Under the Radar Internships

Serve Somewhere Unexpected

Cover: Natural Bridges Nat’l Monument, known for its starry nights, NPS/David W. Frank

Sure. You could spend a few months serving the planet with an SCA internship at a world famous national park, working around tourists, instagramming well-known geysers in your spare time. Your friends back home will check their phones and be all like, “Oh. Look at that. Taylor’s hanging out at Yellowstone or something. That’s cool.”

Apply early enough and often enough, and it’s possible that we can make that happen.

Or, you can snag one of our many, many under the radar internships; clandestine conservation service opportunities located within some of the best kept secrets of America’s national public lands system. You’ll get the same kind of Earth-saving, life-changing, resume-expanding, conservation-career launching, experience that you would at the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, but when you post the photos your friends will be like, “What?? Where is that??”

So? What do you say? How do you prefer your service adventures? Middle of the road? Or off the beaten path?

Check out our Top Ten under the radar internships and let us know on your application. ;)


10. As an Idaho AmeriCorps Program Member at Salmon Challis National Forest you’ll roam huge swaths of those fishily named woods, plus the foreboding Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Don’t worry though, you’ll have a state-of-the-art Trimble GPS unit on hand to help with both your data-collecting duties, and finding your way back out of these vast and nearly untouched lands. You’ll live ruggedly, hone a variety of forestry and wildlife management skills, and never have your mettle questioned again. APPLY.

9. NEW Safety is important, even and especially to the swashbuckling, adventure-loving, wilderness-embracing park ranger. As the Safety and Occupational Health Intern at Grand Teton National Park, you’ll protect your intrepid, public lands protecting co-workers from known & unknown hazards throughout the park through site inspection, risk documentation, and safety training. APPLY.

The most photographed barn in America. Snap it yourself at Grand Teton Nat’l Park.

8. NEW For those who prefer to do their planet-serving armed with a roaring chainsaw, there’s the Chainsaw Sawyer Internship at Crown King Fire District. The spindly flora that transforms routine wildfires into roaring, unstoppable infernos needs to be reduced, and how better to do it than with “power tools such as chainsaws and brushcutters.” Applicants do need some chainsaw experience, though, so get watchin’. No, but seriously. APPLY.

7. Armed with a Trimble Geo XT GPS unit (one serious piece of equipment), the Botanist/GIS Intern at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge will spend a few months variously getting lost in and mapping the vegetative details of the vast expanses of emergent flora and open water that make up this South Dakotan seasonal rest stop for migratory birds. Love waterfowl? What about low horizons that stretch on forever? And high-tech gadgetry? This may be your job. APPLY.

Bird-dappled sunsets are a thing at Sand Lake NWR. Photo: USFWS

6. NEW Experience the gamut of wildfire prevention and control as a Fire Management Intern at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife refuge. You’ll work with natural resource professionals to keep an eye on fire fuels through applied GIS, participate in prescribed burns, and even help with dousing the flames should a wildfire occur during your tenure. Imagine this conversation: “How’d you spend yer summer, bruh?” “Oh, you know, just fighting wildfires in Great Dismal Swamp. No big deal.” APPLY.

5. For those who like to do their Earth-saving in period costume, there’s the Interpretation Internship at Minute Man National Historic Site in Concord, MA (Remember Lexington and Concord? Yeah, same one.). It’s 18th century living, just 20 miles from Boston’s 21st century conveniences. APPLY.

4. NEW Handy with a hammer? Put your carpentry and landscaping skills to the test as a Facility Management Intern at Nicodemus National Historic Site on the high planes of northwestern Kansas. In addition to proving your construction prowess, you’ll tighten your grasp on an important, yet little know thread of American history. Nicodemus was established by African Americans during Reconstruction, and it’s the only remaining such town in the West. APPLY.

3. Working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Backcountry Steward Program you’ll “travel by foot and work alone in remote, extremely rugged terrain and inclement weather conditions” along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. Not a job for the faint of heart, duties include trail inspection, visitor education, GIS mapping, and assisting in the occasional backcountry emergency. Have what it takes? APPLY for one of the program’s many positions.

Commune with the moose at Adirondacks Park. Photo: NY State DOT

2. NEW Are you a believer in the importance of signs? As in actual, tangible, literal signs, the kinds with letters on them, mounted on posts? Then the GIS/GPS Internship at Saylorville Lake in Iowa is just the thing for you. It’ll have you using GIS to inventory both signs and utilities—light poles, transformers, hydrants, water lines, etc. Also a good fit for people who like living near lakes and boating around on them. APPLY.

1. NEW In terms of good deeds, it’s hard to top bringing an endangered species back from the brink of extinction, isn’t it? You’ll do this very best of all deeds as the Fish Hatchery Intern at Craigbrook National Fish Hatchery in the great state of Maine. And which species will you be rescuing from eradication? Only the Atlantic Salmon, universally beloved for its tastiness and inspiring insistence on swimming thousands of miles upstream to spawn. Get ready for some good karma. APPLY.

You know you wanna save this salmon. Photo: WikiP

You know you wanna save this salmon. Photo: WikiP


Check back for frequent updates to the sub-radar positions list.

Written by Joe Thurston