Wildlife Monitoring Member - J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

American Conservation Experience

Sanibel, Florida

Job Type Paid Internship
Salary Details $600/week
Required Experience 0 - 1 years

Wildlife Monitoring Member - J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

American Conservation Experience, a nonprofit Conservation Corps, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is seeking one Wildlife Monitoring Member to assist with wildlife monitoring and conservation projects alongside J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge Staff. During this term, the ACE members will provide support and assistance under the guidance and direction of FWS staff in support of refuge wildlife biology programs, particularly the recovery of the Sanibel Island Rice Rat.

For more information about ACE, please visit our usaconservation website.

Start Date: Early to mid-July 2024
Estimated End Date: September 2024
*an 18-week minimum commitment is required, approximately 720 hours*

Location Description: J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge - Sanibel, FL

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel off the southwest coast of Florida near Fort Myers. The Refuge was established in 1945 to safeguard and enhance the wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island, to protect endangered and threatened species, and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. The Refuge Complex is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. The Refuge Complex manages over 7,000 acres of mangrove forest, freshwater interior marsh, sub-tropical hardwood hammock, and estuary resources for a variety of fish and wildlife species. 

Multiple local, State, and Federal partners are working together to restore Sanibel Island’s unique freshwater interior marshes, which support many species and ecological functions. One such species dependent on this habitat is the Sanibel Island rice rat (Oryzomys palustris sanibeli), an at-risk species endemic to Sanibel Island. This position will contribute significantly to the abundance and habitat preferences of this poorly known species and will provide valuable information for future habitat restoration efforts.

Position Overview: The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge natural resource program is seeking one (1) Wildlife Monitoring Member to assist with wildlife monitoring and conservation projects. The ACE member will gather valuable field experience participating in a multi-partner monitoring project of an at-risk rice rat species; conduct inventory and monitoring of a variety of wildlife species; investigating and planning of habitat restoration activities. The ACE member will assist Refuge natural resource program staff with the following duties:

Primary Duties: 

  • Monitoring of the endemic, state-designated Threatened Sanibel Island rice rat (Oryzomys palustris sanibeli) using bucket camera traps. This includes construction, maintenance, deployment of traps.
  • Camera trap photo organization and analysis. This will involve learning to identify and document multiple rodent species.
  • Assisting with various wildlife surveys, including shorebird, wading and water birds, colonial bird rookery nesting, and gopher tortoise surveys.
  • Data collection, entry, management, and QA/QC.
  • Assist Refuge staff with the investigation and planning of several habitat restoration projects within estuarine and interior wetland habitats.
  • Maintaining of the station’s biological program equipment such as: boat maintenance; trap construction and maintenance; field surveying equipment, etc.

Secondary/Additional Duties:

  • Weekly water quality data reporting.
  • Participation in conservation working groups and collaborative research projects.
  • Assisting with data visualization and organization for a graduate thesis project on submerged aquatic vegetation in the Caloosahatchee River Estuary.
  • Digitizing and digitally organizing department data and documents.
  • Maintenance and organization of equipment and supplies. 
  • Manual treatment of non-native invasive plants, and other duties as assigned.
  • Chemical treatment of non-native and native invasive plant species under the guidance of licensed Refuge staff.

This individual placement is meant to facilitate professional development and promotes exposure to land management agencies and networking with professionals. This could include gaining experience in different conservation fields and shadowing different work groups.

Schedule: Duties will primarily be carried out Monday - Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. A flexible work schedule will be required, which could involve work performed outside of normal work hours, including early mornings or late evenings. Bi-weekly totals should not exceed 80 hours. Time off may be granted and requests should be directed to ACE and the USFWS for approval.

Position Benefits

Living Allowance: The ACE Member is expected to contribute ~40 hours/week and will receive a living allowance of $600/week to offset the costs of food and incidental expenses, dispersed bi-weekly.

AmeriCorps Education Award Program: This position may be eligible for a 675-hour AmeriCorps Education Award while serving under the EAP 2023/24 grant year program, valued up to $2,626.27 upon successful completion of a complete service term and 675hrs. 

Loan Forbearance: AmeriCorps members may also be eligible for federal loan forbearance. Additional enrollment steps are required.  

Qualifying Child Care Coverage: AmeriCorps members may also be eligible for qualifying childcare coverage. Additional enrollment steps are required.  

Public Land Corps Hiring Authority: Members serving under this agreement may be eligible for a federal hiring authority upon completion of their term of service and 640 hours of service. If the duration of a PLC-eligible term is not long enough for Members to accrue 640 hours of service (~16 weeks), the total hours served at the completion of the term may be eligible to be combined with hours accrued from another PLC-eligible term to meet the 640 hours requirement. PLC projects also include specific eligibility requirements such as age and citizenship. Please contact ACE staff with questions about eligibility, or view general eligibility information on our usaconservation website. 

Housing: ACE members will be accommodated in provided FWS housing at no cost for the duration of the term.
The refuge station has an RV available which includes internet and utilities. Hiking trails are within walking distance of the accommodations. 

Gear Reimbursement: ACE members will have up to $700 to spend on eligible gear purchases. Eligible gear for this position includes outerwear and field gear, and must be approved by ACE staff prior to purchase. 

Provided Training/Orientation: ACE members will receive position specific training and an orientation outlining ACE policies and procedures, clear guidance on prohibited activities, and networks for support. Specific training may include: 

  • Bird, rodent, and invasive species identification
  • Wildlife surveying and monitoring techniques
  • Data recording, handling, entry, management, and QA/QC techniques
  • Introduction to ArcGIS Pro and other useful GIS tools/applications

Scholarship Funding Opportunity: The selected candidate(s) for this position will be eligible to apply for ACE’s Access and Inclusion Scholarship. This is a $500 scholarship which is intended to make participation in ACE positions more accessible to individuals who are underrepresented in the conservation field. Scholarship recipients will be able to allocate this funding to financial need(s) of their choosing. A limited number of scholarships are available. 



  • Members must be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, as required by U.S. government contracts.
  • Willing and able to represent ACE and the partner organization in a professional, positive, and enthusiastic manner. 
  • Ability to be both self-directed/work alone, and be a positive, contributing member of a group.
  • A valid driver's license and an insurable driving record (documentation to be provided upon request).
  • Willing to undergo and must pass the required criminal history checks and a Federal background check
  • Ability to perform the essential duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
  • ACE Members will need to complete bi-weekly timesheets, beginning of term feedback forms, end of term evaluations and for longer terms, a mid-term evaluation. 
  • Member may not participate in any prohibited activities as listed in the Member Service Agreement or as defined by AmeriCorps
  • To learn more about eligibility requirements, please visit our website on usaconservation dot org. 
  • Ability to have a personal vehicle for transportation outside of position duties. No public transportation is available due to remote living and working conditions; however, the island is very bikeable.


  • Competitive applicants for this position can hold or be pursuing an associate’s or Bachelor's degree and/or have relevant experience in subject areas such as natural resources, conservation, biology, environmental science, etc.
  • Identification of birds by sight and sound, experience in wildlife survey and monitoring techniques, kayaking, GPS/GIS proficiency, and MS Excel and Word computer skills.  
  • Ideal candidates should be self-motivated, have good written and oral communication skills, work well with staff, volunteers, and visiting scientists, and be able to work independently after an introductory instructional period. 

Physical Demands, Work Environment and Working Conditions: 

  • Physical Demands: Requires frequent sitting, standing, walking, hiking, carrying, using hands to handle or feel, reaching with hands and arms, talking and hearing. Manual dexterity required for use of various tools, computer keyboard/mouse and other office equipment. Required to stoop, kneel, climb stairs, and/or crouch. Applicants must be in good physical condition, able to be on a boat all day, and able to hike up to 3 miles roundtrip over rough terrain while carrying loads of up to 30 pounds.
  • Vision Requirements: Requires close, distance, peripheral and depth perception vision as well as the ability to focus. 
  • Weight Lifted or Force Exerted: Frequently moves up to 30 lbs., ability to move up to 45 pounds.
  • Environmental: Work environment conditions can change frequently; working under adverse weather conditions and in various climates.
  • Noise Environment: Moderate to high noise such as boat motors and gas-powered chainsaws and other hand and power tools. Moderate noise such as in a business office with equipment and light traffic. 
  • Travel: This position does not require unique travel.

Environmental Conditions/Hazards:  Work will be conducted in various office and outdoor environments.Fieldwork involves regular and recurring exposure to extreme weather conditions (e.g., high heat and humidity) for multiple hours at a time, navigating wet and muddy terrain, thick vegetative conditions, and exposure to poisonous plants (e.g., widespread poison ivy), biting insects, and potentially dangerous wildlife.  The ACE member is expected to conduct duties in a safe and orderly manner so as not to endanger self, fellow staff/members or resources.


To Apply: Please submit your resume, a cover letter demonstrating your interest and experience, and contact information for three professional/academic references to ACE’s online application page for this position on the usaconservation website. Early consideration will be given as applications are received. This position may close at any time. If you have any questions regarding this position please feel free to contact ACE EPIC FWS Member Manager, Shannon Borowy. https://usaconservation.applicantpool.com/jobs/1107420.html

ACE values an inclusive workforce - if you meet at least 70 percent of the qualifications, we want to hear from you!

EEO: Employment with ACE is based upon ability, qualifications, attitude, and job-related factors. Every qualified employee or applicant has the same opportunity for recruitment, hire, training, transfer, promotion, compensation, demotion, termination, benefits, employee activities, and general treatment without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, national origin, pregnancy, ancestry, citizenship status, genetic information (including of a family member), veteran or military status, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, medical condition, marital or parental status, political affiliation, ethnicity, hair texture or style, arrest record, caste, hereditary status, endogamy, or any other classification protected by applicable local, state, or federal law.

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

Category Wildlife
Tags GIS