GIS Intern, Defenders of Wildlife (Remote; Washington, DC)


Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities, seeks a geographic information system (GIS) 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 GIS 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. In this position, the intern may help collect and analyze large spatial datasets, create published reports, scientific articles, web applications, and maps related to the conservation of threatened and endangered wildlife species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Skill development will vary with the specific project, but the intern will generally have the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of how the ESA is implemented in practice and experience in geographic information systems (GIS), cartography and mapping, statistical analyses, scientific writing, and creating interactive data visualizations. This position advances Goal 1, Strategy 4 of Defenders’ Strategic Plan, to “Mobilize science and technology to advance wildlife conservation.”

This internship position is for the spring of 2021, from February 1 through May (end date flexible).


Assist the CCI’s GIS staff in developing and implementing mapping projects that demonstrate and/or evaluate wildlife conservation policy and practice by:

  • Reviewing literature and searching databases related to threatened and endangered species;
  • Creating, collecting and, organizing relevant spatial data;
  • Conducting spatial and non-spatial statistical analyses;
  • Creating online maps;
  • Writing a blog post or other content to share the work; and/or


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. Successful candidates will have introductory geospatial skills and basic experience with GIS software at minimum.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience collecting, managing and analyzing geospatial data; Experience with open source platforms (e.g., QGIS);
  • Basic knowledge of an analytical programming language (e.g., R, Python);
  • Familiarity with and strong interest in relevant web mapping development (e.g., ArcGIS Online, Google Earth Engine, Javascript, HTML, CSS);
  • General understanding of animal and plant biology, particularly North American species;
  • Background in environmental science, wildlife management, natural resources, or a related field.


Unpaid. If the candidate is based at our Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and commuting to the office, local transportation costs up to $10 per day will be reimbursed. Students are encouraged to seek funding opportunities through their schools or outside sources.


Please submit as a single PDF a cover letter (letter of interest), resume, and a list of contact information (email, phone) for up to 3 professional references. In the cover letter, be sure to address:

–          your interest in working with Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Conservation Innovation specifically;

–          how your skills fit the goals and responsibilities of the internship position;

–          how the internship will assist with your career goals;

–          the date of your deadline if you require a decision by a deadline for school credit or funding

–          whether you are available part-time or full-time (either may be possible depending on the specific internship project);

–          whether you would work remotely or are available to work in our Washington, D.C. office.

If you apply to more than one intern position at Defenders of Wildlife, please be sure to tailor your applications to each position. Inquiries about the GIS Intern position may be emailed to the hiring manager, Dr. Lindsay Rosa, at

For more information, click here.

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