Nature Coast Biological Station Summer Internship Program
(2017 internship positions filled, next application cycle opens Jan 2018)
This internship program is intended to give undergraduate students at UF an opportunity for real-world experience in research and/or extension activities. Selected students will work alongside practicing researchers and natural resource managers. These internships are six weeks, from approximately June 1 to July 15 (depending on host needs), and interns are paid $9.00 per hour for 40 hours a week. The hosts include UF/IFAS faculty as well as state and federal agency partners. Interns will participate in an orientation meeting with NCBS staff and hosts, as well as a summer wrap up workshop where interns will summarize their experiences. This is a great opportunity for students to enhance their skill sets and explore career options in natural resource fields. Application materials and host information for the 2017 program are found below. These internships are open to current undergraduates and recent graduates (within the past year) from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida.
Applications open January 2018
2017 Internship Projects
Host - Dr. David Kaplan UF Environmental Engineering
The Watershed Ecology Lab in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment at UF is seeking a highly motivated intern to assist a PhD student on a research project investigating changes in coastal forests along the Nature Coast in response to climate change. The selected candidate will have the opportunity to develop and carry out the project over the course of 6 weeks under the guidance of the PhD student, and co-author a paper for publication summarizing the project findings. This is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience at every step of the research process.
Responsibilities will include conducting field and lab work, processing data, and drafting a research paper. Field work may require long days and weekend work. The successful candidate will demonstrate a willingness and ability to carry out these responsibilities, be comfortable taking the initiative and working independently, and have some field work experience and strong writing skills.
Host - Tim Jones
St. Martins Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves span over 950,000 acres of state managed submerged land of the Big Bend of Florida. Staff work diligently to conserve the natural resources within these boundaries through various programs and partnerships year-round. We are seeking an intern to assist with these programs during the 2017 summer season. Program examples include but are not limited to: Seagrass monitoring using the Braun-Blanquet cover scale, cultural resource assessments, water quality monitoring/sample collections and education and outreach events.
• Daily Duties: opening of the facility, feeding display specimens, prep of necessary equipment for field tasks
• Field Duties: Scoring of 4 quadrats at 125 fixed seagrass (and macro algae) monitoring sites throughout the Big Bend; Various water quality monitoring techniques including in field surface water sampling, fixed station YSI monitoring locations, etc; Assist staff at educational hands-on events (manning of touch tanks); as well as equipment maintenance and various other tasks as they arise.
• Ability to swim and use snorkel gear safely (Snorkel gear is NOT provided)
• Comfortable working in extreme weather conditions (examples but not limited to: long periods exposed to Florida heat and sun; weather events like rainstorms, etc) and long days, sometimes exceeding 8 hours
• Strong communication skills with the ability to work as part of a team, as well as individually
• Related environmental experience or coursework is preferred but not required
• Experience with vessels – trailering/towing preferred but not required
• Valid Florida driver’s license
Host - Dr. Mark Clark UF/IFAS Soil & Water Science
Coastal erosion associated with wave energy and rising sea-level can result in infrastructure and property loss. Traditional approaches to stabilize eroding shorelines include use of hard structures like rip-rap, sea walls, bulkheads and other mechanical means of partitioning upland from wetland and water. This approach may help protect property from further impacts; however, it often negatively affects the ecological function of the shoreline, which can otherwise provide numerous environmental services including fisheries and wildlife habitat, improved water quality, carbon sequestration, recreation and aesthetics. The use of “Living Shorelines” as an alternative or complementary component to an armored shoreline is one way to achieve both objectives of property/infrastructure protection and ecological function. Currently underway is a demonstration Living Shoreline project to stabilize an actively eroding shoreline and enhance ecological function adjacent to an existing sea-wall in Cedar Key. This site will provide a clear example of what one type of Living Shoreline looks like and allow citizens to visualize this alternative approach to shoreline stabilization. The site provides an opportunity to investigate various implementation techniques and evaluate the benefits of this approach when compared to a more traditional armored shoreline. Investigation of techniques and benefits associated with substrates used to recruit oyster spat and establish oyster reefs, selection and holding of vegetation transplant material, planting techniques used in establishing vegetation and estimating sediment carbon sequestration potential as a result of Living Shoreline implementation are all being investigated. There are also two additional shorelines in the Daughtry Bayou area of Cedar Key that are being discussed with Stakeholders to determine the viability of integrating aspects of living shorelines into these areas as a means to help mitigate for living shorelines.
Likely intern duties and activities: collection of soil cores, vegetation surveys, fauna surveys including distribution and density of fiddler crab burrows and oyster spat settling on shell and artificial substrate, ground-truthing aerial imagery, shoreline elevation surveys, laboratory analysis of soil texture and organic matter content, post processing of vegetation photo quadrats, participating in group discussion of living shoreline designs and potential participation in stakeholder education workshops, data entry and analysis.
Desired skills and expectations: A general exposure to coastal wetlands and marine systems is desired, but not a requirement. A willingness to work outside in the Florida summer heat and humidity as well as working in the mud and wading in the water is a necessity. Personal transportation is highly desired, but not required. Occasional weekend work and being flexible to "work the tide" is required, which may include working early in the day and late in the day depending on what the tidal cycle is and what the work requires.
SUPERVISOR: Darlene Velez, Environmental Scientist III, SRWMD
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES: This is a scientific research internship involving the collection and review of water quality and quantity data and assistance with water resources projects in the Suwannee River Basin and Big Bend area. The selected candidate will work alongside District staff and receive hands-on experience calibrating and maintaining water quality equipment, collecting water quality and flow measurements, post-processing data, reviewing and quality control of data, and using ArcGIS to inventory physical features and visually display data in a meaningful way.
• Rapid Shallow Water Quality Assessment
o This project entails using continuous water quality sondes to assess the shallow water quality of the major rivers and associated springs within the District boundaries. Additional water quality grab samples and flow measurements will be collected at select locations along the way.
• Coastal Spring Water Quality and Quantity Assessment
o This project entails locating, documenting, and assessing springs along the west coast of Florida from Jefferson County to Levy County. Water quality grab samples and flow measurement will be collected.
• ArcGIS Digital Inventory of Man-made Drainage Features
o This is an on-going project to document and map man-made drainage features using ArcGIS and high resolution LiDAR imagery to better understand flow paths and local flood risk.
OTHER DAY TO DAY TASKS:
• Review of water quality and quantity data
• Maintenance of digital and paper records and files (scanning, editing, organizing)
• Calibrating and maintaining water quality instruments
• Assisting other staff as needed
MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: Basic computer skills and ability to work full time with long field days are required. Knowledge of GIS and analytical and data management experience are preferred. Good written and oral communication skills and the ability to work within a team are necessary. This position will be approximately 60% office and lab work needed the ability to sit at a computer several hours in a row, 40% field work assisting staff in remote and undeveloped areas. This will include working up to 12 hour days, being in and around water, on motorized boat or airboat, and occasionally in areas where there may be exposure to adverse weather conditions, biting/ stinging insects and ticks, poisonous plants, venomous snakes and other wildlife.
OTHER: This position is based in Live Oak, FL at the SRWMD office. Subsidized vanpool options are available from Gainesville and High Springs, FL.
Host: Charles W. Martin, UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station
Laura K. Reynolds, UF/IFAS Soil and Water Sciences Department
Type: Academic Research
Location: Gainesville, FL and Cedar Key, FL
Project Description: Seagrasses are productive habitats that support an abundant and diverse community of fishes and invertebrates, including those of commercial and recreational importance. However, much of what we know about the role of seagrass as habitat comes from studies conducted during daylight hours. Further, light pollution plagues many areas of the United States and may significantly affect food web dynamics by favoring consumers that utilize visual cues. This project will quantify the diel variability in the structure and function of seagrass and nearby unvegetated areas, as well as manipulate light levels at night to determine the impact of light pollution on fish/invertebrate habitat use. The selected intern would: 1) assist in sampling efforts to characterize the fish and invertebrate community composition in seagrass beds around Cedar Key, FL in both day and night periods, 2) identify and quantify the organisms collected, and 3) assist with manipulative experiments to determine effects of light pollution on the structure and function of seagrass beds.
Required Skills: The applicant must have reliable transportation and valid driver’s license as well as an interest in marine community ecology and the ability to work both collaboratively and independently. Job responsibilities will include night (and possibly weekend) work and some heavily lifting. Field work will be performed in small boats and may be subject to inclement weather.
Preferred Skills: Preferred applicants will have some experience with identification of invertebrates and fishes of Florida’s Big Bend or previous experience using dichotomous keys. Relevant coursework in ecology/marine biology and previous experience with small watercraft is preferred, but not required.
Housing: The position will split time between Gainesville (sample sorting, identification, and quantification) with routine trips to Cedar Key (sample collection and experiments). It is likely that overnight lodging will be arranged during field excursions.
Project Supervisors: Savanna Barry – UF IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station [primary]
Joy Hazell – Lee County Extension, Florida Sea Grant
Paul Monaghan – UF IFAS Dept. of Agricultural Education and Communications
Project Locations: Crystal River, FL/Cedar Key, FL/Steinhatchee, FL
(Candidates can be based in Gainesville and make day trips to sampling sites)
Project Start Date: June 16th
Project Duration: 120 hours x 2 interns (working as a pair for surveys*)
*please indicate in your application letter if you are applying with another person for this position
Very little information exists regarding the opinions and behaviors of recreational boaters in the Nature Coast. Knowledge of boater attitudes and behaviors is essential to design effective boater education programs. This project is designed for two paired interns that will work together to conduct in-person surveys of recreational boaters in three coastal towns of the Nature Coast (Crystal River, FL/Cedar Key, FL/Steinhatchee, FL) to assess attitudes, opinions and knowledge of boaters about seagrasses, scallops, and boating. Some of the surveys will be conducted on land at boat ramps and some surveys will be conducted using kayaks to interview boaters in the springs in Homosassa and Crystal River. Data collected in this effort will be used to target educational efforts to increase the sustainability of boating tourism in the Nature Coast, especially as it relates to seagrasses, recreational scalloping, and spring ecosystems. Interns will gain experience in human dimensions research and public education/extension activities.
- Conduct at least 60 boat ramp intercept surveys each in Cedar Key, Crystal River and Steinhatchee (minimum of 120)
- Conduct at least 45 kayak/springs intercept surveys in each spring system (Homosassa and Crystal River, minimum of 90)
- Enter data collected during the surveys
- Assist with social media outreach related to the project (sustainable scalloping and seagrass-friendly boating) – including helping gather photos and distribute posts
- Assist project supervisor with field work as needed (may include living shorelines work, boater observation trips, marine specimen collection trips)
- Assist at public outreach events during the period of the internship
- Produce a photo-journal style blog post for the NCBS website about their experience
No experience in surveying is required - interns will be trained in the survey procedure and the surveys are pre-designed. Some experience with public education is preferred, but not required. Candidates must be able to work in challenging outdoor conditions of Florida’s summer, including extreme heat, biting insects, and inclement weather. Most work will occur on weekend days, especially Fridays and Saturdays and successful candidates must be willing to work at these times as these are the days when recreational boaters are most active and available. Candidates must be comfortable approaching boaters and be able to conduct themselves in a professional and polite manner when interacting with boaters during surveys.
Project Funding: National Marine Fisheries Service – MARFIN Program
Faculty Member: Dr. Bill Lindberg, Associate Director
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program
School of Forest Resources and Conservation
Phone: 352-273-3616 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Manager: Mr. Doug Marcinek, Research Coordinator/Marine Ecologist
Coordinator of UF’s Science Diver Development Program
Phone: 352-273-3626 Email: Marcinek@ufl.edu
Brief Project Description:
This project tests and demonstrates spatially explicit reef fisheries management options. It involves habitat selection theory, large-scale experimental reef systems and grouper in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. In summer 2017, the priority tasks are:
1. To cross-calibrate sampling methodologies, specifically underwater visual census (UVC) with ROV counts and possibly fisheries hydro-acoustics.
2. To analyze our 15-year and 10-year time-series of spatially explicit data to describe the re-expansion of Goliath grouper into the NE Gulf of Mexico.
Task 1 involves scientific diving to execute replicated UVC’s, logistic preparations and teamwork for offshore operations during June and July. It also involves assisting with the deployment, operation and recovery of Dr. Will Patterson’s ROV. Task 1 might also include assisting with Dr. Kevin Boswell’s fisheries hydro-acoustics surveys. This fieldwork will be done on replicate reefs of the Suwannee Regional Reef System and/or the Steinhatchee Fisheries Management Area, to control habitat quality while comparing grouper counts derived by these different sampling methods.
Task 2 involves statistically analyzing data on frequency of occurrence and abundance of Goliath grouper, derived from prior UVC sampling. The analyses will be conducted with guidance from Dr. Mary Christman, collaborating spatial statistician. Results will be written as a draft manuscript for publication. This task augments the primary focus of the MARFIN grant, which is gag grouper.
In addition to skill sets specific to each objective, interns will develop project management skills and safe boating practices. Task 1 requires interns to be UF Scientific Divers trained through the Science Diver Development Program. Offshore boating experience is preferred, but is not a requirement. Field days typically begin before sunrise, end in late afternoon or early evening and often involve overnight stays on the Gulf Coast of the Florida Big Bend.
Host - Caleb Purtlebaugh
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s (FWRI) Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) program is a long-term program designed to monitor the relative abundance of fishery resources in Florida’s major estuarine, coastal, and reef systems. The program was developed to: 1) address the critical need for effective assessment techniques for an array of species and sizes of fishes and selected invertebrates; 2) provide timely information for use in management plans; and 3) monitor trends in the relative abundance of taxa in a variety of estuarine and marine systems throughout Florida.
The FIM program uses a multi-gear approach to collect data on various life history stages of fishes and selected invertebrates from a wide variety of estuarine habitats. Gears used to collect estuarine fishes include: 21.3-m center bag seine; 6.1-m otter trawl; and a 183-m haul seine. Offshore data collections include use of: side scan sonar; hooked gears; and underwater cameras.
This research position is located at FWC’s Senator George Kirkpatrick Marine Lab in Cedar Key, FL. The researcher will assist in all aspects of a Fisheries-Independent Monitoring program with emphasis on directing and executing statistically valid research experiments and surveys in estuarine and offshore waters on various sized boats to evaluate relative fish stock abundance, age composition, movement, growth, and condition of fish populations. Data collection may require strenuous physical activities. Field work may be done under arduous conditions (e.g. inclement weather, rough seas, and shoreline wading. This position will require that large fish be safely handled. Travel and multiple days (2-4 days) at sea on a vessel less than 60’ in length may be required. Field and office work will primarily be during weekdays, although occasional weekend travel may be required for offshore sampling. Personal transportation to the Senator George Kirkpatrick Marine Lab will be required, but not for travel related to field work. Housing is not provided, unless overnight stay is required for offshore sampling.
The individual will work independently developing a series of self-guided, 1/2 day, shallow water fishing expeditions designed for paddling fishers. A portfolio of maps, aerial images, detailed location descriptions, analyses of best times of the tide to fish,
wildlife viewing opportunities, hazards, etc. will be the project outcome. The portfolio is intended to allow first-time and repeat visitors to Cedar Key and the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge to download these self-guided fishing and wildlife viewing
tours from a website and be able to plan and execute safe, successful, and enjoyable half-day self-guided fishing /wildlife viewing trips out of the Cedar Key area. The aim is to make Cedar Keys NWR a paddle-fishing destination and make it so by providing self
-guided tours through easily accessible , high-quality information for anyone.
The highly, creative, self-motivated individual will develop and use available information and extensive field expeditions to develop these self-guided fishing and wildlife-viewing portfolios. A typical day might be a half day spent on the water with the other half day spent on the computer developing that particular self-guided paddle.
Skills and Abilities (Preferred, but really more like) Required:
1. Proven independent operator with a high degree of self motivation; a self-starter.
2. Proven ability to be able to deliver a refined, high quality, final product.
3. Someone who is highly skilled and entirely safe, on the water, alone.
4. Proven ability to work independently on the water and on a computer with writing, mapping, graphics, and production programs.
5. Proven ability to access, paddle alone in relatively remote areas, and return safe and sound. Meaning you must not get hurt, require rescue, little to no assistance - if any, and not return maimed or worse, dead; you must be home safe, for dinner, but not require any, or very little, care and feeding over the course of the day.
6. Proven skill set and desire to paddle, fish, understand wildlife-dependent recreation, develop, and produce such a project for wide public consumption.
7. Weekend and night work is not required but motivated individuals are welcome to set their own schedule based on lunar and tidal cycles, but predicated on #5.
Housing can be provided depending on the Refuge Bunkhouse schedule.
Personal transportation is helpful as a refuge vehicle is not always available.
A refuge kayak will be provided.
A flexible schedule can be accommodated over the course of the summer
In this project, the NCBS undergraduate intern will work in collaboration with Dr. Christine Angelini and her PhD student to test the potential for potato waste-based Biodegradable Elements for Starting Ecosystems (BESE) to be used to establish and sustain oyster reefs and their ecosystem services. The project will be located on Corrigan’s Reef, just southeast of Cedar Key and will require the intern to help with the project maintenance and monitoring. Specifically, the intern will be collecting data on the rates and spatial patterns of oyster larvae settlement and relative growth rates across an array of replicated BESE of different sizes that are positioned across a range of tidal heights. The intern will also monitor invertebrate and nekton diversity over time on the establishing reefs and compare their performance to nearby degraded oyster bars and healthy, live reefs. The intern may also join the PhD student on several-day trips to the east coast of Florida to monitor salt marsh and oyster reef responses to an experimental living shorelines project. The intern will be expected to work long, very physically- demanding field days and to also be available to work over some weekends. The ability to lift heavy objects and drive trucks as well as manage large datasets are required skills. Students with experience boat captaining and trailering are preferred. Housing will be provided for the student on any night when he/she needs to spend overnights near the field sites.
The mission of the NCBS is to enhance the conservation and sustainability of natural resources throughout the Nature Coast through collaborative research, enhanced public engagement, field-based courses, and hands-on training workshops.