Washington Program Provides Veterans With Potential Paths in Science
Intern apprentices work alongside NOAA scientists and staff to gain valuable education and job experience in fisheries science.
Partnering with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, the NOAA Veterans Conservation Corps Fisheries internship program focuses on individualized attention to veteran interns, emphasizing development of skills that are adapted and responsive to both veterans and NOAA program needs, including field monitoring, data analysis and report writing. The program honors John Beal, a Vietnam veteran who overcame post-traumatic stress syndrome through the conservation and restoration of Hamm Creek and advocating for the restoration of the Duwamish River.
Veterans in this program have opportunities to develop original reports and author research papers in collaboration with NOAA staff and other outside academic institutions. Additionally, the program helps participants access federal veteran benefits such as the GI Bill for higher education and college credit, and leverage those with state and local education or benefits for other needs, including housing and mental health access.
The program helps develop additional expertise and educational credits to assist in stronger employment opportunities. Job placement of graduating interns is tracked and reported to ensure a strong linkage between the internship experience, employment, and community integration.
What Will the NOAA Veteran Conservation Corps Internship Program Accomplish?
Interns are helping with West Coast salmon recovery efforts, including collecting, analyzing, and reporting valuable ecological data, habitat characterization, and restoration project success. They learn these skills while participating in a transformative experience of working outdoors on meaningful environmental projects. Specific field work opportunities include stream restoration and monitoring, planting native plants, and watershed restoration.
Veterans benefit from these internships by diversifying their job experience, obtaining technical training and coaching for job placement, receiving mentoring from conservation professionals, while earning a monthly stipend.
“Spending nine hours a day with each other outdoors in the mud can truly build bonds between the interns and our partners in the restoration field. These relationships can turn into new jobs, educational opportunities, or friendships that help with veterans’ transitions into civilian life.” John Floberg, Marine Habitat Resource Specialist, NOAA Fisheries
In 2020, NOAA hosted two veteran interns at the NOAA Mukilteo Research Station. They are both working with field scientists in a wide range of research, data analysis and reporting. Their experience includes counting fish to understand how Elwha River restoration is performing, to investigating the effect of ocean acidification on crabs..
NOAA has hosted 9 interns at various NOAA Research Stations in Washington State since the program began in 2016. In 2020, NOAA will also be supporting an intern position with an outside partner—the Northwest Straits Commission. This new position will help to control the spread of the invasive green crab in Puget Sound waters."
How Does it Work?
The NOAA Veteran Conservation Corps internship program operates out of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Washington, with internships typically lasting six months.
A unique element of this program is the opportunity to build strong relationships with colleagues, potential employers, and higher education and universities working in the restoration field. The interns become part of a Washington statewide Veterans Conservation Corps team supporting new civilian networks valuable for leveraging next steps in their career, whether it’s in a job or finishing up a degree in natural sciences, and or moving onto another internship opportunity.
NOAA intern supervisors receive military cultural awareness training formal guidance from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. A NOAA Veteran Corps coordinator also supports the experience, selected from the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, they have military experience and are available to help respond to potential veteran intern needs.
Meet Our Partners
NOAA’s partner in this Veteran Corps internship program is the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs.