Wilderness Internships

Since we welcomed our first Intern in 2012, our Wilderness Internship program has been the most successful program that the ABWF offers. We have hired a total of 22 Interns to do their 12-weeks of service in the A-B Wilderness, doing everything from trail building & maintenance, to pulling and spraying invasive weeds, to adding logistical support & leadership on our volunteer trail projects, to teaching young kids about Leave No Trace and other wilderness values, to collecting data as members of a number of citizen science outings, doing restoration work on the Froze-to-Death Plateau, and assisting the Wilderness rangers on their roving patrols. The Wilderness Internship has become a cornerstone of our stewardship efforts in the A-B Wilderness!

Our 2017 summer interns and 2017’s trail crew leader. © by David Kallenbach

Each summer we hire 2-3 college-aged people for 12 weeks who are interested in the conservation of wild lands. Typically we have hired our volunteers through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) or the Montana Conservation Corps (MCC). Both organizations have an excellent record providing high quality prospects for the kind of work that we do. If you’re looking to apply to an internship with the ABWF, read on, but be sure to go to the SCA Website.

Recently we hired our first Winter Intern to help us bring outdoor, wilderness education programming to school groups and invite them onto the Forest for excellent outdoor educational opportunities.

When we hire we are especially looking for the following skills and experiences on the application, and on the resume you attach:

  • You already have some experience backpacking for multiple days in a backcountry setting. You would preferably have a solid degree of self-sufficiency and comfort back-packing, own your own gear, know what to bring, how to pack your backpack, preparing your own meals in a backcountry setting, good navigational skills with map, compass, and GPS, & comfort camping on your own. This position is probably NOT right for you, if you are a first or second time backpacker.
  • You should be strong, tenacious, and physically fit in order to work 8 days in a row doing physically strenuous work at altitude (6000 to 10,000 feet) and hiking up to 10-15 miles in a day. Your application should show some measure of your fitness for working in a rugged and remote mountain environment. The A-B Wilderness will be one of the most rugged and challenging mountain settings most of you will have ever encountered.
  • Some experience volunteering in the past, preferably with previous exposure to doing trailwork or other outdoor endeavors.
  • Some skills in teaching others, i.e. working as a camp counselor, hike leader, tutor, outdoor educator, etc.
  • Good public speaking skills and an outgoing demeanor, as you may be teaching, talking to wilderness users and contacting people you meet on the trail.
  • A passion for public lands and spending time in them: i.e. Wilderness Areas, National Parks & Monuments, National Forests, and BLM lands.
  • Some scholastic background/interest in the natural sciences—geology, biology, geography, naturalist, conservation.

Our interns get excellent training (much of it directly from the Forest Service). Interns work alongside seasonal staff for the Forest Service and get a strong foot in the door by doing this challenging work. Some of our interns have gone on to earn paid positions as trail crew and backcountry rangers with the Forest Service. It’s hard work, the stipend is not large, but the rewards are very high!

Interns Bry Angood-Hardy & Bryce Howe help install a turnpike © David Kallenbach