Position Title: Hydrology Assistant
Park Unit: Midwest Region Office, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Water Resources Division
Location: Empire, Michigan
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 52 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 10/06/2024
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.)

Each year, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SLBE) draws nearly 1.5 million visitors. Many of these visitors also tube, canoe, and kayak down the Platte and Crystal Rivers at SLBE. The impacts of this level of visitation on aquatic life and water quality are not known. Understanding what tools are most effective at quantifying these impacts is critical for managers to understand so they can select the right tools and develop effective monitoring programs that ensure the protection of these resources for future generations. SLBE hosts a molecular water quality laboratory and conducts weekly E. coli monitoring using a qPCR-based method to monitor recreational water quality. This position would have shared access to the lab, which includes equipment for filtering, processing, and analyzing water samples for basic chemical, biological, and physical water quality parameters. Multi-parameter datasondes are also available for collecting in-situ measurements.

In this position you will have an opportunity to conduct research that informs the management question of: “what are the impacts of visitor use on stream ecosystems?” Within this basic question, the successful candidate will work with NPS scientists to apply basic methods in hydrology (e.g. measuring stream flow and turbidity) to assess the impact of visitors on turbidity in the Platte or Crystal Rivers. From this core project, additional measurement methods and study designs (measurements at other parks) will be developed by the candidate in conjunction with park scientists.

Clean flowing water draws visitors to parks each year for the cultural ecosystem services it provides. However, in enjoying these services, visitors tend to degrade the resources providing them. Constant increases in visitor use at national parks has put ever increasing pressure on sensitive areas. Carrying out this research will expand management understanding of visitor use impact in sensitive areas of SLBE and other riverine parks.


Specific deliverables will be defined jointly with the successful candidate based on their skills and interests. General deliverables may include one or more of the following: 1) Datasets, 2) Data visualizations (GIS maps, figures, etc) 3) reports (technical, summary, whitepaper, etc) 4) PowerPoint presentations – we anticipate at least 1 presentation to park managers on project results.


We seek an intern with specific training in hydrology or general interest in pursuing a career in the field of hydrology or aquatic ecology. Coursework that confers knowledge of the following is preferred, but not required: Hydrology, stream ecology, limnology, fluvial geomorphology, aquatic ecology, R programming, geographic information systems (GIS).

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 position's work environment will be a mix of office, field, and lab work. Applicant should have a positive attitude working outside in heat, cold, rainy weather, or with biting insects. After a training period, most fieldwork will be conducted individually. Working in various watercraft to collect natural resource data will be required of this position. Handling, securing, loading, launching and navigating hand propelled watercraft in a variety of weather and water conditions is an expectation of the position. The incumbent will be expected to portage a canoe and carry field equipment weighing up to 50 lbs. Office and lab work will include frequent standing, sitting, and computer use. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is within a beautiful scenic resort area on the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan. Housing, medical facilities, shopping, grocery, churches, banks, day care, recreational activities, schools, and colleges are readily available within a 30-mile radius in Traverse City, and laundry is available within 18-25 miles from park headquarters in Empire. High temperatures average between 70-80 degrees in the summer, some days will reach the mid 90s.


  • 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. The intern will have a private or shared room in Park housing, depending on availability. The majority of housing consists of small, multi-bedroom houses. Fully furnished home with shared kitchen and living room, couches, chairs, dining room tables, and entertainment centers are available. Kitchen has utensils and standard appliances, along with small countertop appliances such as coffee maker and toaster. Bedroom has bed, side table, closet or clothing rack, and lamp. SIP participant will need to bring bedding and linens including pillows, sheets, and towels along with any personal items desired. Interns are typically housed within 10 miles of the office. The dune ecosystem in which the park is situated makes the surrounding areas hilly, making it difficult, but not impossible, to bike to the office from a number of park houses.

Water quality, hydrology, stream ecology, erosion, visitor use

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.)