USDA Forest Service Regional Synthesis of Old Growth Forest Definitions and Characteristics Fellowship

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Job Type Paid Internship
Salary Details The monthly stipend is $6,500, with an additional health insurance stipend supplement, and funds for travel and supplies.
Deadline Sep 30, 2024

*Applications are reviewed on a rolling-basis.

USDA Forest Service Office/Lab and Location: A fellowship opportunity is available with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (FS) within the Northern Research Station (NRS) located in Columbia, Missouri, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, or may be remote.

At the heart of the USDA Forest Service's mission is their purpose. Everything they do is intended to help sustain forests and grasslands for present and future generations. Why? Because their stewardship work supports nature in sustaining life. This is the purpose that drives the agency’s mission and motivates their work across the agency. It’s been there from the agency’s very beginning, and it still drives them. To advance the mission and serve their purpose, the USDA Forest Service balances the short and long-term needs of people and nature by: working in collaboration with communities and our partners; providing access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality; connecting people to the land and one another; and delivering world-class science, technology and land management.

Research Project: The fellow will use previously produced regional documents as a foundation to modernize the synthesis of available literature with data sets from existing studies (e.g., tree-rings) and national inventory data to help establish the state-of-knowledge on old growth forests in the USDA Forest Service Eastern Region. This will include quantitative summaries and minimum thresholds of old growth forest attributes by forest type and expanded to include attributes of mature forest systems, important for managing forests across varied social-ecological contexts into the future. From the synthesis, we will identify key parameters that define mature and old growth systems as well as assess the effectiveness of inventory and monitoring data to accurately capture these metrics across the appropriate spatial scales.

Learning Objectives: The fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Participate in synthesizing information detailing the structural characteristics of mature and old growth forests across forest types, land ownership, land-use history, and geographic region.
  • Enhance collaborative skills by participating as a member of a multidisciplinary team of research scientists, land managers, and natural resource specialists from federal and state agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations. 
  • Strengthen their research, analysis, and writing skills in spatial analysis, science synthesis, and assessments of forest assets and conditions.
  • Enhance their communication skills through participating in workshops and creating presentations for local and national conferences.

Mentor(s): The mentors for this opportunity are Christel Kern (christel.c.kern@usda.gov) and Jacob Fraser (jacob.fraser@usda.gov). If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentors.

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: 2024. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for two years, but may be renewed upon recommendation of USDA Forest Service and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The monthly stipend is $6,500, with an additional health insurance stipend supplement, and funds for travel and supplies.

Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) only.

ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and USDA Forest Service. Participants do not become employees of USDA Forest Service, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process, please email ORISE.USFS.NRS@orau.org and include the reference code for this opportunity.


The qualified candidate will have earned or be pursuing a Doctoral degree in forestry, ecology, biology, geography or a related field at the time of starting the appointment.

Preferred Skills:

  • Prior experience working with land management agencies,
  • An aptitude for research, oral and written scientific communication, attention to detail, and ability to work independently and as a team.
  • Strong statistical analyses skills, and publication record.

The application must be completed through Zintellect. https://www.zintellect.com/Opportunity/Details/USDA-FS-NRS-2024-0216 

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology, Forestry