2021 – 03

Application deadline is Sunday January 24th, 11:59 PM EST

The National Park Service (NPS) is pleased to support the Scientists in Parks Fellows Program as a pathway for exemplary students in higher education (advanced undergraduate students and graduate students) to apply their skills and ideas to park-based challenges and solutions. The program offers 12-week paid fellowship which allows students to gain valuable work experience, explore career options, and develop leadership skills through mentorship and guidance while helping to advance NPS efforts on emerging management issues. Successful students may be eligible for non-competitive hire into federal positions for which they qualify following completion of all academic requirements.

Assessing sea turtle nesting populations at Buck Island Reef National Monument: Management implications of recovering populations (Apply by Sunday, January 24th)

Buck Island Reef National Monument, Salt River Bay National Historical Park, and Ecological Preserve
Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change and evolve, project timelines and structure remain flexible and it may be necessary to postpone start dates, begin work remotely, or reformulate the project’s description. Should any development in the COVID-19 outbreak impair a project’s timeline or results, the SIP Team will work with the park and project mentors to assess the situation and determine the best course of action at that time.

This project will take an interdisciplinary approach to address a natural resource management need in the disciplines of “Biological Sciences” and “Communication and Education”.

Biological Sciences, Natural Resources, Climate Change: Evaluating the status of sea turtle nesting populations requires long-term consistent data collection. The Buck Island Sea Turtle Research Program (BISTRP) is one of the longest-running studies in the world for critically endangered hawksbills (1987-2019). This project will utilize 30+ years of nesting data collected by BISTRP to provide a baseline assessment for nesting populations of hawksbills and green turtles at BUIS. In addition, creating a graphical representation of overlap between sea turtle nesting distribution and coastal erosion at BUIS, will allow NPS to develop management practices to ensure the continued success of sea turtle conservation and visitor access at BUIS, while accounting for impacts of climate change (i.e. storms, sea-level rise).

Communication and Education: Successful conservation of endangered species requires extensive cooperation and support between conservation agencies and local communities. The recovery of sea turtle nesting populations at BUIS is an accomplishment that should be shared by NPS and the USVI community. Since the USVI relies heavily on its marine resources for tourism, maintaining visitor access to BUIS beaches is key to ensuring the continued recovery of sea turtle nesting populations. Sharing the success of BISTRP with the USVI community is critical to inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards. The education component of this project offers an opportunity to accomplish this, by engaging local underrepresented students from low-income communities with resource management efforts and the “BISTRP Success Story”.

This position is offered through the National Park Service’s Scientists in Parks Program in partnership with Ecological Society of America.



Buck Island Reef National Monument (BUIS) in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) provides critical nesting habitat for hawksbill and green sea turtles. BUIS is the primary index nesting beach under U.S. jurisdiction for the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and is the only fully protected site in the Caribbean where hawksbills forage and nest. BUIS provides important nesting and foraging habitat for a recovering aggregation of green turtles. Sea turtles fulfill important roles in the marine ecosystems at BUIS, utilizing coral reefs and seagrass meadows as foraging habitat and coastal beaches for nesting habitat. As a federally listed species, sea turtles are a high management priority at BUIS. The NPS BUIS Division of Resource Management, with support from agency and academic partners, has conducted extensive research and monitoring of sea turtle populations at BUIS for thirty-three years (1987-2020), as part of the Buck Island Sea Turtle Research Program (BISTRP). BISTRP is an incredibly successful program that has resulted in the recovery of sea turtle populations at BUIS. 

Project Description and SIP Fellow Responsibilities:  The SIP Fellow, will accomplish the following during Summer (May-July) 2021: 

1)Using the BISTRP database, the SIP Fellow will analyze thirty-three years of saturation tagging data to provide a baseline assessment for the hawksbill and green turtle nesting populations at BUIS. In addition, the SIP Fellow will create a graphical representation of the overlap between sea turtle nesting activity and coastal erosion at BUIS.

2)Interpret the results and disseminate project findings by 1) Providing NPS Resource Managers with products that aid in the development of management practices that ensure the continued recovery of sea turtle nesting populations and sustainable visitor use of nesting beach habitat, while also accounting for threats of climate change (i.e. nesting habitat loss due to coastal erosion); 2) Working with local agencies (i.e. NPS, DPNR, USFWS, The Nature Conservancy) to incorporate findings in the USVI Caribbean Hawksbill Recovery Action Plan; 3) Developing a brief summary of project results to be distributed to local schools and conservation initiatives, to raise awareness of sea turtle conservation; 4) Preparing results from the baseline assessment for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

3)Conduct a workshop at the Youth Oceans Program, a STEM summer camp for local under-represented students in the USVI. The SIP Fellow will teach students how to monitor beaches for sea turtle nesting activity, offering students an opportunity to engage with resource management and allowing NPS to share the successful BISTRP program with local community members.

Project Deliverables and Work Products
The SIP Fellow participating in this project will:
1) Complete a baseline population condition assessment for hawksbill and green sea turtles nesting at BUIS and create a graphical representation of overlap between the distribution of sea turtles nests and coastal erosion at BUIS.
2) Provide NPS with products that will aid in the development of future management practices that ensure continued recovery of nesting sea turtle populations at BUIS. These products will allow NPS to assess the potential impacts of climate change on sea turtle nesting (including loss of nesting habitat due to coastal erosion) and visitor access to critical nesting habitat.
3) Gain significant experience in disseminating project findings beyond the realm of academia, by learning how science is used to inform effective natural resource management strategies.
4) Gain significant communication and mentoring skills by conducting a workshop for the Youth Ocean Explorers program, a STEM summer camp for local under-represented students in the US Virgin Islands. The Fellow will also develop a brief summary of project results educational materials to be shared at this summer camp, as well as with local schools and conservation initiatives to increase community awareness of local sea turtle conservation efforts.
5) The fellow will be exposed to the mid-term and final evaluation process, modeled after the NPS employee performance / appraisal plans, to simulate and train the fellow for employment with NPS.
6) Allow the NPS to cultivate the next generation of natural resource managers by passing on institutional knowledge critical to the success of the agency mission. This is accomplished by engaging young creative minds that can assist with the development of broad outreach materials to effectively educate and connect with a diverse community.

To be eligible for this position, applicants must be:

    • U.S. citizen, 18 to 30 years of age (or a veteran up to age 35)
    • Enrolled as an upper-level undergraduate (junior or senior) or graduate (Masters or Ph.D.) student that will not graduate prior to finishing your SIP Fellow Project (check each project descriptions to determine the estimated dates of completion) 


  • Applicant has already earned their undergraduate degree and is not currently enrolled, but has applied to attend graduate school beginning Fall 2021*

* In the event that you are selected as a SIP Fellow, proof of acceptance in the form of enrollment into a graduate program for Fall 2021 will be required before anything is awarded.

The successful candidate will be:

  • Student must possess a bachelor’s degree in Biology (or related field) and be enrolled in a graduate level program (Masters or PhD) with a focus in Biology (or related field, e.g. Zoology, Natural Resource Management)
  • Must have demonstrated experience in data analysis and data management and be competent without supervision
  • Must have demonstrated experience in scientific writing and/or publishing articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and be competent without supervision
  • Must have demonstrated experience in science communication to non-science audiences, including K-12 students and be competent without supervision
  • Must have a strong desire for improving diversity and inclusion in the natural sciences through effective communication and outreach, building their leadership skills, and gaining experience in developing management goals for natural resources
  • Must be interested in pursuing future positions in natural resource management with the federal government
  • Must be willing to work remotely*

*Due to COVID, NPS and the SIP Fellow will conduct this project remotely, with the exception of the 2-week on-site education component (if conditions allow). For this reason, NPS does seek a candidate with demonstrated experience and proficiency in data analysis and writing. 

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. National between the ages of 18 and 30 years old inclusive, or veterans up to age 35. Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required.

The SIP Fellow will be supervised by Chief Res. Mgmt. and Lead Biological Science Technician. CHRI has over 30 years of experience supporting natural resource management programs, ranging from long term sea turtle research and monitoring to island-wide native plant restoration. Those programs have provided mentorship and guidance for graduate students, biological science technicians, fellows, and youth volunteers. CHRI RM Division has guided many young people (particularly women) interested in STEM careers and assisted them with navigating the challenges of entering the career field. The CHRI Resource Management team will provide project oversight, facilitate engagement with park staff and collaborators, and help the SIP Fellow build the soft-skills needed for pursuing leadership-level positions.

The SIP Fellow will work with RM lead Biological Science Technician responsible for the Buck Island Sea Turtle Research Program (BISTRP) who will provide the SIP Fellow with assistance related to the BISTRP database and will serve as a great resource for federal career advice. In addition, the SIP Fellow will also have the opportunity to grow their professional network by communicating with visiting collaborators (federal, territorial, and academic) that contribute to sea turtle research and monitoring, and other natural resource research at BUIS.

We have the utmost confidence that the SIP Fellow involved in this project will be better prepared for pursuing a career with the Federal government.

Approximate start date of position: 5/10/2021
Eleven weeks of the project will be in the park. A mandatory Professional Development Workshop will be held in Washington, D.C. from August 1 – 5, 2021.

This initiative supports one student at full time work for $500/week for 11-12 weeks. In order to meet DHA requirements, students must work a minimum of 440 total hours to qualify.

Applicant must have a valid drivers license and a good driving record.
A personal vehicle is RECOMMENDED but not required for this position.

The SIP Fellows program provides a travel stipend to all fellows to supplement the cost of student travel to the park site.

Park housing is available and will be provided at no cost to the participant. NPS anticipates fellowship will be administer remotely, with the exception of a 2-week on-site education component mid-summer. NPS housing is not available for the on-site component of the project at the time of SIP application submission. The SIP Fellows program provides a housing subsidy to the intern, when necessary. NPS will assist the Fellow in finding a local short-term rental, as it done for previous student interns. There are multiple options for short-term rentals in downtown Christiansted, all of which are in a safe neighborhood and are within walking distance to the NPS headquarters, grocery stores, post office, banks, and other necessities. Short-term lodgings are furnished and have Wi-Fi access. We are requesting a subsidy for housing costs associated with the high cost of lodging accommodations in this island location. Adequate housing typically costs $600-$800 per month.

Work environment (on-site): CHRI is located in downtown Christiansted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. CHRI is the headquarters park for CHRI, BUIS, and SARI. CHRI provides office accommodations within its historic buildings; Division of Resource Management is housed in Danish West Indies Guinea Company Warehouse, circa the late 1800s. The SIP Fellow would be provided a work station in the Resource Management office; climbing stairs is required to reach the first-floor work area (no accessibility due to historic building status). During the 2-week on-site portion of the project, the SIP Fellow will primarily assist with the Youth Ocean Explorers program, a STEM summer camp administered by the University of the Virgin Islands and NPS.

Local area: Low elevation, coastal parks located within the tropical/semi-tropical Caribbean (i.e. bright sun, average temperatures 75-85 F). English is the primary language on the island; cars are American-designed driven on the left side. This onsite component of the fellowship would overlap with the beginning of the Caribbean hurricane season. CHRI will provide orientation to severe weather planning. NPS will also assist the SIP Fellow in finding short-term lodging in a safe neighborhood located within walking distance to the NPS headquarters, grocery stores, post offices, banking, and other necessities. Lodgings are furnished and have Wi-Fi access.

Supervisor: Kristen Ewen
Email: kristen_ewen@nullnps.gov
Phone:  (340)-277-6798

Application deadline is Sunday January 24th, 11:59 PM EST