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  • Piping Plover Monitor Intern

    Michigan Audubon
    • Employer: Michigan Audubon
      Location: Paradise, MI
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 04/01/2023
      Open Until Filled: No

    Position: Piping Plover Monitor Intern 

    Employer: Michigan Audubon
    Classification: Temporary/Seasonal (Summer): May 10 – August 9, 2023.
    Exact start and end dates can be flexible.

    Compensation: $15/hr, paid bi-weekly.
    Dorm-style field housing two miles from the field site is provided. 

    Location: Whitefish Point, Paradise, Michigan, US



    The Piping Plover Monitor Intern works to implement species-specific monitoring, habitat enhancement, mapping, and protection, as well as education and outreach activities at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO). The Monitor’s responsibilities include tasks that benefit three property owners at Whitefish Point, including Seney National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS), the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS), and Michigan Audubon (including its onsite program, Whitefish Point Bird Observatory). These three agencies collaboratively manage the land to best protect the ecological, historical, and cultural significance of Whitefish Point according to the 2002 Human Use and Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point. It is in the spirit of this collaborative outreach and conservation work, as well as a demonstrated need for public outreach and education opportunities for students, that this internship was formed. 

    Michigan Audubon oversees and supports the Intern and works in concert with USFWS to best manage and support the breeding Piping Plovers of Whitefish Point. The overall activities and duties of this internship are determined by habitat and breeding season needs of the Great Lakes Piping Plovers. 

    Essential Functions

    Piping Plover Monitoring (60%) 

    PIPL monitoring duties include but are not limited to censusing nesting birds, monitoring productivity from egg laying to fledging, erecting predator exclosures, posting and maintaining symbolic fencing, re-sighting and recording band codes, assisting with tidal marsh bird monitoring, and daily data entry. 

    Work with staff to ensure proper and timely installation, maintenance, and removal of protective (“predator”) barriers around the Piping Plover’s nesting areas at both the beginning and end of the monitoring season.

    Assist with the ongoing protection of potential and confirmed breeding/nesting areas for the PIPL at Whitefish Point.

    Maintain a daily presence at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, adhering to a Tuesday-through-Saturday work schedule of monitoring and education/outreach work.


    Education, Outreach, & Interpretation (30%)

    Interact with the public to provide information and answer questions as necessary. Communicate beach rules and regulations to beachgoers at Whitefish Point in a polite and professional manner.

    Serve as a primary contact for the visiting public to answer questions about Piping Plovers at Whitefish Point.

    Represent and promote the respective missions of the USFWS, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, and Michigan Audubon/Whitefish Point Bird Observatory.

    Assist in education projects at The Owl’s Roost store at WPBO, including the enhancement of education space and presentation preparations for visitors related to habitat and shorebirds of WPBO.

    Assist the Conservation Program Coordinator with data entry and data administration, which may include compiling, organizing, analyzing, and/or summarizing WPBO-specific avian monitoring efforts.

    Write and submit a one-page popularized article about Piping Plovers at Whitefish Point for publication in the Michigan Audubon newsletter, the Jack Pine Warbler, by September 1, 2021. 

    Write and submit a final report for the Piping Plover monitoring season to Michigan Audubon by August 15, 2021. 


    Habitat Restoration Support (10%)

    The Monitor may assist with habitat restoration on and around the Point through the planting of dune grass and/or Jack Pine as directed by the Habitat Subcommittee of the Joint Committee of Whitefish Point. 

    Other habitat restoration duties as assigned.

    Performance Expectations

    Work flexible hours (sunrise-sunset) an average of six days per week, including some weekends and holidays as required. 

    Monitors must be able to work in varied climatic conditions (harsh sunlight to rain, firm to unstable footing (sand, shallow to hip-deep water, etc.), exposure to high temperatures/humidity, biting insects), carry moderate loads (30–50 lbs) over long distances, and use hand tools to dig/pull vegetation. 

    Ensure that all activities abide by the provisions required by all relevant permits, including the Research and Monitoring Special Use Permits provided by Seney National Wildlife Refuge.

    Maintain organized records and notes with attention to detail, accurately collecting data, and recording field notes. 

    Maintain regular communication with the PIPL conservation team, supervisors at Michigan Audubon, and the Joint Committee of Whitefish Point. 

    Perform with a minimum of supervision and work cooperatively with a wide range of people.

    Serve as a professional, courteous, communicative, and exemplary ambassador for Michigan Audubon and its mission, “Connecting birds and people for the benefit of both through conservation, education, and research efforts in the state of Michigan.”

    Attend a 1-day USFWS-sponsored Piping Plover monitoring training in early May. 

    The ideal candidate will be able to work independently with minimal daily supervision. Candidates who are outgoing, personable, and willing to engage the curious public will excel in the position. Priority will be given to applicants with a demonstrated knowledge of Great Lakes natural history, basic proficiency in Great Lakes native plant and bird ID, and some experience using a consumer-level, handheld GPS unit. Additional preferred qualifications include:

    Completion of, at minimum, three years toward an undergraduate degree in environmental studies, biology, wildlife management, or a related field. A bachelor’s degree is preferred. 

    Ability to live for up to four months at a remote site in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in rustic conditions, and occasionally enduring harsh weather conditions (wind, rain, cold temperatures), as well as biting insects.

    Willingness to be flexible, engaging, and upbeat while helping to advance the work of Whitefish Point Bird Observatory and its partners in bird conservation and habitat protection.

    Prior experience with bird banding (mist net extraction, banding) and nest searching is not required but is advantageous.

    Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as demonstrated ability to receive direction and supervision from remote staff.

    How to Apply
    Qualified candidates are invited to email their application in a single PDF attachment to kmennillo@michiganaudubon.org with the subject line “2023 PIPL Monitor Application”. Please include a cover letter, resume, and three professional references or letters of recommendation in your application. Applications will be accepted until April 1, 2023, or until the position is filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

    Michigan Audubon values qualifications, diversity, inclusion, and competence. As an equal opportunity employer, Michigan Audubon is committed to ensuring the employees and applicants for employment have equal opportunities.

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