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Future Park Leaders Program:

The FPL program provides paid summer internships to highly accomplished undergraduate and graduate students to work on emerging management issues driven by global drivers of change and related effects in national parks. The internship projects may occur in national parks or program offices and are designed by National Park Service (NPS) staff to meet high-priority needs of parks and programs. General topic areas include resource protection; supporting science; adaptation actions; policy and planning; sustainable operations; and communication, interpretation, or education.

Previous interns have worked on a wide range of projects, including developing new interpretive programs in urban parks, monitoring glacier mass balance, developing management plans that anticipate new wildfire regimes, organizing a workshop on preservation of historic buildings, and creating high-quality videos about climate change impacts on parks.

The FPL internship positions offer students:

  • Full-time work (40 hours/week) for 12 weeks
  • Project experience during your summer break
  • Pay $16/hour
  • Free or subsidized housing (in most cases, but not all)
  • Employment with the ESA
  • Mentoring by a NPS supervisor and national program manager
  • Professional development through an all expense-paid workshop at the end of the summer
  • Networking opportunities with NPS and DOI leaders
  • Development of practical skills like searching for federal jobs
  • Ability to earn a Direct Hire Authority upon successful completio

Professional development is a key attribute of the FPL. Applicants interested must be prepared to participate in rigorous and challenging projects that demand high-level academic knowledge and skills with considerable autonomy and leadership under an effective mentor.

Direct Hire Authority

The FPL operates under the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Direct Hire Authority (DHA), which means that students who excel in their internships and then subsequently complete their undergraduate or graduate degree requirements are eligible to be hired without competition into NPS, FWS, BLM, USBR, or BIA jobs for which they are qualified. Non-competitive hiring status for a FPL intern remains in effect for two years following graduation.  While the DHA enables NPS to hire highly qualified and experienced candidates into open positions efficiently, the FPL program is not a guarantee that positions appropriate to any given intern will be available in the near future.


Only U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals are eligible for FPL internship positions.

Eligible applicants must be graduate or upper-level undergraduate students. Applicants are eligible under any of the following circumstances:

  • Applicant has reached at least junior level status in a degree-seeking undergraduate program by the close of the of application period (by January 24, 2020).
  • Applicant is currently enrolled in a degree-seeking graduate program for the duration of the internship project (may not graduate earlier than the last day of the project).
  • Applicant is not currently enrolled but plans to attend graduate school beginning fall 2020*.

    *If you are applying to graduate school for the fall 2020 semester, please provide proof of application in the form of a confirmation from the institution to which your application was submitted. In the event that you are selected for an internship, proof of enrollment into a graduate program will be required before the internship is awarded.

    Please read the 2020 project descriptions for details and required qualifications. Note some internship projects may limit the applicants to graduate students only.

    The Ecological Society of America is an equal opportunity employer. Underrepresented minority, low income, first generation college and veteran students are strongly encouraged to apply.

    Want to Learn More?

    Wednesday, December 18, 2019 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST

    Join FPL program managers Melanie Wood, National Park Service, and Jessica Johnston, Ecological Society of America, for a one-hour informational webinar. The webinar will feature an interview with current NPS employee and former 2017 FPL intern, Ivan Bermejo, to discuss the application process, share personal experiences, and lasting benefits of the program. We will wrap up the webinar with a live chat session for students to ask questions regarding the internship program.

    Click here for webinar sign up

    Click here to check out the available internships

    Submit your application

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