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The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is offering two paid internship opportunities on a project focused on evaluating native orchids as indicators of forest health. This project is the product of a partnership between the Changing Landscapes Initiative (CLI), Virginia Working Landscapes (VWL) and the North American Orchid Conservation Center. The goal of this research project is to record and assess the status of native orchid populations, evaluate their use as indicators of forest health, and engage local citizens and students in conservation science.
The orchid field interns will gain experience in field survey methodologies, plant and tree identification, data management and analysis, and project management. Common activities include conducting transect surveys for orchids and invasive species, collecting forest characteristic metrics and taking soil samples. Interns will also collaborate with the CLI outreach coordinator to develop outreach and communications materials, and participate in remote public engagement opportunities with citizen scientists.
Together, the interns will play a significant role in advancing our knowledge of native orchid populations and the effects of land use on orchids, as well as educating the local community on topics related to orchid ecology and conservation.
Through the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), interns are offered an opportunity to develop professional skills while participating in current research on native biodiversity in Virginia. This includes learning opportunities in the areas of field techniques in ecological monitoring, data analysis, project management, and communications.
Orchid field research interns will assist with the following, as they gain important experience with conservation science:
- Expand plant and tree identification skills through field surveys and other work in Virginia forests
- Improve familiarity with methodologies in plant field ecology, database management, statistical analysis and science communication
- Gain project management skills in coordinating field work with Smithsonian staff across multiple units, graduate students, other interns and citizen scientists
- Increase technical skills using programs such as ArcGIS, R-Studio and Microsoft Excel to support analysis efforts
- Expand technical writing skills by revising and updating written project protocols for training and sharing purposes
- Develop communication skills by assisting with the creation of content for the website and other outreach platforms, and by assisting with outreach and training events with project partners and citizen scientists
Who should apply? Interns with the following will benefit the most from this opportunity:
- Experience participating in structured biological field surveys
- Experience with plant identification
- Ability to legibly and accurately record and transcribe field data
- Tolerance for a range of field conditions, including occasionally difficult terrain and wet environments
- Strong interest in science and conservation, and some experience in ecology and conservation biology
- Excellent communication skills
- Strong organizational skills
- Keen attention to detail when proofreading, copyediting and fact-checking
- Familiarity working with large databases considered a plus
- Willingness to take initiative and motivation to seek new learning opportunities
- Ability to engage within a team environment with staff, other interns and volunteers
- Willingness to take instruction and critical feedback
Additional experience with outreach is a plus, including:
- Experience using social media and other online outreach platforms
- Excellent writing skills
- Public relations experience or abilities
- Experience in event planning and facilitation
- Graphic design experience
This is a six-month internship with a desired start date of April 1, 2020. It is a full-time appointment (40 hours per week).