Position Title: Biology Assistant
Park Unit: Joshua Tree National Park
Location: Twentynine Palms, California
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 52 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 10/07/2024
Flexible Start Date: YES

Weekly Stipend: $565.00
Relocation Allowance: $400.00

CURRENT NUMBER OF APPLICANTS: Under 75 (This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first.)

The biology assistant will play a key role in two projects; climate change vegetation monitoring and climate adaptation to protect vulnerable areas from climate change. The monitoring aspect of the internship will focus on Joshua Tree National Park’s MINERVA Plot Monitoring program, a series of 120 monitoring plots located across the park to track impacts to vegetation from climate change, wildfire, and visitor use, managed in collaboration with the University of California Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology. The biology assistant will assist in perennial plant data collection for 24 perennial plant plots, 25 annual plant plots, and plot setup to establish up to 40 additional MINERVA plots. Perennial plant plots involve detailed surveying and identification of selected target species, collecting abundance data on a wide variety of shrubs and trees, and line-point intercept data collection. Annual plant monitoring requires detailed identification of all wildflowers found in the target area as well as frequency data collection. The adaptation and resiliency aspect of the project will focus on restoration efforts in burned Joshua tree woodlands that are struggling to adapt to climate change. The biology assistant will locate and record seedling Joshua trees in the field and provide herbivory protection to these plants with cages. They will have the opportunity to experiment with other strategies to provide a competitive advantage to vulnerable plants. The biology assistant will be occasionally responsible for leading small teams of 2-6 volunteers or staff, usually in the presence of a biologist from JOTR or UCR. Because field sites are located in remote locations in the park, a large amount of time is spent hiking to the plot locations, often across boulder fields and unstable slopes. The biology assistant will also assist with data processing, quality control, and specimen processing for the MINERVA Plot program to ensure high quality data is available to the park and to interested researchers. Although these two projects will be the biology assistant’s primary focus, they will also assist with rare plant mapping and monitoring, invasive plant mapping, and vegetation restoration efforts.

The adaptation and resiliency portion of the project will directly promote the restoration of Joshua tree woodlands in climate refugia that are struggling to recover from wildfire. The preservation of Joshua tree woodlands is essential to the park’s purpose and the biology intern will be pioneering and testing new methods of protecting these areas. Data collection for the MINERVA Plot program will provide data to park management about the impacts of climate change, invasive plants, and wildfire on park vegetation. Park management uses data analysis and publications produced by our monitoring programs to make decisions about fuels management, restoration, and protections for climate refugia. JOTR is taking a highly active role in climate adaptation efforts to make park ecosystems more resilient to climate change and wildfire impacts. The restoration techniques tested and the data collected and made available by the Biology Assistant will be integral to the park’s ability to make informed decisions about these mitigation strategies.


Joshua tree seedling protection map – a map and report showing Joshua trees protected as part of this project and restoration techniques applied. Completed paper datasheets – data collection completed for 24 perennial plant plots and 25 annual plant plots. Transect photos sorted and stored in electronic systems. Completed MINERVA Plot Electronic Datasets—With assistance from the program lead, the biology assistant will produce quality-controlled datasets for all vegetation data collected in the project from 2021-2023. This will include a line-point intercept dataset, annual plant frequency data and perennial plant demographic data. Data will be entered and quality controlled.


Successful applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree with coursework in botany, ecology or environmental science. Preference given to applicants with botanical experience or familiarity with desert plants, either from coursework or field experience. Applicants must be comfortable working on rough terrain and in a strenuous outdoor environment.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (“Green Card holder”). Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required. The applicant must be available to participate for 52 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

This is a primarily field-based position in a harsh desert environment. Applicant will need the ability to hike up to 12 miles per day across difficult terrain including steep slopes and boulder fields, carrying a pack containing field equipment up to 25 pounds. Field work is primarily completed Oct-Apr, with field days ranging in temperatures from 35 F to 100 F. Park headquarters is in the town of Twentynine Palms, CA, with all services available.


  • Applicant must have a valid driver's license to drive a government vehicle.
  • A personal vehicle is REQUIRED for this position.

Park housing is available and will be provided at no cost to the participant. Housing will be provided at the Dr. James Buckner Luckie Study Center near Indian Cove in Twentynine Palms. This is a historic two bedroom house with an adjoining bunkhouse that will be routinely occupied by visiting researchers from other NPS units or collaborating universities. The property is fully furnished, has utilities and wifi and is a 15 minute drive from park headquarters. As part of internship duties, the SIP intern will be occasionally tasked with checking researchers in and out of the bunkhouse when other NPS staff are unavailable and conducting basic care around the property (i.e., rodent trapping, etc.).

Botany, Vegetation Monitoring, Climate Change, Desert, Wildflowers

This posting will close after receiving 75 complete applications, or at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, 16 June, whichever occurs first. Once you begin applying for a position, the application must be completed in one sitting. You cannot save and return later to complete it. Applicants can apply for up to five Scientists in Parks Intern positions per winter. You need to complete a separate application for each position in order to be considered. You should receive a confirmation email after successfully submitting an application. Sometimes institutional email filters/settings can redirect or block emails related to the application. We recommend watching spam, junk, and promotional email folders in case your service delivers messages there. Please visit How to Apply for additional resources and information about applying (i.e., learn what materials to have ready for applying, find a worksheet that previews application questions, etc.)