Internship: Water Quality (In-stream Flow & River Watch Programs)

Colorado Department of Natural Resources

Denver, CO, US

The mission of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources is to develop, preserve, and enhance the state’s natural resources for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future citizens and visitors.  In an effort to build diversity and inclusion we welcome applications from people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Our Mission is to perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state, to provide a quality state parks system, and to provide enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities that educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. Colorado Parks and Wildlife.


Description of Job


The purpose of the Youth Internship Program for Natural Resources is to employ and expose students and recent graduates to natural resource careers within Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).  The selected candidate will experience a variety of learning experiences (i.e. ride along with officers, wildlife surveys, educational activities, seminars, trainings) and a gain a broader understanding of CPW and its various careers.  This position is a great experience for those wanting to pursue a career as a District Wildlife Manager, Park Ranger, or Wildlife/Conservation Biologist.  

This program requires you to be a current student or a recent graduate (within 3 years)

CPW’s Water Section coordinates water quantity (water rights) and water quality work within the agency. This internship offers a unique opportunity to gain experience in both the water quantity and water quality fields through Colorado’s In-stream Flow and River Watch Programs. The selected candidate will split their time between each program. More information about each portion of the internship and desired qualifications is detailed below:

In-stream Flow Program

Colorado’s In-stream Flow (ISF) Program appropriates and administers water rights to preserve the natural environment to a reasonable degree, including in-stream flow rights on rivers and streams, as well as lake level rights on natural lakes. CPW’s role in the program is development of in-stream flow recommendations for submission to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). The intern will be trained in developing in-stream flow recommendations using the “R2Cross” methodology. Training involves learning and practicing the technical components of field data collection and analysis, including flow measurements, channel surveys, hydraulic modeling, mapping and data compilation, as well as exposure to water rights policy and administration. Roles of this internship will also include assisting with program planning, recommendation development, natural environment surveys, and developing presentations to diverse stakeholders. The ISF recommendation process is often a team endeavor, so this individual must be willing to work in teams both in and out of the field. 

River Watch Program

River Watch is a state-wide volunteer water quality monitoring program designed to gather samples from rivers statewide on a monthly basis. River Watch has a set annual cycle to gather and deliver water quality and macroinvertebrate data and support its volunteers.  The intern will be exposed to many aspects of this cycle including field sample collection, laboratory analysis, volunteer training, volunteer management, program presentations, as well as data analysis, entry, validation, management and filing.  The intern will also participate in laboratory sample preparation and verification, equipment inventory and maintenance, sample processing, site visits, report writing and some Clean Water Act policy work.    

The primary responsibilities associated with the River Watch portion of this internship will involve data management and analysis, laboratory sample preparation and analysis, report writing, and volunteer assistance.  These responsibilities may be adjusted to meet River Watch Program needs, as well as the intern’s skill set and interests. 

General Internship Information

In addition to working with both the Instream Flow and River Watch Programs, the intern will have the opportunity to create other specific experiences relevant to their career goals.  The intern will work with the intern supervisors to develop a work plan with measurable outputs and objectives.  The work plan will form the basis of the intern’s expected workload and performance evaluations. We are looking for someone who is interested in a career in natural resources, including watershed protection, hydrology, fisheries and wildlife management, volunteer coordination, and laboratory analysis. This experience will help the intern build a skill set for a related career in natural resources or further studies in an undergraduate or graduate program.

Pay is biweekly starting after the first two weeks of work and ending two weeks after the last two-week pay period.  No official holidays, leave time or health care benefits come with this position; however, retirement benefits may be available.  Parking is free and readily available.



Minimum Qualifications, Substitutions, Conditions of Employment & Appeal Rights


  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Position will be primarily based at CPW’s headquarters at 6060 Broadway in Denver.  However, extensive travel around the state will be necessary. Must be able to travel periodically both for lab work at our Ft. Collins office and field work across the state. Must have a valid driver’s license. 
  • Must be able to work 8-5 Monday through Friday (40 hours per week). Occasional weekend work may be required. If other commitments interfere with a 40-hour work week you will need to explain what they are and how you will manage your time. 
  • Must be willing and able to work 40 hours per week which may include some weekends and holidays.
  • Must be physically able to lift, carry or move equipment, both in and out of the field. Must be willing to work in a laboratory environment.
  • Must also be willing to spend long days in the field, including wading and working in rivers, working outside in inclement weather, and hiking long distances carrying field equipment.
  • Current student or recent graduate in a field related to stream ecology, chemistry, biology, hydrology, hydraulics, fisheries management, or water policy is preferred.
  • Demonstrate experience or willingness to learn computer programs and assist with data management, analyses, presentation development, and report writing, specifically in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
  • Willing to teach others watershed science principles, River Watch Protocols, and learn a diverse spectrum of field methodologies. Must enjoy working with people.
  • Must be resourceful and able to work independently while also contributing to a team. 
  • Attentive to detail, particularly as it relates to: 1) field data collection, laboratory sample preparation and analysis, equipment cleaning, and data entry, and 2) high level critical thinking tasks. 
  • Successful completion and passing of background screening may be required for placement in this position.
  • This program requires you to be a current student or a recent graduate (within 3 years).

Must be available these dates:

  1. Video chat interview June 18 or 19, 2020 for one hour.

  2. Start date July 20, 2020 and end date January 29, 2021, six months total.  There may be some flexibility with the exact start and end dates.

  3. Be available during September/October for a 4-day training including travel.