Freshwater Intern

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Minneapolis, MN, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


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Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 72 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy offers competitive compensation, 401k or savings-plan matching for eligible employees, excellent benefits, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We also provide professional development opportunities and promote from within. As a result, you will find a culture that supports and inspires conservation achievement and personal development, both within the workplace and beyond.


The Freshwater Intern (FI) will participate in an internship experience that provides meaningful and relevant experience in the field of conservation and water resources management.  The program will encourage the Freshwater intern to infuse energy and fresh insight to our teams. Ideally, the Freshwater intern will get hands-on experience in areas of interest and help TNC accomplish freshwater conservation goals. They will receive exposure to conservation strategy at higher levels and direct experience in a variety of activities done by the Freshwater Team of the Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota Chapter of TNC.  This experience will benefit the student in their future careers.  This position will start May 13, 2019 and require 30 to 40 hours per week during the summer.  The position ends August 30, 2019. The main office location is in the downtown East neighborhood of Minneapolis at 1101 West River Parkway, Suite. 200.  Much of the work will be done at a variety of locations around the region, therefore the willingness and ability to travel is required. A valid driver’s license is required. Reliable transportation is preferred.


The Water Resources Management Intern will gain real-life work experience and conservation perspective.  They will add capacity to the Conservancy’s Freshwater team and incorporate their ideas into our work.  The focus of work will be on projects with the Freshwater conservation and restoration team of TNC’s Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota chapter. The intern will work under the direction of multiple TNC Freshwater Team staff including Kristen Blann, Leif Fixen, Leah Hall, Chris Lenhart and/or David Schmidt.


Field work assistance

  • Assist in field collection of hydrologic data from monitoring wells and water quality sampling at various TNC sites
  • Assist in stream geomorphology surveys and functional assessment of streams in Minnesota and the Dakotas
  • Conduct plant community surveys estimating species coverage and abundance
  • Assist in soil studies related to soil health, organic matter, carbon and other soil properties in conservation and/or agricultural BMP studies
  • Carry out data collection to support TNC restoration and management projects in the Upper Mississippi River basin, in the Driftless Area of Southeast Minnesota, in western South Dakota and/or other projects within the Chapter’s 3-state territory

GIS and desktop studies / analysis

  • Map and assess natural resources and conservation information to support TNC decision making in conservation and restoration as well as agricultural projects related to water quality. Depending on the student’s ability this could range from making maps of TNC properties to conducting more complex spatial analyses
  • Help develop PowerPoint presentations, story boards, fact sheets and/or other outreach activities

Other potential activities

  • Participate in donor or volunteer events and activities such as canoe trips or tree plantings
  • Collect photos to support Chapter newsletters, presentations, and reports
  • Assist with data entry from scientific data collected during the field season
  • Summarize data to facilitate use by TNC scientists
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, in hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.


We are seeking undergraduate students or recent graduates who are looking to gain hands-on experience in freshwater conservation and restoration work while learning and contributing to TNC’s freshwater work objectives. Individuals who are highly organized and proactive with a passion for conservation and restoration work in aquatic ecosystems are encouraged to apply. All students applying for this position must have the following minimum qualifications.                  

  • Experience managing and prioritizing tasks from multiple sources.
  • Junior-or senior-level college student (or recent grad) currently pursuing a degree in natural resources, conservation biology, hydrology, botany, soil science or related environmental science fields
  • Experience with identify plants commonly found in the Minnesota and South Dakota
  • Experience with Excel, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint
  • Experience working with hydrologic data sets and/or doing basic statistics


  • Experience in natural resources or conservation science via coursework, volunteer or work experience
  • Ability to do field work under sometimes adverse weather conditions potentially in mud, rain, high heat and humidity
  • GIS computer experience to do mapping and analysis for conservation & restoration projects
  • Plant identification for field assessment of restoration and management projects
  • Experience in field data collection of hydrologic or water quality data
  • Ability to understand the big picture and how specific conservation projects related to that.
  • Accountability and responsibility in working with scientific data (being committed to accuracy)
  • Willingness to learn and be collaborative
  • Strong aptitude for communicating oral and written ideas
  • Critical thinking and strong follow through skills


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