Position Title: Paleontology Assistant
Park Unit: Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Location: Carlsbad, New Mexico
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 52 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 12/30/2024
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 proposed position is part of a larger project to document paleontological sites in caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CAVE). Of the 55 recorded caves with paleontological resources at the park, 49 have not been inventoried. The participant will have a variety of duties, responsibilities, and tasks pertaining to this inventory project. Planned components of this project include: documenting, mapping, photographing, and identifying paleontological resources in caves; conducting fossil condition assessments of cave sites; creating a geodatabase of cave fossil sites; creating a digital fossil archive; curating and identifying collected specimens; and making fossils resources available for interpretation, education, and scientific study through displays, photogrammetry, and interpretive programs. Two participants are being recruited for this project. Duties and responsibilities will be divided according to the participants’ skills and interests, with the focus on the cave field study component.

This project addresses instructions and mandates in NPS Management Policies (2006) and the 2009 Paleontological Resource Preservation Act concerning the stewardship of paleontological resources through inventorying, monitoring, management, protection, research, education, and outreach. Fossils are irreplaceable and non-renewable resources; there are a finite number of fossil specimens for any given extinct species, and that number is always decreasing as specimens are destroyed by erosion or illegally collected. The ability of CAVE Natural Resource personnel to manage its vertebrate paleontological resources is limited by incomplete data regarding the presence, distribution, condition, and significance of those resources; these gaps in information also lead to an incomplete understanding of threats to those resources. Completion of this project will provide the framework for a program to identify and protect rare paleontological resources, and to make them available for public interpretation and scientific study. This project will also address a significance statement included in CAVE’s 2017 Foundation Document concerning the use of fossil resources to understand past environments and climates at CAVE. A thorough understanding of the geologically recent fauna of CAVE, which includes a mix of extant, extinct, and locally extirpated species, is not only of interest for paleontology, but also for understanding how climate change has affected the ecosystem at the park and how the ecosystem may respond in the future. This in turn has implications for restoration and resilience efforts directed at CAVE's natural resources.


The primary deliverables will be an inventory report and paleontological resource condition assessment report. The participant will also participate in the creation of: an integrated GIS geodatabase; an integrated photographic database; and 3D images of significant fossils.


Applicants should be advanced undergraduate or graduate students whose educational background and career objectives are in paleontology. Applicants must have experience in both horizontal caving and vertical caving techniques (SRT), and be able to safely and confidently utilize those skills in the field. They must have experience surveying caves and reading and using cave maps, and should be comfortable hiking cross-country in a rugged mountain environment and traversing cave environments. Knowledge and experience in paleontology / geology field methods, geologic mapping, cave mapping, and geospatial data acquisition are important aspects of this position. Experience with photogrammetry, museum collections, and / or education and outreach would be useful for secondary facets of the project. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in cave conservation and the leave-no-trace policy. Applicants should be able to work well independently and as part of a team, both in the office and in the field with little supervision, and possess good writing and computer skills. Prior to starting this position a government security background clearance will be required.

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.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CAVE) is located in the Guadalupe Mountains, SE NM. Limestone and accompanying dolomites and siltstones from a Permian reef comprise the strata in which 120+ caves are formed. The park’s caves contain a huge abundance and diversity of speleothems including many rare and unique formations. Genesis by sulfuric acid dissolution differentiates the caves of CAVE from most of the other caves in the world. On the surface CAVE is incised with deep rugged canyons with dramatic karst spires and cliffs. The park's desert landscape is dominated by sparse shrubs, grass, and cacti providing a home to diverse wildlife. Summers in the park are hot and dry. There is frequent rain in the early fall, with occasional snow and ice in the winter. From CAVE it is a 35-minute drive to Carlsbad, NM, the nearest town with groceries and other goods and services. Carlsbad has a permanent population of 32,000 and is the base for two National Parks, a National Forest, two State Parks, and over 3 million acres of BLM land, all offering a variety of outdoor related activity opportunities. Work will primarily be in the field with some office work. A desk and computer will be provided for office work. Field sites will be accessed by vehicle, with extensive hiking required for some sites. Field work will involve both strenuous horizontal caving and the use of vertical caving techniques (SRT). Underground conditions vary with temperatures up to 68F with high humidity. Potential job-site hazards include weather, rattlesnakes, entry into caves, and riding ATVs and UTVs. Participant may be required to wear a respirator (training and fit-test will be provided). Work schedule will be flexible to accommodate long days of fieldwork, with a maximum of 40 hours per week.


  • 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. Government housing will be provided at Carlsbad Caverns National Park at no cost to the participant. Housing will be in a historic multi-occupancy house. Housing includes a kitchen equipped with appliances (refrigerator, freezer, oven, stove, microwave), and a bathroom with shower. Minimal cookware is provided. Participants will need to bring their own bedding and towels. There are on-site laundry facilities. TV and internet access are not provided. No guests and no pets are allowed in this housing. Groceries and other goods and services are located in Carlsbad, NM, a 35 minute drive from housing.

cave paleontology, paleontological resource management

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.)