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Summer/Fall Honors Internships with the National Park Service

The National Park Service and University Honors Program are collaborating to offer new honors internships during the summer 2012 and fall 2012 semesters.

About the Program

The University of Minnesota is a world-class university located in a national park, along one of the great rivers of the world. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), established by Congress in 1988, stretches for 72 miles on each side of the Mississippi through the heart of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. A "partnership park," because the Park Service owns very little land, MNRRA works with public agencies and nonprofit partners throughout the corridor to protect significant resources and interpret the stories and places of this nationally-significant corridor.

The MNRRA-University of Minnesota relationship is enhanced by programs that bring students into the park for research and service projects that advance park goals and contribute to student learning and development. Students wishing to participate in these programs must be self-motivated, detail-oriented, and able to work effectively with relatively infrequent detailed supervision (meetings every other week and email contact in between). Familiarity with web-based research and ability to develop and modify Excel spreadsheets and Word documents are required.

2012 Summer/Fall Honors Internships

A wide variety of internships are available. Some are for summer, some for fall, and others are available for either semester. Each internship counts as two non-course Honors Experiences for the academic year. Most internships will require registration for a 2-credit internship course. A small number are paid internships for which no credit can be earned.

Information Sessions

Please attend one of the following information sessions:

  • Monday, 3/26, 11:30 – 12:15: 12 Nicholson Hall
  • Tuesday, 3/27, 11:30 – 12:15: N668 Elliott Hall

Position Descriptions

Mapping park water quality

The project will work with staff of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to gather data on projects on which the two organizations have collaborated. Interns will gather basic project information from agency staff and/or files, and participate in the process of mapping the discovered projects.

Community Partners: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Some GIS experience is strongly preferred. Applicants for this position should make their relevant experience and coursework clear, noting software familiarity, dataset experience, and types of products created.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Either (summer preferred)

SiteSeeing: connecting river and community

Work with staff at the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to gather materials for a youth-oriented community design project. "SiteSeeing" equips youth to ask the following questions about their immediate neighborhood/community:

  • What's there? (in terms of components of the physical landscape)
  • What used to be there?
  • What's missing?
  • What could be there?
Further information is available on the Site Lines website.

Community Partner: Minneapolis Parks Foundation

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Strong interest in exploring the ways in which the public can be more effective advocates for the future of their particular community.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Summer, to build a materials base for fall semester programming at one or more Minneapolis public schools.

Note: It is possible that the right student, if interested, could continue to work with the program through implementation.

Minnehaha Park environmental scan

Work with staff at the National Park Service and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to undertake an "environmental scan" of Minnehaha Park and its immediate surroundings—in terms of identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The scan will also identify and compile a basic record of "who's who" around the Park: private sector vendors and contractors, public agencies and their missions, staffs, and programs, and any available data on the public using the park.

Community Partners: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, National Park Service.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Interest in planning, program development, urban studies, or urban systems.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Summer

Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure evaluation

Work with staff at the National Park Service and Wilderness Inquiry to research existing evaluation reports on the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure (UWCA) and prepare materials for the evaluations to reach a broader audience. Research will also examine ways in which comparable programs—place-based learning, other river-oriented programs, and experiential/adventure learning—have been evaluated.

The UWCA program, now in its third year, gets urban youth (middle school and high school age) on the Mississippi River in large canoes for short day trips that complement their summer school curriculum. Education researchers have been conducting surveys assessing a variety of ways to measure learning outcomes, but those results are not widely distributed.

Community Partners: Wilderness Inquiry, National Park Service.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Basic familiarity with education/curriculum development or outdoor recreation and outdoor learning programs. Some knowledge of program assessment would be good.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Either

Coldwater historical research

Work with staff at the National Park Service and the Minnesota Historical Society to identify and develop for interpretive staff historical materials pertaining to the Coldwater Spring/Bureau of Mines site. Research will include gathering material from existing cultural resource management reports, project materials developed for the removal of Bureau of Mines buildings and features, and other materials.

Community Partners: National Park Service, Minnesota Historical Society.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Experience and interest in history, geography, or environmental studies.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Either

Visual material research on the river and city

Work with staff at the National Park and the River Life program to identify, sort, and develop finding aids for visual materials illustrating the intersections of the Mississippi River and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Digital materials developed between 1990 – 2009 by the University's Metropolitan Design Center (and its predecessor, the Design Center for the American Urban Landscape) are the sources for this project. Material types include aerial and ground level photos, summaries of urban design standards that are sensitive to sustainable water infrastructure and open space systems, and early visualizations/drawings of the cities in their topographical surroundings.

Community Partners: National Park Service, River Life program.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Experience and interest in urban design, history, geography, or environmental studies.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Either

Land cover change in the Minnehaha Creek watershed

Conduct a land cover change analysis on one subwatershed of the Mississippi River within the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The land cover analysis will be based upon Landsat imagery and will involve validating, classifying, and summarizing areas of change identified by the LandTrendr program. The student will also look at precedents in the NPS for management use of comparable research.

Community Partner: National Park Service

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: The ideal candidate should be pursuing a degree in geography, planning, environmental science, landscape architecture, or a similar course of study. The applicant should have basic knowledge of land use and cover and an interest in how they affect the environment and natural resources. Experience and interest in airphoto interpretation and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is preferred, in addition to working knowledge of the following computer programs:

  • ArcMap (working with shapefiles and mapping services; creating and editing data)
  • Google Earth (working with KML files)
  • Microsoft Excel
Student must have access to a computer with either ArcMap (preferred) or Google Earth software.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Either

Tracking the Invasion: Where are invasive plants in the Mississippi corridor?

Investigate invasive plant species on public lands within and adjacent to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA). There are two parts to the project, which are envisioned to take place consecutively: Part 1 is an "institutional environmental scan" of efforts to control invasive vegetation—Who is doing what? Part 2 is a mapping project, assessing conditions to date of the efforts identified in Part 1.

Part 1 asks researchers to engage in internet, phone, and email research to compile a document (likely a spreadsheet) describing the "state of the field" in invasive vegetation management. For Part 2, the researcher will take existing land survey maps and set up meetings with various land managers (Anoka County Parks, for instance) to find out what invasives each agency is dealing with and obtain an estimate of the amount of land cover occupied by invasive plants.

Community Partners: Mississippi River Fund, National Park Service, nonprofit organizations, and local park and public land management agencies.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: The ideal candidate should be pursuing a degree in geography, planning, environmental science, landscape architecture, or a similar course of study. The applicant should have basic knowledge of land use and cover and an interest in how they affect the environment and natural resources. Experience and interest in airphoto interpretation and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is preferred, in addition to working knowledge of the following computer programs:

  • ArcMap (working with shapefiles and mapping services; creating and editing data)
  • Google Earth (working with KML files)
  • Microsoft Excel
Student must have access to a computer with either ArcMap (preferred) or Google Earth software.

Credit/Paid: Paid, with remuneration of $12/hour for approximately 120 hours (comparable to a standard UROP arrangement). The intern will also be required to meet regularly with the rest of that semester's intern cohort. No credit will be earned.

Summer/Fall: Either (summer preferred)

MNopedia

Work with staff at the Minnesota Historical Society to compile materials for MNopedia. Selected interns (up to 4) will choose from among the following topics:

  • Headwaters dams on the Mississippi River
  • Urban river parks and parkways
  • Wing dams and other channel maintenance efforts in the Mississippi below St. Paul River bridges
Interns will research and write MNopedia entries, gather and select ancillary materials, compile short "sidebar" items, and otherwise prepare materials for publication according to MNopedia protocols and standards.

Community Partner: Minnesota Historical Society

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Interest in history, geography, urban studies, or environmental studies.

Credit/Paid: This is a credit-bearing internship. The selected applicant(s) will be required to register for a 2-credit internship course and meet regularly with the cohort of interns.

Summer/Fall: Either

Notes: Selected interns will need to submit an EZ online volunteer application to the Minnesota Historical Society. Interns also will need to report the total number of hours worked on the project to Society staff upon completion of the project. The Society will provide free parking for interns while they conduct research in the library at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

Digital interpretation at St. Anthony Falls

Work with staff of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board and its members (Minnesota Historical Society, Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board), as well as the River Life program and the National Park Service to develop digital interpretive features for sections of the Heritage District near the Mill City Museum and Mill Ruins Park (west side of the river, near downtown). There are two openings in this program. Each researcher will complete the following general steps, though specifics will depend on the precise skills and interests of individual researchers:

  • Conduct research in visual and documentary resources at collections pertinent to St. Anthony Falls and its history (MHS, Minneapolis History Collection, U of M)
  • In consultation with community partners, develop a prototype of at least one digital platform by which to tell a "story" of the place (cell phone tour, podcast, slide show, then/now photo set)
  • Test the prototype on an audience or focus group of U of M students
  • Revise and prepare the program for electronic distribution
  • Write a report analyzing the project.

Community Partners: St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board and other organizations focused on the Central Riverfront in Minneapolis.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities: Interest in history, geography, urban studies, or environmental studies. Willingness to learn and develop digital programs is essential (in consultation and with training).

Credit/Paid: Paid, with remuneration of $12/hour for an estimated 20 hours per week during the summer (roughly June through August). Interns will also meet regularly with the cohort of interns working during the summer.

Summer/Fall: Summer

To Apply

Download the application
Submit completed application by 4:00 pm on April 15, 2012, to Patrick Nunnally, River Life Coordinator, at .