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

"Through my experience on the reserve, I learned of my passion for field work. I am excited to say this internship has made me realize how much I really enjoy being out in the field and learning through hands-on teaching methods."

- FERP Intern, Freshman, Spring 2018

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 - Fall 2020

NOTICE: We will only be offering remote internships for Summer and Fall 2020. 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). [In non-COVID times: 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.] See internship descriptions below for directons on how to apply. All Undergraduate UCSC students, regardless of major, are welcome to apply. Please contact us with your questions!



Automated camera trap photo processing--coding: contact Gage Dayton ( to apply
Create code to automatically detect animal presence within camera trap photos to speed processing of thousands of camera trap images. Previous experience with coding and computer science required.
Rare species info guide: Internship full
Conduct literature and reputable website research on UCSC's rare plant and animal species with the goal of creating a formatted information guide to UCSC's rare species. You will provide information on the natural history, identification characteristics, regulatory status, what we know about the species from recent peer-reviewed literature, and distribution and status on the UCSC campus. 

Podcast internship: Apply here:

Produce podcast episodes exploring intersections of people and nature. This will entail making some audio field recordings, conducting interviews via Zoom, writing and recording narration, and learning basic audio editing using Audacity, an open-source software, to produce final products. Tutorials and mentorship provided! Listen to our Spring Quarter 2020 podcast, Sheltered Spring, at any of the following links: Spotify, Google Play, Apple Podcast, Anchor. We will determine a theme for Fall Quarter's podcast, as it will likely not be COVID-19 related (like Sheltered Spring). 

Photo and audio library cataloging: Internship full

Tag a wide variety (and huge quantity) of Campus Natural Reserve photos depicting plants; wildlife; stewardship; education; and research activities. Tag bird songs withing audio recordings of campus soundscapes; training provided, but there will be learning curve for identifying plants, wildlife, and bird songs.

Field Inquiry Nature Exploration mentor position: Apply here:

Work as a peer mentor to help teach introductory sections in several of the college core courses, including at least Merrill and Carson college, that focus on nature observation and inquiry skills.

Now in its second year, this project brings together a great team of campus faculty and staff, including the teaching teams of the Carson and Merrill College Core Class, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the UCSC Campus Natural Reserve, and the Ken Norris Center for Natural History.

There is no specific background set of skills or experiences that are required to be a student mentor. That said, having some familiarity facilitating and teaching groups, some knowledge of ecology/natural history, and basic comfortability being outside will all be helpful. Please don’t shy away if you are lacking experience in any of these categories-- we will provide you with training to get you up to speed. Because of public health concerns, core courses will be entirely online during Fall Quarter 2020. As such, we will need to engage with students via remote platforms (like Zoom, email, etc.). Given this, we’re especially interested in students who are enthusiastic and creative about using remote engagement as an effective learning and community-building tool. Regardless of your background, we’re very excited to teach you these skills and we’re confident that you will be an awesome member of our teaching team.

Here are a few benefits that we think you’ll gain through this experience:

--You’ll learn valuable transferable skills in group leadership, management, and teaching.
--You’ll learn how to facilitate the core skills of observation and inquiry. We’ll apply these skills to exploring the natural world, but ultimately these are fundamental critical thinking skills used in many disciplines.
--You’ll learn some basic ecology and natural history.
--You’ll work with other amazing student mentors and UCSC staff/faculty.

Here are the main requirements of each student mentor:

--View/attend the introductory plenary session of the Merrill, Carson, or other college core class.
--Participate in mentor training during weeks 1-3. Depending on where mentors are living and UCSC COVID-19 policy, we may be able to hold some in-person, socially-distanced trainings, potentially on weekends. Other training will likely involve meeting 1-2 times a week for ~2hr sessions to practice and learn techniques of teaching/facilitating nature observation and inquiry, how to manage groups, how to effectively use Zoom in this context, and to design the activities that you will lead with students later in the quarter.
--Help create a schedule of ~40 sections that will meet once during weeks 3-8.
--Lead, either solo or in pairs, different discussion sections during weeks 3-8. --Participate in 1-2 mid-quarter check-in meetings with staff and other student mentors
--Come to a final meeting/party at the end of the quarter

There are several ways you can be involved in this project:

--2-unit Environmental Studies internship
--2-unit Independent Study
--As part of your work as a CITL Undergraduate Fellow or Merrill Core Course Assistant (if that applies to you)



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.