ESA-USGS Cooperative Summer Fellowship Program

The Ecological Society of America is pleased to partner with the US Geological Survey to offer summer internships to outstanding field-trained undergraduates for whom the experience would be transformative.

Nominations are now closed. 

If you are a student nominated for this internship, please watch for an email from USGS regarding your status in November.

Questions? Please contact


Federal Agencies Want Your Students

Federal agencies WANT students! Experiences of the USGS-ESA Cooperative Summer Internship program. Faculty from Minority-Serving Institutions are especially encouraged to nominate students. These are paid summer internships. Don’t let travel and housing be an issue. There are virtual positions available!!

The recording of the USGS Cooperative Summer Fellowship program information session is available on YouTube

Past Research projects and Intern sites 

2023 Summer internships
2022 Summer Fellowships
2021 Summer Fellowships

Directory of Field Courses and Programs

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.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Surveying at LK PLACID NY (Credit: Isabella Lucia with courtesy of USGS)

The ESA-USGS Cooperative Summer Fellowship Program was established in 2018 to complement the USGS longstanding NAGT/USGS internship program.  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.  Some internships may be conducted remotely. 

Criteria for Eligible Students and Qualifying Field Training Courses or Programs Apply

The USGS Cooperative Summer Fellowship Program is seeking undergraduate students who have strong preparation in skills valuable to USGS. We are particularly interested in providing opportunities for students for whom an internship is a unique opportunity, and could help propel them toward a professional path. ESA and USGS are committed to diversity and inclusion. We especially encourage field course and program directors to nominate students from underrepresented communities in ecology.

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

  • 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. Field programs and courses taught remotely due to the pandemic qualify at this time.  Only faculty or program Director may submit nominations. 
  • ESA forwards nominees to USGS.
  • USGS invites selected nominees directly to apply for available summer/remote internships.
  • If invited to apply, nominees will be using the USAJOBS website to submit application materials, including a résumé, cover letter and unofficial transcripts.
  • Students will be interviewed for several projects and can rank their choices. USGS scientists make the final selections.

Criteria for Qualifying Field Training Courses or Programs and Student Nominations 

The following experiences may qualify as excellent field training:

  • Yupik student with swan. Photo by Craig Ely, Courtesy of the USGS

    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.

Field programs and courses taught remotely due to the pandemic are qualify at this time. 

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.

Please also 

Eligibility of Student Nominees

  • USGS is particularly interested in promising students for whom the experience could be transformative.
  • Nominees must have completed a qualifying field course or program within the last six months.
  • Nominees must be US Citizens.
  • Nominees must be an undergraduate at the time of nomination.  Those with May graduation dates are still eligible. 
  • Nominees should be comfortable with field conditions such as strenuous walking, carrying heavy loads, and adverse outdoor conditions.
Intertidal Zone Invertebrates Haystack Rock (Credit: A .Scott with courtesy of USGS)

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

Teresa Mourad, Director, Education & Diversity Programs @

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