Sitka National Historical Park: Small Park, Big Resources

NPS Unit: Sitka National Historical Park
Location: Sitka, Alaska
Project Title:   Small Park, Big Resources
Pay: Interns will be paid $12/hour for a total of 480 hours.
Position Description: Sitka National Historical Park is offering an exciting internship to a motivated and qualified applicant. This position offers a unique set of opportunities and responsibilities which include everything from hands-on scientific work in a beautiful temperate rainforest, to professional blogging, to helping prepare scientific publications, to working with and teaching local children and training seasonal park rangers.This internship is comprised of two related but distinct sets of responsibilities:

Climate change monitoring

Sitka National Historical Park (SITK) works closely with the Southeast Alaska Network (SEAN) to conduct long-term monitoring of natural resources directly influenced by climate change. Under the mentorship of the SEAN ecologist, the intern will be responsible for leading water quality and streamflow monitoring in the Indian River.  The intern will download and report water quality data, maintain water quality instrumentation, and work closely with an ecologist mentor to preserve long-term data that is essential for park natural resource management. If motivated and qualified, the intern may also have an opportunity to analyze existing data and assist the ecologist in preparing peer-reviewed scientific publications.

Science Outreach

Sitka National Historical Park maintains a burgeoning Facebook page and has a dedicated group of nationwide followers who are eager to stay abreast of resource developments at the park.  The intern will be responsible for not only chronicling weekly his/her experience as a climate change intern at the park, but will also be required to post weekly about climate change topics related to Southeast Alaska.  The candidate will also work with the SEAN network to edit and update the “Nature and Science” section of the park’s website by revising the existing text and supplementing with photographs.

Sitka National Historical Park offers a robust curriculum-based education program that serves thousands of school children annually.  During May and September, dozens of programs are presented on natural resource based topics (Sea Week, Stream Team, tide pooling and intertidal ethics, salmon, gardening).  The intern will mentor with the Educational Specialist to develop the skills necessary to assist in the presentation of these vital programs.

The candidate will assist representatives from the SEAN network with the presentation of seasonal training topics related to the I&M program.

Learning goals:
  • Confidently conduct long-term natural resource monitoring
  • Observe the chemical, physical, and biological dynamics of a park river
  • Develop social media skills related to the presentation of accessible, engaging media products related to climate change in Southeast Alaska
  • Become proficient in both formal and informal interpretation (both through attending seasonal training and completing Eppley courses)
  • Hone environmental education skills
Mentoring: The primary mentor will be the Chief of Interpretation, who is located at Sitka National Historical Park and will be the first-line of contact for coordinating the intern’s logistical and administrative needs related to his/her internship at the park.  The mentor will provide training and support with respect to all interpretation, education, and social media responsibilities and will coordinate with the Chief of Resource Management to jointly supervise the intern’s activities.The secondary mentor (from the Southeast Alaska Network) will provide training and support to ensure that the intern collects water quality and streamflow monitoring data efficiently and safely with an understanding of its importance to Sitka National Historical Park and the broader Southeast Alaska ecosystem. This secondary mentor will be available for broader discussions about natural resource careers and other scientific interests.
  • Previous work or classroom experience with aquatic sciences is desirable
  • Candidate should have strong writing and organizational skills
  • Candidate should be detail-oriented, as streamflow and water quality monitoring work requires adherence to established protocols
  • Demonstrated experience/proficiency in public speaking
  • Familiarity with the principles of interpretation

Experience working with children in an environmental education setting

Position Dates: Preferred dates: May 1 – July 24.  There is some flexibility.
Housing Available: Dorm-style housing may be available—the cost for housing would be approximately $156.00 a pay period.  Pets are not permitted in housing.  The adjacent community of Sitka also offers a variety of housing for rent or purchase. Rental units are often limited and expensive especially in the summer. 
Vehicle/License Required: A valid state driver’s license is required; personal vehicle is NOT required.
Work Environment: Located in the temperate rainforest on Baranof Island off the coast of Southeast Alaska, Sitka is isolated from the outside world.  Sitka is inaccessible by car from the mainland and has only 14 miles of road.  All travelers to Sitka arrive by boat or plane. There is a full-service airport with daily jet service to Anchorage, Juneau, and Seattle. Travelers with vehicles arrive via the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) system.Work will take place both outdoors and in an office setting.  Summer temperatures average 50 to 65 F with many rainy, overcast days.  Baranof Island is inhabited by a sizeable population of brown bears— intern will be trained in bear safety and will be required to carry a radio and bear spray while performing field work.