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REEF Marine Conservation Internship
REEF is a non-profit marine conservation organization with citizen science, education, and research programs. Marine Conservation Internship program participants support REEF’s educational programming and general operations from the Key Largo, Florida REEF Campus. The REEF Campus, with an Interpretive Center classroom, serves as an educational center for visitors and groups. It is also the Headquarters for supporting a membership of over 80,000 individuals engaging in REEF’s international programs.
REEF Marine Conservation Interns gain leadership experience as they engage in activities focused on citizen science, community outreach, and education. They learn various skills, including partnership development, non-profit operations, informal educational teaching, donor relations, communication, marketing and promotions, event planning, graphic design, and public speaking. They also have ample opportunities to enjoy all the Florida Keys offers in their free time, including diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and interfacing with other non-profits and government agencies.
REEF Interns support the organization’s innovative marine conservation and education projects, working as part of a dynamic and fun team in the beautiful Florida Keys. Interns have varied opportunities to be involved in the office and the field, supporting REEF’s marine conservation research, education, and outreach programs. REEF Interns play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of REEF and gain valuable insight into the workings of a marine conservation non-profit. Interns work closely with all REEF team members, both in-person and remote-based. Ideal candidates for the internship program are passionate about marine conservation, detail-oriented, organized, thrive on variety, and take initiative.
This program is open to college students with at least two years of coursework and recent graduates. Internship sessions typically run from January-May, May-August, and August-December. Start and end dates are flexible depending on University schedules and other school or work commitments. REEF’s Marine Conservation Fellowship program provides qualified Marine Conservation Interns the opportunity to stay with the organization in a specialized capacity for up to a year beyond the original session.
Marine Conservation Intern Responsibilities and Opportunities
Program activities and tasks vary by internship session depending on the organization’s current projects and priorities. Responsibilities include, but may not be limited to:
- Engaging with and assisting REEF members, volunteers, and donors over the phone, via email, and in-person
- Assisting REEF Campus visitors, including answering questions about REEF’s programs and processing in-person purchases from the REEF store
- Filling and mailing online store orders, and packaging citizen science materials for volunteers
- Conducting educational programming, including Ocean Explorers Discovery Programs (classroom & field programs), Virtual Field Trips, and educational sessions with local schools (elementary-high school)
- Coordinating and implementing special events like the monthly Fish & Friends seminar series, annual REEF Fest celebration, and Lionfish Derby Series/Lionfish-related events (Lionfish Jewelry Workshops)
- Creating promotional and marketing materials such as flyers and social media content
- Updating web content and social media platforms
- Facilitating invasive lionfish education, outreach, and control programs
- Participating in conservation fieldwork and data management (varies by semester)
Interns can sometimes implement independent projects related to their areas of interest at REEF. For example, a graphic design major could create new infographic posters, or an education major could create fish identification lesson plans for elementary school classrooms. Interns are provided professional development and networking opportunities and can interact with various other organizations and agencies throughout the Florida Keys and South Florida region. Depending on the Intern's interest and training, there are frequent opportunities to dive, snorkel, and kayak in the area.
The Marine Conservation Internship is intended for students currently enrolled in or recently graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program or with equivalent work experience. At least two years of college coursework is preferred. Proficiency with desktop computers and office software and excellent written and oral communication skills are preferred. A highly positive attitude and aptitude for working as a self-starter in a fast-paced, non-profit organization is necessary. Successful applicants are detail-oriented with strong organizational skills and can work in a diverse and collaborative team across multiple disciplines. A strong interest in ocean life, marine conservation, citizen science, and diving or snorkeling is a plus. Participants from disciplines outside marine science are also encouraged to apply. The Internship Program is open to applicants in the US and abroad, but international applicants need to secure the necessary travel documents. The applicant must do this, and REEF does not assist with this unless required.
Due to limited public transportation options in Key Largo, interns must have reliable vehicular transportation during their internship. Although not required, interns who plan to scuba dive are highly recommended to have their own dive gear. Diving and snorkeling during free time is a program benefit and not an internship requirement.
Program Term, Compensation, Work Environment
The Marine Conservation Internship Program is a 40-hour-per-week commitment and includes weekend and evening activities. Interns are encouraged to dive/snorkel/kayak (often discounted or free of charge, thanks to support from REEF’s Conservation Partners) and volunteer in the community. Madalyn Mussey, Education & Outreach Program Manager, and David Ehlert, REEF Campus Coordinator, supervise the REEF Internship Program. The Marine Conservation Internship program is based at REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida.
Some of the benefits of the REEF Marine Conservation Internship include:
- Network with leaders in marine science, SCUBA diving/snorkeling, underwater photography, and conservation
- Exposure to various non-profit educational and environmental organizations
- Experience in Florida and Caribbean fish identification and field methodology
- Educate & inspire individuals and visiting groups about the marine environment
- Contribute to a high-performing team of marine professionals
- Build a diverse skill set by working on a diverse range of projects
- Develop skills and gain first-hand experience to leverage in the early stages of your career as an environmental leader
- Receive college credit, if appropriate
- Letters of recommendation provided by request upon successful completion of the internship
- Opportunity to receive training certifications from local dive shops and instructors, where applicable
- Make long-lasting friendships with like-minded individuals
- Live in the beautiful, sunny Florida Keys, where the ocean is your backyard
- Opportunities to dive, snorkel, kayak, and volunteer in the Florida Keys
REEF provides shared housing in a furnished house during the internship in addition to a $200 monthly stipend.
Typical Activities of REEF Marine Conservation Interns
Supporting Non-profit Operations: The internship involves day-to-day support of business functions and member relations. Typical tasks include answering the phone, responding to emails, developing promotional and marketing materials, shipping out store orders, packaging citizen science materials for volunteers, assisting staff program leads on projects, and coordinating with partners and the public. There is never a dull day in the office!
Community Events & Outreach: Interns represent REEF and increase the public's awareness about marine conservation and ocean ecosystems at community events. Interns set up interactive displays and talk with the public at local art walks, music festivals, state park events, science nights, career days, non-profit events, and more throughout the Florida Keys and South Florida. REEF interns also have the opportunity to create and facilitate events that align with REEF's mission as a personal project. Past intern-led events include trivia night, movie night, lionfish jewelry workshops, Earth Day event, sustainability night, marine debris cleanup, and native tree planting event.
Education Programs: Interns can engage with the public by giving presentations on fish identification, marine ecology, endangered species, and invasive lionfish. Audiences include adults and elementary, high school, and college students. REEF Interns build confidence and gain public speaking skills throughout the semester. REEF interns also have the opportunity to develop educational content and program materials used for the Ocean Explorers Programs.
Data Collection and Management: Some interns assist in REEF's ongoing lionfish and invasive/exotic monitoring projects in South Florida. Duties may include recording invasive/exotic species sightings, conducting fish population surveys, lionfish collection and removal, and lionfish dissections. **This varies by semester and may not be available to every intern group.
Assisting with Lionfish Derbies & Programming: Interns help organize and implement REEF's Lionfish Derby Series, hosted annually throughout Florida. Intern responsibilities at Derbies include registering teams, measuring lionfish, filleting lionfish, dissecting lionfish, and educating the public. This varies by semester and may not be available to every intern group. Other Lionfish Programming includes Collecting & Handling Workshops, Lionfish Jewelry Making Workshops, and Lionfish Education Programs.
**The internship presents many volunteer opportunities for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and working with partner organizations. All offsite volunteer activities are completely voluntary and conducted during the Intern’s free time and at their own risk. REEF supports these volunteer opportunities by making introductions to partners and providing time off on weekdays for Interns to volunteer. Many local dive shops offer diving at no cost to Marine Conservation Internship Program participants. Some dive operators will offer dive certification at reduced costs. All volunteer activities, including diving, are not a requirement or responsibility of the Marine Conservation Internship program.
Candidates will be notified shortly after the semester application deadline for which they apply.
David Ehlert, Campus Coordinator
PO Box 370246
Key Largo, FL 33037
Madalyn Mussey, Education & Outreach Program Manager
PO Box 370246
Key Largo, FL 33037