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Information iconA Groundwork Denver youth team at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. (Photo: Ian Shive/USFWS)
SCA intern Taylor Franklin left and Marissa Ortega at Aransas national wildlife refuge

Open the door to a potentially life-changing experience. If you land a student internship, a fellowship or a volunteer opportunity at a national wildlife refuge, fish hatchery or other Fish and Wildlife Service site, you’re bound to come away with new insights and excitement about conservation.

As a Student Conservation Association intern at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, in 2016, Taylor Franklin (shown holding alligator) saw a prescribed burn, treated an invasive marsh plant called phragmites, plotted GPS points and weeded a pollinator garden. 

“This internship may have changed my life in that it began my path to a career in conservation,” she says. 

Story: “Student Placement”

Internships

alicia thomas Wilderness fellow pahranagat national wildlife refuge installing trap for duck banding Traver Detras
keith adams Wilderness Fellow wichita mountain national wildlife refuge
SCE intern alfredo Soto Rongjie Zhang

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers numerous career learning opportunities to students. These include internships through the Pathways Program. Paid student internships on national wildlife refuges are also available through the Student Conservation Association, the Corps Network and Youth Engaged 4 Change.

Internships also exist through the Youth Conservation CorpsAmerican Conservation ExperienceGreening Youth FoundationHispanic Access Foundation and Career Discovery Internship Program. More info on USFWS internships.

Some wildlife refuges recruit their own interns with funding from nonprofit Friends groups or educational institutions. Refuge internships are usually unpaid but often include housing and a food stipend. 

Refuges that in recent years have hosted interns include Alligator River, Chincoteague, J.N. “Ding” Darling, Rachel Carson, Seney and Neal Smith Refuges. Some summer placements are arranged through the Youth Conservation Corps. For more information, contact your local refuge.

 

Fellowships

Louie_Ocaranza_2014_DFP_Directorate Fellow_NCTC_usfws

The Directorate Resource Assistant Fellows Program funds summer posts in biology, natural resources and other conservation-related fields for undergraduate students who have completed their junior year. The program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Student Conservation Association.

Fellows may be eligible for permanent Service jobs after successfully completing their fellowship and/or degree requirements.

Volunteer Opportunities

youth 2012 mountain goat research crew at kodiak national wildlife refuge

Volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a great way for students and young people to learn firsthand about conservation and explore possible careers. Opportunities are posted at volunteer.gov. To find opportunities aimed at young people, enter “student” or “teen” in the site’s search field.

Another idea: Ask your school counselor or local youth group, Scout group or service organization about opportunities for teens and students on national wildlife refuges. Wildlife refuges are favorite sites for these groups to earn badges and complete community service projects. 

Every Kid Outdoors Pass

With this pass, fourth graders and their families can visit public lands and see natural wonders and historic sites free for a year.

Find a Refuge
By Zip Code, by State or Alphabetically.
Information iconMile High Youth Corps members clear brush at Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. (Photo: USFWS)