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Please give today, while your generous donation will make triple the impact in saving wildlife.

Conservation Policy Intern/Extern

Location: Headquarters, Washington, DC. Exceptional candidates may be accepted to work remotely as externs.
Supervisor: Senior Federal Lands Policy Analyst
Department: Landscape Conservation
Compensation: Unpaid, but the position can support academic credit based on school requirements. Students are encouraged to seek funding through their academic institution or outside sources.


Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection of native animals and plants in their natural communities, is recruiting for a Conservation Policy Intern or Extern. This position will help conduct policy research and analysis to further our strategic habitat and species conservation goals on the National Wildlife Refuge System. The intern/extern will join our Federal Lands team within the Landscape Conservation department, working to defend, improve and implement federal law, regulation and policy to protect and restore wildlife and ecological integrity on national wildlife refuges across the country.

The internship/externship is designed to provide a wide range of administrative and programmatic experience with conservation issues of national significance. The intern/extern can expect to work on a variety of national wildlife refuge related issues, including endangered species conservation, public lands management, and defense against damaging resource extraction and commercial use of wildlife habitats. They will learn how science, law and policy are employed to protect, strengthen and expand the only system of federal lands and waters dedicated to wildlife conservation.


  • Research, analyze and summarize conservation information, including administrative initiatives, draft regulation, proposed legislation and federal projects affecting refuges.

  • Develop briefing papers, reports and technical comments to support public lands management planning, lobbying and litigation.

  • Draft factsheets, blogs, webpage content and other outreach materials to support refuge advocacy.

  • Assist with Freedom of Information Act requests and analysis of responsive documents.

  • Attend hearings, seminars, conferences and coalition meetings to increase working knowledge of conservation policy and advocacy.


Education: Current student pursuing an advanced degree in environmental law or policy with a background or interest in National Wildlife Refuge System law and policy, federal land management planning, biodiversity conservation and/or environmental advocacy.


  • Excellent writing, research, analytical and verbal communication skills.

  • Coursework in federal lands/wildlife/administrative law, natural resources policy, environmental studies, conservation biology or related fields.

  • Law or Masters degree student focusing on federal public lands and wildlife conservation preferred


  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to use a computer and communicate with others while doing so.


  • General office working conditions


  • Start dates are flexible, but applicants must commit to working 32-40 hours per week as an intern, or 12-20 hours per week as an extern for a minimum of 8-10 weeks.

Interested applicants should send an email to and reference Conservation Policy Intern/Extern in the subject line. Please include a resume and letter of interest. Please note in the body of your email your preference for an internship or externship and session (summer, fall, winter, or spring).

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.