ESA-USGS Cooperative Summer Internship Program

Thank you for your interest. Nominations for 2021 are now closed.   


If you are nominated, you can expect an email from USGS personnel.  There is still another step – submitting your application in USAJobs. Be on the watch for an email from USGS.



The Ecological Society of America is pleased to partner with the US Geological Survey to offer summer internships to outstanding field-trained undergraduates.

The list of research projects and sites participating in the 2019 ESA/USGS Cooperative Summer Field Training Program are available here. 

The list of research projects and sites participating in the 2020 ESA/USGS Cooperative Summer Field Training Program will be posted soon.

A directory of field courses and programs that nominated students for this program is now available.

More information about the USGS internship programs is available here.


This program is modeled after a similar partnership with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), which was implemented in 1965. The agency is now seeking to expand the program to students trained in biological or ecological field methods. The USGS is the science arm of the Department of the Interior. The agency has 8,000 employees across all states and territories and mission areas in ecosystems, environmental health, water, and climate, as well as the traditional geologic areas like natural hazards, energy, geology, and minerals. Field biologists study plants, animals, bugs, and ecosystems. The agency is seeking to create a pathway whereby students with excellent training in biological field methods can be nominated and apply for summer internships at USGS.  Selected applicants will be offered internships at available field, laboratory, or office related scientific positions throughout the country for up to 5 months. USGS places interns wherever the project scientists need them.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, some internships may be conducted remotely. 


Bird banding

Criteria for Eligible Students and Qualifying Field Training Courses or Programs Apply. Please see details that follow. 

The Ecological Society of America appreciates your taking the time to provide information about your field course or program and the work you do to prepare our next generation of scientists. With your permission, we plan to share that information with the community in a listing of available field courses or programs.  At this time, we will only accept information about field courses or programs that also nominate students for this internship.

Process for Student Applications

  1. Students must first be nominated by faculty or directors of field training courses or experiences. Interested students who are currently enrolled in or have completed a qualifying field course or program within the last six months should contact the faculty or director of the field course or program.

  2. ESA forwards nominees to USGS.

  3. USGS invites selected nominees directly to apply for available summer/remote internships.

  4. If invited to apply, nominees will be using the USAJOBS website to submit application materials, including a résumé, cover letter and unofficial transcripts.

  5. Students will be interviewed for several projects and can rank their choices. USGS scientists make the final selections.

Columbia Torrent salamander: Photo Credit Christopher Cousins, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center.

Criteria for Qualifying Field Training Courses or Programs and Student Nominations 

Qualifying courses or programs

The following experiences may qualify as excellent field training:

  • a 4-6 credit hour course, taught in the field in which students learn to make observations, collect and analyze data. An average of 40 hours of field training is expected.

  • a series of lab experiences across multiple courses that together may add up a 4-6 credit hour course; or

  • a research experience of 10 or more weeks where the student participates in field research.

Examples of field skills involved in internships may include (this is intended to be illustrative only):

  • Identification of plants, vertebrates and invertebrates, microorganisms

  • Physiological field measurements (in situ photosynthesis, respiration, water relations etc)

  • Population assessment (quadrats, transects, mark-recapture etc)

  • Community level assessment (measuring density and diversity etc)

  • Ecosystem process field assessment (carbon or nutrient flux, whole system metabolism, watershed studies etc)

  • Assessment involving two or more trophic levels

  • Soil analysis (e.g. moisture, organic matter content, texture, functions etc)

  • Use of and/or ground truth remotely sensed images (e.g. GoogleEarth, NEON etc)

  • Water analysis (physical and biological measurements, flow etc)

Note that, consistent with USGS core values and the ESA Code of Ethics, courses and programs that nominate students are expected to have an enforcible code-of-conduct regarding sexual harassment and bullying in place for their field programs within their own institutions or organizations.

Eligibility of Student Nominees

  • USGS is particularly interested in promising students for whom the experience could be transformative.

  • Nominees must be US Citizens.

  • Nominees must be an undergraduate at the time of nomination.

  • Nominees should be comfortable with field conditions such as strenuous walking, carrying heavy loads, and adverse outdoor conditions

If you have any questions about this program, please contact:

Jordan Massey, Education Intern,

or Teresa Mourad, Director, Education & Diversity Programs

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