Position Title: Ecology Assistant
Park Unit: Heartland Network
Location: Springfield, Missouri
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 52 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 03/03/2025
Flexible Start Date: YES

Weekly Stipend: $665.00
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.)

This SIP internship will begin approximately March 2025 (start date flexible) and will be stationed at Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network offices on Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. The Heartland Network (HTLN) is a subunit of the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program, responsible for monitoring ecological ‘vital signs’ in 15 National Parks located in the Midwest region. ‘Vital signs’ are environmental indicators that help us determine if the ecosystems within our National Parks are healthy. HTLN has been monitoring terrestrial and aquatic vital signs since 2000. The parks we serve focus on natural features as well as historical events and people, but vital signs play an important role in telling the stories of all these unique places. Through hiring a Scientist In Parks (SIP) intern, we hope to leverage the knowledge and skills of a developing scientist to complete our vital signs field data collection as well as support data quality procedures and data analysis for reporting findings to the parks. The SIP intern will work with NPS staff to apply their expertise in aquatic and wildlife ecology and botany, data processing using spreadsheets and databases as well as scientific writing. This position will help you further develop your terrestrial and aquatic field skills, data processing, and analytical skills. Day to day tasks during the field season will involve following detailed protocols to collect data on water quality, vegetation and biotic communities, carrying moderately heavy equipment, walking long distances, and using canoes and boats to access field sites. Office days include using databases, spreadsheets and other software and tools to process and understand patterns in biological data. You will work closely with HTLN scientists to accomplish those goals. Ultimately, the work will be an opportunity to make lasting and meaningful contributions to natural resource management in parks served by HTLN.

This position will support the critical core objectives of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring program in producing scientifically reliable data and interpreting of the data to better inform management of park natural resources. This position will support projects both in the field and during data processing and analysis. Data and interpretation are used as a foundation for natural resource management in each of the parks monitored by the Heartland Network. Science staff work with parks to translate monitoring insights into management. The intern will work on databases, conduct quality assurance procedures to maintain data integrity, and assist in analysis of the long-term ecological data and reporting of significant findings. Interpretation of the data has helped to inform management actions such as prescribed fire and tree removal and protection and reintroduction of an endangered fish species.


Through field work efforts, the position will contribute to a growing long-term record of natural resource data for each park monitored by the Heartland Network. That data is critical for understanding change in those resources and providing a data driven foundation for developing management strategies. Without the long-term data, managers must make educated guesses as to the results of past efforts or what future actions to take. This intern will also work to ensure data integrity through use of relational databases and quality assurance procedures, export and format data for analysis, provide analytical products such as graphs or maps for HTLN reports or provide data visualizations to publish on the HTLN website and assist in writing/publishing reports or CMS web articles to inform park management. The intern will also work on a project using HTLN aquatic invertebrate and fish datasets to determine species turnover rates and causative habitat factors explaining turnover. Results from this analysis is critical in explaining trends in aquatic communities and stream health and will assist in the management or protection of sensitive species or species of conservation concern.


As a candidate, you will have a demonstrated attention to detail, such as following standardized methodology, ability to travel away from home for 3-8 days at a time, walk carrying moderately heavy equipment over uneven ground, and ability to work longer field days in a range of environmental conditions. Experience using canoes or jon boats would be useful, but not mandatory. Use of GNSS equipment and GIS, such as ArcMap Pro, would be very helpful. Experience with biological statistics and familiarity with R coding would also be beneficial to this position. Excellent oral, electronic, and written communication skills are essential for success. A bachelors’ degree in natural resources, botany, wildlife, aquatic ecology, fisheries, or forestry is encouraged.

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.

The position will begin approximately March 2025 (start date flexible) and will be located at the Heartland Network offices at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. Office and lab work will consist of data entry and quality assurance, sample processing, and data analysis. Field work will require long days in hot humid conditions in summer and cold wet conditions in winter. Overnight travel for multiple days of field work is expected in order to collect data on aquatic and terrestrial resources in several Midwestern parks. Field work will likely consist of 30-40% of the position. The region enjoys a temperate climate, and there are many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, hunting and fishing. Several lakes and national forests are within easy driving distance. The Springfield metropolitan area offers an active arts and entertainment community, abundant medical facilities, and many beautiful neighborhoods.


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

Park housing is NOT available. The intern will be responsible for finding housing in the nearby area. The position will begin approximately March 2025 and will be stationed at Heartland Network offices on Missouri State University campus in Springfield, Missouri. There is no housing available on campus. Springfield is the third largest city in Missouri and this area has abundant apartment and house rentals. There are three neighboring towns (within 20 min drive) that have more rural options for housing. Some Heartland offices are stationed at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in Republic, Missouri, just outside the Springfield metropolitan area. Cost of rentals can range from $600 -$900 a month depending on location within Springfield and the neighboring towns.

Aquatic ecology, water quality, fisheries, aquatic invertebrates, botany, wildlife ecology, vegetation ecology

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.)