One or two interns are often asked to stay through October to finish out bio work, help with miscellaneous maintenance work, staffing of refuge visitor centers and assist with Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival.

From Alligator River Refuge headquarters we also recruit interns for Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, (check them out on the web and see descriptions below). 

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge hires two general refuge interns each summer. This internship is an opportunity to work & gain experience in a variety of refuge functions.  Interns at Pocosin Lakes Refuge will assist with bio work (bird banding, invasive plants control, water management), refuge maintenance (mowing, trimming, trail work),  and visitor services (greeting visitors, answering questions and operating the visitor center). The internship is about 1/2 maintenance, and 1/2 bio/visitor services. Pocosin Lakes Refuge interns will also have the opportunity to participate in the Turtle Patrol & Turtle Watch program throughout the summer. Interns are trained on our ATV's to patrol the beach and look for turtle crawls.  Turtle Watch is monitoring the nests for boils and hatchlings. Interns also have the opportunity to spend a few days at a nearby fish hatchery, as well as  assist with bird nesting closures and bird surveys on nearby refuges. They also participate in the annual pelican and tern banding trips. The opportunity to take fire training and earn their fire cards is also offered.

General refuge internships run from mid-May to August 31st with possible extensions to stay through October to finish out bio work and assist with our Wings Over Water event.  Pocosin Lakes Refuge is a remote/rural site. Interns are housed in the refuge bunkhouse located on Lake Phelps.

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge needs one intern each summer, mid- May through August 31st and one fall intern, September 1st through November 30th.

This internship is involved with all refuge programs including biology, visitor services, and maintenance.  Interns work with the refuge biologist to collect monitoring data on the refuge.  Interns will learn how to monitor water-quality and hydrology in the lake and surrounding canals and ditches, conduct osprey and tern productivity surveys as well as shorebird and waterfowl surveys depending on the season, and monitor and control invasive plant species. Interns will have the opportunity to assist with the development of electronic data collection platforms at the refuge. Additionally, interns will learn how to manage and analyze data using excel and other statistical programs.  Interns with GIS skills can assist with the development of a Refuge GIS database.  Interns will also be encouraged to complete an independent research/interpretation project of their interest related to refuge Biology; these can include environmental education programs or a small research project on a topic of interest to both the Refuge and intern.  This internship is designed to provide a well-rounded experience to students interested in a career in natural resource management.  Due to the fact that much of the work on this Refuge is done from boats, Interns must be comfortable on the boats and working over water and possess the ability to swim.  Boating and trailering experience is a plus.Interns are also given the opportunity to participate in other refuge programs, as scheduling allows i.e. pelican and tern banding as well as Turtle Patrol and Turtle Watch.

To Apply  

Being open to any of the four refuges internship program will increase your chance of being selected. We typically have an annual average of over 75 applicants to fill 13 positions.

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 food stipend will be provided. In most cases, applications are accepted continually, 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 tracey_rock@fws.gov . In your application describe your background &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
  • Canoeing
  • Operation of ATV & motor boats
  • Maintenance (trail and other)
  • Be sure to provide your dates of availability!

Thanks for your interest!

Page Photo Credits — Canoeing Milltail Creek by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS
Last Updated: Apr 27, 2017
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