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Internship (volunteer)

U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division
$30 per work day cost-of-living stipend
Closing date
Apr 6, 2024

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Volunteer Field Interns Needed for California Study of Disease Ecology in Pika Habitats




Job description


Plague, a flea-borne disease of mammals, was introduced to the United States in the early 1900s and spread >2,000 km in 40 years, establishing residency in 17 western States. Plague has joined the lengthening list of anthropogenic invaders that require intervention for wildlife conservation and human health. In collaboration with government and NGO partners, we are studying the ecology of plague in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California and Lava Beds National Monument, California.


Specifically, we are evaluating the threat of plague to American pikas.  We seek technicians for highly collaborative field work in a positive work environment. Field technicians will capture, mark, and vaccinate small mammals, including mice, chipmunks, ground squirrels and American pikas in California (montane and lava flows). Field technicians will also count and collect ectoparasites.


Field work will occur from early June 2024 through October 2024, but starting and ending dates vary by site. Workdays may exceed 8 hours in some or many cases. Hours and workdays will change depending on temperature, weather, and capture rates. In some cases, the terrain is uneven and requires being able to maneuver with equipment over rocks, logs, and vegetation. Temperatures may fluctuate from below freezing to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Technicians should be comfortable working day and/or night.


Shared housing is typically provided (e.g., living trailers) and field travel is completed using government vehicles. Each volunteer technician typically receives a stipend for each day of work. All participants will gain experience using multiple types of Sherman and Tomahawk traps, handling and marking multiple mammal species, anesthetizing individuals, combing ectoparasites, and (in some cases) vaccinating individuals against plague. All individuals will be viewed and treated as important contributors and teammates, regardless of their hiring status.




Volunteers receive a cost-of-living allowance of $30 per work day.




Required Qualifications: 

·         Have a positive attitude and a commitment to wildlife conservation.

·         Follow field safety and sampling protocols.

·         Work under harsh conditions (hot/cold weather, rough terrain, etc.).

·         Work independently and in groups.

·         Pay attention to detail and record data carefully.


Desired Qualifications:

·         Prior field experience is desired but not required for volunteer positions.

·         Experience living or working remotely.

·         Experience handling wildlife.

·         Commitment to the entire field season.

·         Previous experience driving a four-wheel drive vehicle in field settings.

·         Experience with Microsoft Excel.


Submission and Review of Applications


Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Positions will remain open until they are filled. Please submit application materials to Dean Biggins ( Please submit a brief cover letter/Email, your CV/resume, a list of 3 references, and (if possible and applicable) unofficial college transcripts. Please include the following information in your cover letter: dates of availability, a description of why you are interested in the position(s), and any further information that may speak to your qualifications as outlined in the announcement. Please write your first and last name and “Plague Field Technician Application” in the subject line.

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