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Since 2012, the National Park Service Urban Ecology Research Learning Alliance (UERLA) and 4C have offered an innovative internship program to support climate change education in national parks in the National Capital Region (NCR). Working with NPS staff and 4C faculty and students, the interns receive training, mentoring, and an opportunity to hone their skills while developing educational materials for the parks. In the first four years of the program, the aim is to place interns in each of the 15 NCR parks, each of which is confronting its own unique challenges associated with climate change. The program also creates field research opportunities for interns, and provides them with insights into current resource management and conservation issues in urban parks.
During the summer of 2012, intern projects ranged from sustainability initiatives (e.g. reducing the carbon footprint of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park through reduction of transportation-related emissions) to science communication (e.g. communicating the impact of climate change on the cherry trees at the National Mall). During the summer of 2013, the interns: developed interpretive display boards in three parks to educate visitors about the relationship between park ecology and climate change; assisted park staff in developing communication material to explain climate adaption in parks; developed a communication guide about tick-borne diseases in the parks; and planned a visitor survey to evaluate NPS climate change messaging.
The program will be offered again during the summers of 2014 and 2015. The 10 to 12 week internships are paid positions that are open to upper-level undergraduate and graduate students of diverse career fields and from all US accredited institutions. Contact Justin Rolfe-Redding at email@example.com or Giselle Mora at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to apply.