UCSC Campus Natural Reserve Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI Fall 2015) interns measure tree growth rates.

"This internship has succeeded in helping me feel part of the UCSC community. I am learning more about the different career paths one can pursue if they decide to major in environmental sciences or studies, and I am expanding my knowledge of flora and fauna and how to identify them."

- CNR remote-learning intern, First year, Fall 2020

CNR intern observes tree growth rings in core sampleEach university quarter, UCSC undergraduates from a variety of majors intern with UC Santa Cruz Campus Natural Reserve staff. The UCSC Environmental Studies Internship Office and additional agencies across campus facilitate the ability for students to earn credit for taking part in our offerings. Students range from first-quarter freshman to graduating seniors and each spends between 6 and 15 hours a week working on a variety of projects on the reserve. Reserve staff and paid student crew leaders lead interns in a wide variety of field-based research and hands-on-learning experiences in and around our 409-acre Reserve; a unique living laboratory and outdoor classroom.


UCSC Campus Natural Reserve Internships - Winter 2023

***See below for brand new internship opportunties on the Santa Cruz Mountains Reserve***

NOTICE: We expect to hold in-person internships for Winter2023, but it will depend on where we are at with the COVID-19 pandemic. In solidarity with public health!

An average of 6 hours per week of internship work will earn you 2-credits through the ENVS Internship Office (see their website for other internship requirements beyond the 6-hour requirement). 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. 

Our general expectations for interns are as follows:
  • Use this experience as an opportunity to practice your professionalism: be punctual, communicate clearly/often/in advance about absences, show up prepared with food, water, and appropriate field gear (winter may be wet).
  • Work hard---be helpful, look for the next task, be attentive to work flow.
  • Be safe---learn the hazards of your tasks and be attentive to your own and your crew member's safety while performing your duties.
  • Cooperate and work as a team---communicate your needs, be inclusive of others' needs and talents, have fun with each other and get to know each other as you work efficiently on your tasks.
  • Be proactive---if you fall behind on hours check in with me to come up with a plan to make them up.
  • Be curious and have fun---there are so many amazing things to discover out there!

Please wait to apply to internships until you have signed up for your winter classes.

All undergraduate UCSC students, regardless of major, are welcome to apply. Please contact us with your questions!


Campus Natural Reserve Internships

CNR Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP) woody plant recensus--50 interns needed
Shift times:  Our shifts run in a 6 hour block, once per week. You would work on one shift consistently, sticking with the same shift each week unless you needed to make up hours by joining another shift.
Tentative shift times, subject to change:
Monday  9:30-3:30
Tuesday  10-4
Wednesday 9:30-3:30
Friday (time TBD--likely 9:30-3:30)
Saturday 10-4
Does the idea of spending six hours per week in the forest with new friends, feeling the winter sun filtering through the canopy, catching occasional rain drops, witnessing the first blooms and birdsong of the year, and collecting data for a globally-connected research project sound appealing? If so, we invite you to participate in research on the Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP) as a field technician on our long-term woody plant census project. The FERP is part of the Smithsonian Institute's ForestGEO network: a global network of forest plots that are allowing us to track the dynamics of forest structure and composition around the world. You will work in a small crew of fellow students to find and measure tagged trees and tag and map new stems as we begin a recensus of the 16 hectare plot.
The FERP is part of the UCSC Upper Campus and is about a 25 minute walk from Science Hill. As an intern you will earn 2 units of credit by enrolling in ENVS 84 via the ENVS Internship Office. You will complete 60 hours of project work: 9 of 10 field shifts during the Quarter (54 hours total) and a few simple FERP assignments (6 hours).  Read more about the internship here.
The internship is a convenient way to explore your interest in forest ecology while contributing to vital global research. We see something new every time and it's a great way to meet people with similar interests. 
Special notes:
  • Make sure you're prepared with gear, etc.: We will provide you with tools, gloves, and other equipment needed for your specific project, but you'll be responsible for keeping yourselves comfortable and nourished. This means dressing in layers, having rain gear if it's going to rain, having sturdy shoes or rain boots if it will rain, a hat if it's sunny, etc. We have a few sets of rain gear and some rain boots, but not enough for everyone. You can get a cheap pair of rain pants and rain jacket online--doesn't have to be fancy, can be ~$20.  Also make sure to bring enough water and food, including snacks and lunch if your shift straddles that time period. A good attitude, willingness to work hard and have fun, and lots of curiosity and enthusiasm are really helpful as well. If you have a beater pair of shoes or boots, best to wear those, as they will definitely be exposed to poison oak oils.
  • If you know you are highly sensitive to poison-oak oils, the FERP is not for you ---we wear gloves and full-body coveralls, but your footwear, and your skin if you're not careful, will be exposed to poison-oak oils. It is a woody plant, so it's actually part of our study and we do actually measure it!
  • We will be out in the woods for a full 6 hours! In addition to the above information about staying warm, fed and hydrated, you may want to bring other supplies to keep yourself comfortable out there. We have some extra toilet paper and sanitary products, but you should plan ahead and be prepared to spend 6 hours away from campus.


California red-legged frog monitoring internship--INTERNSHIP FULL FOR WINTER 2023

Shift times:  TBD

Assist with office and field work related to monitoring the federally threatened California red-legged frog. You will gain experience bioacoustics as you analyze sound recordings and place field recorders. You will read peer-reviewed literature to learn more about the species, conduct field surveys, perform stewardship work, and visit other local habitats. Prior experience with wildlife research is preferred but not required. This internship will involve exposure to poison oak (coveralls and gloves provided), so if you know you are sensitive to poison oak oils, I would avoid this internship. You will also need to spend a decent amount of time in front of a computer and getting up to speed on specialized software. We have not offered this internship before, so there will be some learning-as-we-go, for both the agency and the intern!


CNR Stewardship--2 interns needed, priority to ENVS 160 students

Shift times:  Wednesdays 9:30-3:30

Assist with a wide variety of stewardship tasks on the Campus Natural Reserve and surrounding campus natural lands. Stewardship projects include the following: (1) woody plant removal from coastal prairie, (2) coastal prairie monitoring (3) management of invasive plant species, including surveillance, monitoring, identification, mapping, and removal, (4) trail maintenance and erosion control on reserve trails, (5) assisting with trail closures, (6) cleaning out abandoned camps and other forest and meadow trash piles, and (7) installing signs and fences.

We will spend a significant amount of time conducting habitat management and adult Ohlone tiger beetle surveys in coastal prairie habitats as well. This will provide you with a basic background on the ecology and management of this endemic endangered species.

Throughout the course of the Quarter interns will visit diverse habitats in various portions of the Campus Natural Reserve, and will pick up some natural history of various plants and animals along the way. Internships require punctuality, a strong work ethic, and the ability to work outside in all weather conditions in rough, uneven terrain and in dense thickets. Interns will gain experience with a wide variety of skills needed to manage and maintain a natural reserve that receives significant human use. Training on the safe use of hand tools will be provided. Interns should wear closed-toed shoes, long pants, and should have a long-sleeved upper layer they can put on when we work in dense vegetation. Interns should also bring lunch and enough water for the day (1 to 2 liters). Alex Jones, UCSC Campus Natural Reserve Manager, will communicate each week's meeting location via email or text, so it is extremely important to be diligent with checking your UCSC email account and phone.


Campus Natural Reserve Rapid Assessment--ENROLL IN CRSN 152-02 (K. Heady instructor; mandatory class meeting Tuesdays 11:40 am-2:40 pm)

Shift times:  Following training you will be able to determine your own schedule in conjunction with other interns or IDEASS students

After training with the Campus Natural Reserve manager, you will work with fellow students from IDEASS (CRSN 152-03) to survey the newly expanded Campus Natural Reserve. The rapid assessment will include navigating on and off-trail and using a mobile data collection platform (you know, an offline app, not some kind of cool hovering and scooting platform that you'd sit on and cruise through the forest whilst collecting data) to record photographs, a variety of human impacts, rare species, invasive species, and more, within 50m2 grid cells across the reserve. Field work will be done in groups of two or more students. This will be an excellent way to get to know campus natural lands while contributing valuable information that will inform reserve management.

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. 


Santa Cruz Mountains Internships

Santa Cruz Mountains Reserve – Winter 2023 Internship

Apply here:  Applications due by 12/10


The Santa Cruz Mountains Reserve (SCMR) is a new collaboration between UC Santa Cruz’s Natural Reserve System and regional partners in the Santa Cruz Mountains. SCMR plans to help partnership agencies with wildlife research/inventory projects, invasive species monitoring, stream and wetland management, the impacts of wildfire and recreation on floral and faunal communities, and the potential for other projects related to the management of habitat and working lands in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Partnership agencies and lands within the SCMR include Cotoni-Coast Dairies (Bureau of Land Management), San Vicente Redwoods (Sempervirens Fund, Peninsula Open Space Trust, and Land Trust of Santa Cruz County), and various State Parks within the SC Mountains, with plans for more regional partners in the near future.

2 Unit Internship Projects for Winter 2023:

  • Amphibian Visual and Acoustic Surveys
  • Bird Point Counts and Behavioral Studies
  • Woodrat Midden Mapping
  • Invasive Plant Monitoring
  • Wildfire Vegetation/ Habitat Monitoring

Requirements and Experience:

Project locations are around 30 minutes north of UCSC along Highway 1 and Empire Grade Rd. Having your own vehicle would be preferred, but accommodations can be made for interns requiring a rideshare/carpool.

  • No previous internship or work experience is required
  • Interns may be required to hike 1-3 miles through difficult terrain
  • Potential to encounter poison oak, venomous snakes, or other in the field challenges
  • Potential for continued data management and statistical development outside of the field

Available Shifts:

  • 6-hour shift every week (9am - 3:00pm). Options available Tuesday - Friday.

Contact: SCMR Director, Chad Moura -

Application: Scan the QR Code or go to to apply today!