Tadpole Sampling in Glacier National Park.
Photo Credit: Sarah Bisbing

The YLCC program provides paid summer internships to highly accomplished graduate and upper-level undergraduate students to work on diverse issues related to climate change and its effects in national parks. The internship projects may occur in national parks or program offices and are designed by National Park Service (NPS) staff to meet high-priority needs of parks and programs. General topic areas include resource conservation and adaptation; climate effects monitoring; park facilities adaptation; policy development; sustainable operations & mitigation; and communication, interpretation, or education.

Previous climate change interns have worked on a wide range of projects, including developing new interpretive programs in urban parks, monitoring glacier mass balance, developing management plans that anticipate new wildfire regimes, organizing a workshop on preservation of historic buildings, conducting greenhouse gas inventories in parks, and creating high-quality videos about climate change impacts on parks.

Internship positions run full-time (40 hours/week) for 11-12 weeks, generally during the summer months. They pay $14/hour plus benefits. Interns are employees of the University of Washington. Most positions come with free or subsidized housing in dormitories or other shared accommodations in parks. They are all rigorous and challenging projects that demand high-level academic knowledge and skills and that afford interns with considerable autonomy and opportunity for leadership under an effective mentor.

The YLCC operates under the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Direct Hire Authority (DHA), which means that students who excel in their internships and then subsequently complete their undergraduate or graduate degree requirements are eligible to be hired without competition into NPS or other DOI jobs for which they are qualified. While the DHA enables NPS to hire highly qualified and experienced candidates into open positions efficiently, the YLCC program is not a guarantee that positions appropriate to any given intern will exist in the near future.

Professional development is a key attribute of the YLCC. All interns will be mentored by an immediate NPS supervisor and by the national program coordinator. Additionally, they will be included in a closed Facebook group and expected to contribute to ongoing discussion and learning about their projects, climate change, NPS, protected areas, and related professional matters. There will be an expense-paid orientation session for all interns at the start of the summer in Washington DC, as well as a professional development workshop in Washington at the end of the summer. These sessions will allow interns to network with each other and with NPS and DOI leaders, learn about federal climate change response programs, explore federal career opportunities, and develop practical skills like writing federal resumes and searching for federal jobs.