Current Internship Offerings


UCSC Campus Natural Reserve Internships - Spring 2018

An average of 6 hours per week of internship work (field and lab) will earn you 2-credits through the  ENVS Internship Office (see their website for other internship requirements beyond the 6-hour requirement). Internship shifts typically happen in one 5 to 6 hour block, one day per week. Our internships require a sense of adventure and willingness and ability to work off-trail in sometimes challenging terrain. Poison oak is abundant, and though we provide coverall suits, gloves, and Technu, participation isn’t recommended if you know you are highly sensitive to poison oak. To apply for any of the following internships, with the exception of the SMURF internship (see application instructions for SMURF below): send an email to Reserve Manager Alex Jones describing your interest and ranking your choices. Also include your Spring 2018 course schedule. All Undergraduate UCSC students, regardless of major, are welcome to apply. Please contact us with your questions!

CNR Stewardship 2 interns

Plan and implement restoration and trail maintenance projects including re-vegetation, invasive species removal, erosion control, trail maintenance, forest trash clean-ups, and installation/removal of fences and signs.

Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP) woody plant re-census 50 interns (!)

Current shift times for spring FERP are to be determined

This is our biggest-need project of the upcoming year, as the re-census is a major undertaking! Work as a forest ecology field technician on the second woody plant re-census on the Forest Ecology Research Plot. Interns will work in small crews to remeasure the diameter of trees, shrubs, and saplings mapped in prior census work and add in new woody plant recruits as we build our understanding of forest dynamics on a local and global scale. Established in 2007, the FERP is the largest research project on UCSC lands, and is affiliated with a global network of forest plots administered by the Smithsonian Institute's Center for Tropical Forest Science. In addition to field work, interns will enter data, complete a reading response of a peer-reviewed forest ecology paper, and create their own illustrated personal field guide to woody plants on the FERP (no drawing skills required). Visit for more information.

One FERP shift will also conduct monitoring for the two following projects, though we don't yet know which shift will do this:

Participate in ongoing bi-weekly surveys of a network of 115 phenology litter traps and reptile/amphibian coverboards across the UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot's 16 hectares. The litter traps capture fallen seeds, leaves, fruits, bark, etc. and allow us to track seasonal changes over time. Reptile and amphibian coverboards allow us to track distribution and relative abundance of herps within the FERP's mixed evergreen and redwood forests.  Interns working on these monitoring on this project will also participate in the FERP woody plant re-census on non-monitoring weeks. Additional work may include data entry.

FERP canopy photography  2 interns

Assist with photography the FERP's canopy in an effort to document the shifting nature of light availability within the forest. Field work involves working in dense vegetation to photograph the canopy using a tripod and digital camera with hemispheric lens, processing and editing the photos, and using Image J software to analyze canopy gaps. This internship requires an ability to get up early in the morning to take photographs before the sun rises up and becomes visible in the photographs (overcast/cloudy/foggy days allow for more flexibility).

Prescribed burn pre/post data collection and monitoring  2 interns

Conduct rapid assessment data collection within coastal prairie grassland and northern maritime chaparral habitats. Previous plant identification experience required for this internship.

UCSC long-term photo point monitoring  2 interns

Develop a long-term photo monitoring project on UCSC main campus lands to visually document changing ecological and infrastructural conditions. Project will involve planning, visits to McHenry Library's historic photo archives, field work taking photographs, office work cataloging and editing photos, and the creation of a Goolge My Map (or GIS map) documenting the project. Prior experience with mapping software (ArcGIS and Google My Maps) and photography preferred.

Small Mammal Undergraduate Research in Forests (SMURF): 3-4 interns

The SMURF program is a collaboration between graduate students, the Ken Norris Center for Natural History, and the UCSC Natural Reserves that monitors long term small mammal population dynamics in the UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP). SMURF interns live-trap small mammals every quarter (including summer) and then use the data to examine environmental and ecological questions.

We offer 2-unit and 5-unit internships. All first-time volunteers must take the 2-unit course, which is an introduction to small mammal surveying and handling, data entry and management, and project organization. After completing the 2-unit course, interns can advance to the 5-unit course for the following quarter. The 5-unit course focuses on designing and conducting a research project, data analysis, scientific writing, and public speaking in addition to the further development of field skills.

Requirements for all SMURF interns:

  • Capable of working outdoors during hot or cold weather
  • Comfortable handling rodents
  • Willingness to be exposed to poison oak and ticks (coverall suits and gloves provided)
  • Capable of lifting and carrying ~20lbs of weight
  • Excellent communication and team work skills
  • Must be available to attend both trapping sessions on the following weekends:
    • TBD (Fort Ord Natural Reserve in Marina, CA)
    • TBD (UCSC Campus/FERP)

Requirements for 5-unit SMURF interns only:

  • Some background in scientific writing and statistics
  • Ability to work independently and formulate new ideas
  • A passion for conducting research in biology

How to Apply: Please email Alex Jones (, Joe Miller (, AND Chris Law ( with the following materials:

  • Your year, major, GPA, college, resume/CV, schedule of availability, and a brief paragraph describing your academic/career goals and what you hope to gain from this experience.

Additional Opportunities

In addition to our official offerings each quarter, we help students to design their own projects on the UCSC Campus Natural Reserve. Prospective applicants can contact our office with experiment, project, and thesis ideas. These opportunities are generally set up one or more quarters in advance, so that reserve staff can set aside appropriate time and resources. Select major programs allow for this work to apply toward degree credit. Contact our office for more details.