While Mount Rushmore National Memorial is famous for a large mountain sculpture, it also protects the old growth ponderosa pine forest that surrounds the faces of past presidents. Nearly 3 million visitors per year and an active rock-climbing area have increased the pressure on this forest and its understory vegetation.
The goal of the intern will be to assist the Northern Great Plains Network and Mount Rushmore with mapping off-trail visitor use and preparing for a restoration plan. Another task will be to increase public awareness of the forest resource by documenting and photographing native plants throughout the park. The images will be added to the park website and other outreach materials that guide visitors to stay on the trail.
The intern will: (1) visit areas of the park that are seeing heavy visitor use, including existing trails, rock climbing areas, parking areas, concession facilities, and visitor center; (2) learn to use mobile mapping technology and inventorying social trail locations and habitat types; (3) photograph trails and common plants in the park; (4) create public outreach products to increase visibility of native flowers and leave-no-trace ethics (including social media posts and language for the park’s website); and (5) work with park staff to develop recommendations for potential restoration projects and prevention of further resource damage.
Required skills include: a good attitude, good communication skills, valid driver’s license, and the ability to hike over rough terrain for short distances (approximately 1 mile) in hot and cold weather.
Desired skills include: biology degree or major, writing skills, basic computer skills (e.g. Microsoft Word and Excel), familiarity with GIS, science communication experience, previous exposure to botany and forestry (e.g. course work, gardening, etc.), and the ability to work independently. The best candidate would have experience with field biology, mapping, and GIS.
The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent legal resident (“green-card-holder”) between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, of diverse background, or a veteran up to age 35. Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required.