Position Title: Ecology Assistant
Park Unit: Cabrillo National Monument, Channel Islands National Park, Inventory and Monitoring Division, Mediterranean Coast Network, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Location: Thousand Oaks, California and Ventura, California
Number of positions available: 2
Can this position be fully remote: NO

Duration: 20 Weeks (not flexible)
Start Date: 02/03/2025
Flexible Start Date: NO

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 Inventory and Monitoring program (I&M) of the Mediterranean Coast Network (MEDN, which includes CHIS, SAMO, and CABR) is one component of a national effort to understand the state and trajectory of the biological health of the parks. One of I&M's primary goals is to address management issues based on scientific analysis of data collected methodically over time. The first few weeks of the internship will consist of an orientation to I&M, MEDN, and its three parks, as well as planning logistics and generating maps and species lists in preparation for field work. The participant will then engage in two primary I&M disciplines—terrestrial vegetation and bat monitoring.

Terrestrial vegetation monitoring: From February to May, the participant will partner with staff botanists to conduct annual vegetation monitoring. The data collected will contribute to a long-term dataset that will help us understand large-scale shifts in the parks' vegetation communities over time, for example, in response to removal of cattle, burning by wildfires, or trampling by people. On a typical field day, the botanist and participant will together drive and then hike to one or more pre-determined sites to collect data characterizing the species richness, density, and/or abundance of all vascular plants occupying a 10 m x 30 m area. Much of the field work will occur in chaparral and coastal sage scrub vegetation types, but grasslands, woodlands, and riparian areas will also be surveyed. Field data will be recorded into an iPad, and unknown taxa will be collected and/or photographed for later scrutiny. After the field survey, the unknown taxa will be identified to the highest resolution feasible, site and plant photos will be uploaded and filed, and data will be error-checked and backed-up. On office days, the participant will help generate graphical visualizations and written summaries using the data collected. These products will contribute to an associated annual report, on which the participant will be coauthor.

Bat monitoring: During an orientation week early in the internship, in small part while on CHIS vegetation monitoring tours, as well as over three weeks in May/June, the participant will co-lead the year's bat monitoring with another SIP participant at CHIS and SAMO, and also at CABR if time allows. The team will deploy and retrieve acoustic bat detectors at pre-determined locations two days per week. These data will contribute to the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat), which informs park managers on the diversity and activity of bat species in the parks. Acoustic monitoring by SIP participants in recent years revealed at least 12 bat species at SAMO (including the relatively rare yellow bat), and at least 14 species inhabiting CHIS!

Finally, the participant will participate in and/or contribute a presentation to MEDN's annual I&M Science Symposium or end-of-internship briefing. Depending on time and interest, additional enriching activities could include ground-breaking restoration activities, preparing voucher specimens for submission to a permanent reference herbarium, writing short publishable articles on noteworthy plant collections, exploring ways to improve the vegetation monitoring program, or discussing ideas for pursuing academia and scientific research. For example, our 2024 SIPs built and studied with a Kahoot! online learning game to become familiar with the most common plant species encountered in our vegetation monitoring.

This position will contribute to the core objective of the national I&M program—to address management issues based on scientific analysis of data collected methodically over time. One of the primary duties of the participant will be to assist with the collection of vegetation data that will be used to understand the long-term trajectory of vegetation change at each of the MEDN parks. At CHIS, one of the most important management decisions was the removal of non-native grazers, such as cattle and sheep. At SAMO, catastrophic wildfires have recently swept through nearly 90% of NPS land. At CABR, impacts from high park visitation and previously extensive military use threaten the park's resources. How is the vegetation responding to these changes? And what management options may accelerate the recovery of native vegetation? The data we collect in 2025 will contribute to a foundation from which to address these management questions.

The participant will also make our bat monitoring program possible. North American bats face unprecedented risks from continuing and emerging threats including habitat loss and fragmentation, disease, wind energy development, and climate change. Our local bat monitoring will provide reliable data to promote effective conservation decision making and support the long-term viability of bat populations across the continent.

Finally, interacting with fellow scientists at MEDN's annual I&M Science Symposium, generating tangible analyses and summaries for annual reports, and engaging in additional enriching activities will facilitate the intellectual and professional development necessary for a career in natural resource management.


The most important deliverables will be to contribute to the safe operation of all monitoring expeditions and also to a positive and inclusive work atmosphere. The participant will also contribute to the size and quality of the vegetation and bat monitoring datasets, assist with analyzing and summarizing the year's data, and deliver a brief presentation at the MEDN annual I&M Science Symposium and/or their end-of-internship briefing.

For vegetation monitoring, the primary deliverables and work products will include producing preparatory planning materials for field work, collecting field data, identifying plants to the highest resolution possible, and generating graphical visualizations and written summaries of the data collected, all together with (or under direct supervision of) the parks' botanists. Identifying plants to the highest resolution possible will involve preparing voucher specimens for collected plants, submitting the voucher information to public online herbarium databases, and uploading plant photos collected from their fieldwork to CalPhotos (a curated online nature gallery), all of which will aid future MEDN staff and the general public in plant identification, especially of taxa or developmental stages that are difficult to identify.

For bat monitoring, the key deliverable will be acoustic data from approximately 10 NABat grid cells at SAMO, plus additional sites at CHIS, complete with proper metadata, submitted by the participant directly to the NABat database. Additionally, as time and expertise allow, summary statistics including graphs and tables produced by the participant will be used to update MEDN and park managers on the status and trends of bat species found in the three parks.


Required Qualifications: It is imperative that the participant be able to maintain a positive attitude in the face of sometimes unpleasant field conditions, and be in excellent physical condition to hike comfortably and with agility up to about eight miles per day including on trails, off trails through (sometimes) very thick brush, over (sometimes) steep and slippery terrain, carrying a backpack with field gear, food, and water totaling up to about 30 pounds. Ability to use electronic devices such as an iPad or tablet is also required. A valid driver's license and daily transportation to and from park headquarters in either Thousand Oaks or Ventura, CA, are necessary. Finally, good oral and written communication skills, and scheduling flexibility including with occasional last-minute changes, are also important.

Desired Qualifications: An undergraduate degree in the natural sciences is preferred. Technical experience with plant identification, such as using dichotomous keys and hand lenses, is strongly desired but not essential. Experience deploying bat detectors is not required. However, the participant should be comfortable trouble-shooting electronics and gathering field data with accuracy. Experience driving 4x4 vehicles on dirt roads, and navigating with a global positioning (GPS) device, maps, and directions would be an asset. For office work, familiarity with Microsoft Office products, Google Earth, Google Drive, and Google Sheets would be helpful. The successful candidate will be independent, technologically-minded, detail-oriented, organized, resourceful, and personable.

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 20 Weeks in order to be considered and participate.

The participant will work at CHIS, SAMO, and possibly CABR. Southern California is one of five places in the world with a Mediterranean-type climate, characterized by cool wet winters and warm dry summers. Temperature at coastal sites is strongly moderated, and dry-season fog is common; at inland sites freezing and 110+ F are occasional. Landscapes span clean sandy beaches, rolling grassy hills bounded by cliffs, and mountain ridges up to 3111 feet elevation sliced by steep valleys that are clogged with shrubs and trees. CHIS features five remote, boat-accessible islands with frequent and powerful winds. SAMO is the largest urban national park in the USA, encompassing a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. CABR occupies the southern tip of the Point Loma peninsula in San Diego, home to unique vegetation assemblages like maritime succulent scrub. The remoteness and isolation of CHIS islands offers no access to urban amenities, but SAMO and CABR are adjacent to major metropolitan opportunities. The participant will routinely work outside for as much as 10 consecutive hours/day in hot, cold, windy, foggy, sunny, and/or extremely pleasant conditions, as well as hike off-trail over very steep and slippery terrain, often in recently burned areas (SAMO). Hantavirus is known from the region, and ticks, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and poison-oak may be encountered. A 1:9 ratio of office to field work is anticipated.


  • 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 participant will be provided their own room in SAMO’s centrally located Diamond X Ranch dormitory, which has eight single-occupancy bedrooms, four shared bathrooms, and a common living room in a 3250-square-foot, LEED-certified complex that was built in 2010. Each bedroom has a twin XL bed, closet/drawer spaces, and nightstand. As this dorm building just underwent a transition from double- to single-occupancy, there will likely be additional furniture (e.g., desk and chair) provided by move-in date. The participant should bring their own bedding, pillows, and towels. Amenities include a shared kitchen with microwave, oven/range, refrigerator/freezer, cooking utensils, as well as washer/dryer, cable TV Basic, Wi-Fi, and outdoor parking. Major and specialty grocery stores and other modern conveniences lie within a 10-15 minute drive. However, public transportation from near the dorms is unfortunately unavailable. Downtown Los Angeles is less than an hour drive to the east, and Santa Barbara is less than an hour to the northwest. Occasional field trips to the remote islands comprising Channel Islands National Park (CHIS) are typically eight consecutive days with no access to the mainland. Housing provided on the islands is similar to the mainland, except that there is no access to stores, washer/dryer facilities, or personal vehicles. For a single, week-long trip planned to Cabrillo National Monument (CABR), hotel accommodation will be provided in urban San Diego, CA.

Vegetation, Bats, Monitoring, Mediterranean, 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.)