Wilderness Ranger Internship Program

Since 2015, the IPWA has funded and managed a summer Wilderness Ranger Internship program in partnership with the USFS Boulder Ranger District.

The Wilderness Ranger Internship is a field based training program for undergraduate students planning to pursue careers in natural resource related fields. 

Apply for an opportunity to experience the IP/JP Wilderness firsthand! (See instructions and deadlines below).

2016 Interns Zoe Briggs and Alex Clinton
2016 Interns Zoe Briggs and Alex Clinton

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2017 Interns John Kurtz and Jake Michelo
2017 Interns John Kurtz and Jake Michelo

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Interns at St Vrain
Interns at St Vrain

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2016 Interns Zoe Briggs and Alex Clinton
2016 Interns Zoe Briggs and Alex Clinton

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Internship Summary:

The Boulder Ranger District is recruiting applicants for two (2) Wilderness Ranger Internship positions for the 2020 summer season. General duties include conducting Ranger patrols, user education, and conducting trail maintenance in the Indian Peaks and James Peak Wilderness  areas. 

Ideal applicants will have experience hiking and camping in the outdoors, are passionate about
the stewardship of wild lands, and are interested in a career in natural resource management.
Interns will receive training and education in Wilderness management from an interdisciplinary,
field-base perspective. This Forest Service position is sponsored by the Indian Peaks
Wilderness Alliance and includes a $1500 stipend and Forest Service Bunkhouse/Tent
accommodations for a 10 week commitment

Internship Requirements:​​
  • Must be enrolled as an undergraduate in a natural resources related field at an accredited two or four-year college/university or have recently graduated within the last two years. In-state candidates preferred. (Must be enrolled in an internship course in order to receive credit. The IPWA will work with colleges or universities to facilitate course credit by providing all necessary coordination, documentation, and evaluation for the internship course.) 

  • Must be able to handle physically demanding work including hiking 5-15 miles per day, carrying a 40 lbs. pack and using tools, with numerous overnight backpacking trips expected.

  • Must be comfortable working at high elevations (7,500 ft - over 13,000 ft). Plan for exposure to high elevations with frequent thunder and lightning storms, possible snow, rain, wind and hail. Temperatures ranging from over 90°F to below freezing at times. 

  • Must be able to work on a team and work with minimal supervision. Must complete field reports and data, and attend weekly meet ups. 

  • Motivation and willingness to work within non-traditional hours, including weekends and limited holidays (during peak wilderness visitation).

  • Also desired: Good oral and written communication skills, computer proficiency, GPS and photo/video editing skills, and Wilderness First Aid and CPR.

Dates, Duration and Training:
  • 10 weeks from Wednesday June 3rd - Wednesday August 19th 2020.

  • Shifts are four 10-hour days from Thursday-Sunday most weeks, including holidays.

  • Attendance is mandatory for the all-day IPWA Summer Training, tentatively scheduled for Saturday June 6th 2020 at the USFS Boulder Ranger District Office. 

  • Cross Cut Saw Training and CPR/Advanced Wilderness First Aid Training may also be provided.

Transportation, Housing and Gear:
  • Must have a reliable personal vehicle to reach various USFS field and office locations (high-clearance recommended). Carpooling with fellow interns is encouraged.

  • Housing is provided at the USFS bunkhouse in Nederland, CO. Interns are expected to cover their own food expenses. 

  • Ranger gear provided includes khaki ranger shirt, rain jacket, hat, tools and safety gear, two-way radio and spot emergency beacon device. Additional personal backpacking gear required for this position includes a good sleeping bag, backpack, tent and sturdy hiking boots. Stoves, water filters and other group gear is also recommended but may be provided if needed.

Ranger Intern Duties:

Ranger interns work with U.S. Forest Service staff and volunteers to complete tasks assigned by the District including approximately 60% patrol duties, 20% trail maintenance duties, and 20% program duties. Tasks include:

  • Conduct hiking and backpacking patrols on popular trails to remote wilderness settings 

  • Inform and educate wilderness visitors on wilderness ethics and regulations

  • Conduct natural & social resource counts and enter field reports and data

  • Collect data to document Wilderness Character and inform management decisions

  • Participate in community outreach projects for "wilderness awareness"

  • Conduct trail and campsite maintenance using traditional tools

  • Manage invasive species treatment and removal

  • Wilderness readings and discussions

  • Final oral and video presentation of internship work

How to Apply:

Send a resume and cover letter including a summary of your qualifications with the answers to these questions:

  1. Why do you want to intern with the Wilderness Program at the Boulder Ranger District?

  2. Describe your experience working and sleeping at higher elevation (above 8000 ft.)?

Email your application to hikers@indianpeakswilderness.orgThe application period opens in February and the deadline for the summer 2020 season is March 15th, 2020. Selected applicants will be contacted by the IPWA internship coordinator to schedule an interview, with announcements expected in April. 

Past Internship Videos:

2019 IPWA Internship Presentation

Note the video posted to YouTube does not have music, full version below:

"Those of us who believe (in wilderness) must be willing to fight vehemently in its interest, rise to that necessary standard of responsibility, and demand others to do the same. I am very grateful for the chance I got to learn these things. … It is nice to know that there is a community of people dedicated to protecting our land… I encourage anyone in the future who has the opportunity that I had to take it, and for students of the environment to keep getting out into the woods to defend our planet for generations to come." -  Eliot Levey (Class of 2015, read his full report here)