Position Title: Cave and Karst Assistant
Park Unit: Jewel Cave National Monument
Location: Custer, South Dakota
Number of positions available: 1
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 26 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 intern will work primarily with the Resource Management division, with a focus in two areas: geological research (surface and subsurface) and cave management activities. Work assignments include:

1) Geology - The intern will assist with an ongoing project to correlate surface and subsurface geology. This includes field mapping on the surface, caving trips to inventory and map subsurface geologic features, documenting field observations in Adobe Illustrator and ArcGIS, updating GIS maps, and creating geological cross sections that include cave and aquifer relationships.

2) Cave Management - The intern will a) assist with updating the park Cave and Karst Management Plan, b) assist the Resource Management Staff with photomonitoring at established locations along off-trail travel routes to document human impacts that have occurred over time; c) take in-cave photos, organize and compare them with previous photos, and write reports to summarize changes; and d) help mitigate human impacts along established tour routes, do routine microclimate monitoring, assist with data collection for an ongoing hydrology project, and assist in creating cave rescue pre-plans along the major in-cave travel routes.

Jewel Cave's enabling legislation established the park for scientific interests and public enjoyment. The NPS emphasizes science-based management decisions, preserving the resource unimpaired for future generations, and ensuring the safety of staff and visitors. These values are realized, in part, by the following park priorities: The park’s General Management Plan and Foundation Document both identify the correlation of surface and subsurface geology as a high priority need to help predict and protect cave passages that have not yet been discovered. (Volumetric airflow studies use the cave’s barometric wind to predict that the 200 miles of known represent only 3% of the total volume.) The cave management activities help ensure protection from human impacts, and the cave rescue pre-planning is proactive program to minimize the consequences of off-trail injuries. The intern’s work directly contributes to meeting the park’s primary needs for resource management and human safety.


Work Products: The final products include: 1) updated Cave and Karst Management Plan, 2) a digital cave map, updated with geological features and annotations, 3) an updated geological map in GIS, and 4) a completed cave rescue pre-plan for at least one travel route.


The candidate should:

  1. be a caver in good physical condition, with at least 100 hours of previous caving experience*
  2. have at least a BS in geology or geological engineering,
  3. have completed at least 5 weeks of geological field camp,
  4. have substantial experience with digital graphics programs such as Adobe Illustrator, and
  5. have substantial experience with ArcGIS* including the ability to create and edit georeferenced polygons and polylines.

*This experience is required in order to be considered for the position.

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 26 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

The work will be approximately 70% indoors and 30% outdoors. The park provides a dedicated computer and office space in a building with central heating and air conditioning. The outdoor landscape is about a mile above sea level, is moderately rugged, and sometimes experiences unexpected thunderstorms. Winter daytime temperatures are typically in the 20s to 40s, but can range from -20 to +60 degrees F.

The cave environment is 49 degrees F and does not require vertical caving techniques. The intern must be in excellent physical condition for caving, and comfortable in a dry cave environment, and should also be comfortable caving for up to 10 hours at a time.

Nearby Custer is a town of 1,800 with a grocery store, several convenience stores, restaurants, and basic amenities. It is 13 miles from the park. Rapid City is part of a small metropolitan area that has all facilities, including theaters many cultural and recreational opportunities. There is a nearby Regional Airport. Rapid City is 53 miles from the park.

Black Hills National Forest, Custer State Park, and several NPS areas offer many recreational opportunities, all within 3 hours' driving time.


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

Park housing is available and will be provided at no cost to the participant. Modern apartments, with 2-4 occupants, up to 2 occupants per bedroom/bathroom, common kitchen and living room, and free use of laundry facilities. No cost for utilities. Free shared WiFi.

Each apartment is furnished with a dining table and chairs, living room couch and chairs, dresser and two twin XL beds per bedroom. There is a microwave, stove/oven and refrigerator in the kitchen. The park will also provide each unit with a broom/dustpan, vacuum, mop/bucket, waste can, recyclables can, basic dishware for four, glassware for four, flatware, basic cooking utensils, cookware set, coffee pot, and toaster.

The Intern will need to provide his or her own bedding, towels, and consumable items (toilet paper, soap, laundry items, paper towels, cleaning products, etc.).

cave, karst, geology, hydrology, GIS

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.)