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Watershed Management Experiential Learning for USDA Careers

The USDA is hiring 50 PAID interns for a Watershed Management internship program and are looking to recruit SDSU students! For more information on the program go to

This project is limited to full-time students that are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate disciplines at CSU’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions which include Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Cal State Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, Northridge, Cal Poly Pomona, San Bernardino, San Marcos, Stanislaus and San Diego State.

It is aimed at students in the following primary disciplines and subject matter areas: Water Science/Water Resources, Environmental Sciences/Management, Conservation and Renewable Energy and Natural Resources including Forestry and Ecology/Wetlands, Biological Sciences including General/Basic Biotechnology, Biochemistry, and Microbiology, Plant Sciences and Horticulture including Turf Sciences, Agricultural/Biological Engineering, Agricultural Social Sciences and Soil Science. These disciplines will prepare students for occupations which the USDA Office of Human Capital Management has identified as Mission Critical including, Forestry Technician, General Biological Scientist, Biological Science Technician, Soil Conservation Specialist, Soil Conservation Technician, Forestry Specialist, Soil Science Specialist and Statistician Specialist. Please note: the project is not exclusive to these disciplines and areas because the USDA employs a variety of college-educated specialists.

The primary objective of this annually renewable 4-year USDA Regional or National Collaboration project that was awarded to CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) is to measurably increase the encouragement, retention, graduation, and USDA career attainment of underrepresented California State University (CSU) students. The project is managed by the Water Resources Institute at Cal State San Bernardino and administered as a Sponsored Program of the University Enterprises Corporation.

The strategic goal of this project is to measurably increase student research skills that ensure our national forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and made more resilient to climate change, while simultaneously enhancing the sustainability of the Nation’s water resources.

This project provides funding for 50 paid Watershed Management Internships per year for a total of 200 internships to eligible students over four years. The internships provide an experiential approach to learning in the field of watershed management which helps students gain real-world experience in natural resource protection while developing new knowledge, skills, and abilities in problem-solving from a watershed perspective. The total salary paid to each undergraduate-level Watershed Management Internship is $4,500 with students earning a salary of $12.50 per hour for 360 total hours. The total salary paid to each graduate-level Watershed Management Internship is $4,500 with students earning a salary of $15.00 per hour for 300 total hours. The project also provides up to $560 per student for the purchase of approved supplies and materials.

Activities performed by interns during Watershed Management Internships are to be related to aspects of natural resource protection as it is carried out by three particular USDA agencies: the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Forest Service (FS). The training provided is aimed at preparing 80% of these 200 participants for USDA natural resource careers within NRCS, ARS and NFS, all of whom are seeking graduates from populations currently underrepresented in their workforce. Each student awarded a Watershed Management Internship will be required to identify any mandatory courses that are required as a prerequisite to submitting a USDA application and whether the CSU campus they attend offers the necessary courses. Students attending a CSU campus that does not offer the courses needed on their home campus will be required to identify where those classes are available, whether that is at another CSU or a nearby institution, and the date by which the student will complete those classes. Job descriptions for USDA entry-level positions will be placed on the WRPI website that will enable each participating student to select a position of interest and complete the proper academic preparation and work experience.

It is the sole responsibility of each participating CSU campus, with support provided by WRPI staff, to recruit underrepresented students and submit eligible Applications for Watershed Management Internships. To foster the success of this project, internships cannot be held for any CSU campus that fails to participate; rather the internships will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to those participating CSU campuses that seek them. The WRPI will also provide resources to HSI-designated CSU institutions enabling them to feature this project at on-campus programs aimed at recruiting Hispanic American students to enroll in higher education.

Applications for Watershed Management Internships are submitted to and evaluated by the WRI Project Director Dr. Lisa McElvaney and the WRPI Project Director Dr. David Zoldoske to ensure that each student, as well as the proposed scope, meets project objectives and represents the demographics of each Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) while also complying with requirements of California’s Proposition 209, which amended the state constitution in 1996 to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity in selection decisions.
Project Participant Responsibilities
Project Management Responsibilities
Project Staff Responsibilities
Faculty Advisor, Researcher, Agency Supervisor Responsibilities
Student Intern and Project Reporter Responsibilities
Contractor Responsibilities
Applying for Internships
Eligibility Requirements for USDA Watershed Management Internships
Project Approval Guidelines for USDA Watershed Management Internships
Application Form for USDA Watershed Management Internships (Word)
Intern Informed Consent for Data Collection (Word)
How CSU Students Apply for USDA Watershed Management Internships
How CSU Students Get Hired and Paid for USDA Watershed Management Internships
How CSUSB Students Apply for USDA Watershed Management Internships
How CSUSB Students Get Hired and Paid for USDA Watershed Management Internships
USDA Student Employee Timesheet (Excel)
Ordering Supplies
USDA Internship Supplies Order Form (Excel)
Ordering Supplies for USDA Watershed Management Internships
USDA Career Identification Requirement
How to Fulfill the USDA Career Identification Requirement
Online Resources for USDA Careers
Career Identification Worksheet for Watershed Management Interns (Word)
Forest Service (17 job types)
Natural Resources Conservation Service (1 job type)
Agricultural Research Service (5 job types)

Published in Employment Internship