Astronomy Interpretation Intern

 In Mosaics in Science
A Mosaics Intern is an entry level natural resource science internship that focuses on career exploration and building fundamental natural resource science skills. Each Mosaics Intern will receive a weekly stipend of $400, park-provided housing or a housing allowance and paid travel expenses. Interns who successfully complete 640 hours of work in one or more eligible internships and are under the age of 26 will be eligible for the Public Land Corps Non-competitive Hiring Authority for 120 days following the completion of the internship. Successful completion of a Mosaics in Science internship does not guarantee that the participant will be hired in to a federal position.  

The Mosaics in Science Program is focused on persons that are under-represented in STEM fields. Students and recent graduates that are African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American are encouraged to apply for these internships. In order to be eligible for a MIS intern position, applicants must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent legal resident ("green-card-holder”) between the ages of 18 and 35 years old.  

Position Description: The Astronomy Intern will assist with the park's extremely popular public astronomy programming. They will work most if not all astronomy program nights, running telescopes and providing information to visitors about objects they are viewing in space including galaxies, nebula and stars. They will work with University partners to develop social media and outreach for the park's new research observatory. The intern will also conduct public solar viewing using a solar telescope. They will work towards developing their own nighttime astronomy public talk. Additionally, they may work on other projects like kids' programs, and other astronomy programs (guided full moon hikes, for example).

This position is offered through the National Park Service's Mosaics in Science Internship Program in partnership with Environment for the Americas and Greening Youth Foundation.

Work Products: The intern will present a public astronomy program which includes approximately 45 minutes of a talk with A/V equipment and at least an hour of informal interpretation as people look through the telescopes. Through informal interpretation at solar and regular telescopes they will help to further the park's goal of connecting people to our night skies. Many people of different backgrounds arrive here and realize they have never seen a nighttime environment like this. The intern and fellow dark rangers will help find ways for everyone to relate to this important natural and cultural resource. This intern will also develop a social media outreach event relating to the park's new research class observatory.

Physical/Natural Environment: Great Basin National Park spans elevations from 5,000 feet to 13,000 feet. The majority of work will take place close to 7,000 feet. Summer days can frequently be hot and very dry while evenings are cool. The park is in a very remote area near Baker, NV and the nearest town with most services is about an hour away. A car is necessary. Internet and cell phone service are available but sometimes unreliable.

Work Environment: Much of the work will be done outside at night in a dark environment. Even in summer nights may be cold, windy, and infrequently stormy. Working the astronomy programs requires some physical labor and the ability to safely move heavy objects under dim light conditions. There will be some office work, but many days will be partially spent outside with the solar telescope. These work shifts can be hot, and water and sunscreen are necessities.

Mentoring: The Astronomy Intern will work directly with the lead dark ranger. The ranger will offer guidance and advice on astronomy, interpretation, working with the public, and working for the National Park Service. The lead and other dark rangers will train the Astronomy Intern on use of the scopes, identifying night sky objects and how to conduct an interpretive program. The intern will develop skills in public speaking and crowd management and public safety.  The Dark Ranger team works together often which creates a close-knit supportive team. Great Basin also frequently provides opportunities for cross training with the Resource Management and Maintenance divisions.

Learning Goals: The intern will experience working in a team of interpretive rangers and frequently collaborating, as well as coordinating with researchers using the observatory. They will use the most current understanding of interpretation and public speaking. This is a good opportunity to gain an appreciation for the evolving nature of interpretive divisions in national parks. 

Some academic or experiential background in astronomy is preferred. Coursework or degrees in observational astronomy or astrophysics will be valued, as will experience as an interpreter or naturalist.  The intern must be comfortable speaking in front of large groups (sometimes 150+) of people and conveying scientific concepts to a general audience. They must also strictly adhere to safety rules while ensuring the public does so, as well.

Prior to starting this position a government security background clearance will be required.

Applicant must have a valid driver's license and a good driving record. A personal vehicle is not required.

Park housing is provided at no cost to the participant. It will either be a dormitory style building with private bedrooms, bathrooms shared with one other person, and communal kitchens and living areas, or a three bedroom house with one or two roommates.

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Greening Youth Foundation (GYF, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to nurture environmental stewardship among diverse youth and young adults, while exposing them to conservation careers.
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