Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities, seeks an Endangered Species Policy Intern to work in its Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI). Launched in 2017, CCI works at the intersection of science, technology, and policy to develop creative, practical solutions to improve wildlife conservation.

The Endangered Species Policy Internship is an opportunity for an advanced college, graduate, or post-graduate student to work with CCI and other Defenders staff at the interface of science, technology, and national conservation policy. The Endangered Species Science Intern will assist CCI staff with tasks and projects related to the management and recovery of threatened and endangered wildlife species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Specifically, the Intern will contribute to projects related to ESA regulations and their effectiveness in recovering threatened and endangered species. The Intern will learn to assess and analyze ESA documents (e.g., species listings, species status assessments, species 5-year reviews, biological opinions), evaluate species biological needs and conservation status, conduct statistical analyses and create online tools for visualizing data. Projects will aim to measure policy effectiveness and develop recommendations to improve species conservation. Skill development will vary with the specific projects underway at the time of the internship, but the intern will generally acquire a deep understanding of how the ESA and wildlife management and conservation more broadly is implemented in practice, along with refining skills in policy analysis, scientific writing and communication, and data visualization.


Assist Defenders’ Center for Conservation Innovation staff in developing and implementing various projects to evaluate conservation policy and practice by:

Identifying best available information on species of concern;

Collecting and organizing relevant data or databases;

Conducting non-spatial statistical analyses;

Connecting data and results about species to conservation policies;

Writing reports and scientific articles;

Attending science talks, and meetings; and/or

Carrying out other policy-related tasks as needed.


Interns must be self-starters driven by the opportunity to help transform wildlife conservation using science and technology while learning new skills. Interns should have a passion for wildlife conservation, strong research and analytical skills, a proven ability to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, and excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Preferred qualifications:

Experience collecting, managing, and analyzing research data;

Basic familiarity with the ESA process and associated regulatory documents;

General understanding of animal and plant biology, particularly for North American species; and

Basic knowledge of R and/or another statistical analysis program for data management, statistical analysis, and visualization;

Background in environmental science, wildlife management, natural resources, or a related field.


Internships are located at Defenders’ Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Remote work may be considered for exceptional candidates.


Unpaid. Local transportation costs up to $10 per day will be reimbursed. Students are encouraged to seek funding opportunities through their schools or outside sources.


Interested candidates should send an email to HR@defenders.org and reference “CCI Endangered Species Policy Intern” in the email subject line. Please include a cover letter (letter of interest) and resume as a single PDF file. In the cover letter, be sure to address your interest in working with Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Conservation Innovation specifically, and how your skills fit the goals and responsibilities of the internship position. If you require a decision by a school deadline for credit or funding, please mention the deadline in both the email and cover letter. Inquiries about CCI internships may be emailed to Dr. Jennie Miller at jmiller@defenders.org.

Candidates will be considered for a fall semester, spring semester or summer intern period, each 3-4 months although exact term is flexible. Please submit your application by the following deadline to be considered for a specific term: July 1st for fall internships (start on or around September 15th); December 15th for spring internships (start on or around February 1st); and March 1st for summer internships (start on or around June 1st). The start date and duration of the internship are flexible but we encourage candidates to apply by the deadline.

It is the policy of Defenders of Wildlife to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law, in all personnel actions.

Defenders of Wildlife is a national, non-profit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native wild animals and plants in their natural communities. Our employees work in an environment that is inclusive and honors each of our unique perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the conservation of biological diversity is best advanced by the contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and cultures. We strive toward a collective goal of including all people in the conservation of our Nation’s wildlife and wild places.