Washington Program Provides Veterans With Potential Paths in Science
Veteran interns work alongside NOAA scientists and other fisheries experts to gain valuable education and job experience in fisheries science.
Currently Open Veteran Internship Opportunities
About NOAA Veterans Conservation Corps Fisheries Internships in Washington
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. In reflection of John Beal, internships always feature at least some work outside, because John and the VCC program recognize the enormous benefit of ecotherapy to veterans.
Veterans in this program have opportunities to experience a wide range of science-based assignments, including the potential to collect field data, develop reports, and assist with research papers in collaboration with fisheries scientists at NOAA and its partners. 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 Fisheries Internship Program Accomplish?
Interns have been engaged in a variety of experiences, including helping with West Coast salmon recovery efforts, conducting fisheries research, monitoring and growing shellfish and kelp, and other activities that improve fisheries and the marine ecosystem.Interns also benefit by collecting, analyzing, and reporting valuable ecological data, habitat characterizations, and restoration project success. They learn these skills while participating in a transformative experience of working outdoors on meaningful environmental projects..
Veterans also benefit from these internships by diversifying their job experience, obtaining technical training and coaching for job placement, and receiving mentoring from conservation professionals, all 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 2022, Washington hosted one veteran intern at the Northwest Straits Commission working on eradicating invasive green crabs in northern Puget Sound. Another intern was placed with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, where they helped monitor and improve conditions for kelp and shellfish, two organisms that serve as important underpinnings to the Puget Sound ecosystem. In 2021, an intern was hosted at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, two more interns were hosted at the NW Straits Commission, and a third at the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.
NOAA has hosted 14 interns at various NOAA Research Stations and with NOAA partners in Washington State since the program began in 2016.
How Does it Work?
The NOAA Veteran Conservation Corps Fisheries Internship Program operates out of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center Research Stations in Washington, as well as with NOAA’s partner organizations such as the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and the Northwest Straits Commission. The internships are flexibly designed in duration and hours to best suit the needs of the intern and supervisor.
A unique element of this program is the opportunity to build strong relationships with colleagues, potential employers, and academic personnel working in the restoration and species recovery fields. The interns become part of a Washington statewide Veterans Conservation Corps network supporting the next steps in their career, whether it’s working in the fisheries field or finishing up a degree in natural sciences, or even moving on to another more targeted internship opportunity.
NOAA intern supervisors receive military cultural awareness training and formal guidance from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. A separate NOAA coordinator also supports the veteran’s experience, and serves as a mentor and additional support available to respond to veteran needs.
Meet Our Partners
NOAA’s partners in this Veteran Corps internship program include:
- Washington Department of Veterans Affairs
- Puget Sound Restoration Fund
- Northwest Straits Commission
- Washington Sea Grant
- Blue Dot Sea Farms
To browse open internship opportunities, visit the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs internships page.