Restoration Intern

Job Locations
Seasonal, Full-Time
Job Category


The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state, regional, national, and international programs, nature centers, and chapters have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. As a sentinel species, we recognize that the fate of birds is inextricably tied to the fate of us all.


Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the United States and seven countries in 17 state and regional offices, 41 nature centers, and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Together as one Audubon, we aspire to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss.


Audubon is committed to a culture of workplace excellence, where our talented and diverse staff are deeply engaged, with a strong sense of belonging. The birds Audubon pledges to protect differ in color, size, behavior, geographical preference, and countless other ways. By honoring and celebrating the equally remarkable diversity of the human species, Audubon will bring new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout the hemisphere.

Position Summary

Restoration Interns play a critical role in the management and restoration of Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) and Chicago Park District (CPD) Natural Areas. Under the direction of Audubon's Stewardship Program Associate, Restoration Intern - Crew Chief and Restoration Intern - Assistant Crew Chief, Restoration Interns will help to restore ecological health and integrity of prairie, savanna, woodland, wetland, and hemimarsh habitats by removing invasive species at various preserves and natural areas in Cook County.


This internship is an excellent opportunity to gain experience in natural areas management and land stewardship, as well as contribute to the growing network of people and organizations in the Chicago area that possess a personal commitment to conservation. The commitment is a full-time, 40 hours per week, seasonal paid position that runs from June through September. The 40-hour work week requires commitment to a Monday through Friday schedule with most workdays scheduled 7am-3pm. Interns must also be extremely flexible with scheduling as field work is subject to change daily to hourly due to weather, work adjustments and crew needs. They are also expected to be prepared to work occasional weekends throughout the season. Interns should have reliable transportation to and from work sites. Interns will report to the Stewardship Program Associate and preference will be given to those who commit to the full length of the program.


The program is physically rigorous and challenging but offers interesting and educational experiences to an energetic and motivated person. The positions are offered through Audubon’s Wings Internship program in partnership with the FPCC and CPD.


This program offers:

  • Paid position with competitive compensation.
  • Reimbursement of mileage to and from work sites.
  • Uniforms, work vests and personal protective equipment (PPE) provided by Audubon.
  • Ecological certifications, licenses, conference and field seminar experience.

Essential Functions

Restoration Interns will receive on-the-job training and develop skills in a variety of practices related to the management of natural habitats, including:

  • Stewardship and land management responsibilities in ecological restoration.
  • Brush and weed management by using a wide variety of tools, including: backpack herbicide sprayers, brushcutters and hand tools.
  • Restoration techniques, including plant identification, planting native plugs, seed collection, processing and dispersal, and when applicable, controlled brushpile burns.
  • Ability to test for and obtain IL Herbicide Applicator License, and obtain certifications in Brushcutter, Group Leadership, Managing Invasives, and other ecology-related field courses during the course of the internship.
  • Develop leadership and team-building skills while receiving professional job-skill training.
  • Learn effective collaboration by working alongside Audubon crews and staff, partner restoration staff, volunteers and other conservation partners in the region.
  • Attend educational trainings and events to gain exposure to other conservation organizations and professionals for the purpose of future job placement.
  • Professional and appropriate interaction with members of the public and volunteers carrying out work and visiting the preserves and natural areas.
  • COVID-19 Procedures
  • Conduct activities in compliance with any local, state, and federal orders.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine or weekly testing required.

Qualifications and Experience

  • Must be 18 years or older.
  • Thorough interest in conservation and/or working outdoors.
  • Ability to work Monday-Friday, 40 hours per week, June -October.
  • Willingness to work an extremely flexible schedule that can change daily to hourly, including some weekends, as applicable.
  • Access to a car or other means of transportation to get to and from meet sites, designated work sites and training locations, preferred.
  • Ability to work in inclement weather conditions, withstanding extreme temperatures, heavy mosquito presence and difficult terrain.
  • Ability to work collaboratively as a member of a team.
  • Ability to perform repetitive tasks with attention to detail.
  • Ability to quickly study for and pass the Illinois Herbicide Applicator Exams.
  • Experience with, or ability to quickly learn, safe usage of basic maintenance tools including: hand tools, brushcutters and potentially chainsaws.
  • Ability to lift, carry and move heavy objects up to 50lbs for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to follow instructions and self-guided judgment in decisions, as needed.
  • Recent graduate of an institution of higher learning OR previous experience in habitat restoration preferred, but not required.

EEO Statement

The National Audubon Society is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. We are committed to a policy of nondiscrimination, inclusion and equal opportunity and actively seek a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

Accessibility Statement

The National Audubon Society endeavors to keep our careers site accessible to any and all users.  If you would like to contact us regarding the accessibility of our website or need assistance completing the application process, please contact This contact information is for accommodation requests only and cannot be used to inquire about the status of applications.

COVID Policy

All new hires must be fully vaccinated prior to their start of employment unless they are pre-qualified by HR for exemption.


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