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Water Resources Experiential Learning for USDA Careers

Project Scope

USDA NIFA AWARD No. 2015-38422-24058
Award Title: Water Resources Experiential Learning for USDA Careers
Lead Agency: Cal State San Bernardino University Enterprises Corporation (FF21127)
Award Period: 09/01/15-08/31/19

Must be enrolled as a full-time student at eligible institutions to apply and be considered for this internship opportunity.

Overview of Project with Basic Roles and Responsibilities of the Lead Agency and Collaborating Campuses

This project is limited to full-time students that are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate disciplines at any of the twenty three California State University (CSU) campuses and/or the one hundred thirteen California Community Colleges (CCC).

It is aimed at students in the following primary disciplines and subject matter areas: Water Science/Water Resources, Environmental Sciences/Management, Conservation, Renewable Energy, and Natural Resources including Forestry and Ecology/Wetlands, Biological Sciences including General/Basic Biotechnology, Biochemistry, and Microbiology, Plant Sciences and Horticulture including Turf Sciences, Agricultural/Biological Engineering, Agricultural Social Sciences and Soil Science. These disciplines will prepare students for occupations which the USDA Office of Human Capital Management has identified as Mission Critical, including Forestry Technician, General Biological Scientist, Biological Science Technician, Soil Conservation Specialist, Soil Conservation Technician, Forestry Specialist, Soil Science Specialist and Statistician Specialist. Please note: the project is not exclusive to these disciplines and areas because the USDA employs a variety of college-educated specialists.

The primary objective of this annually renewable 4-year USDA Regional or National Collaboration project that was awarded to CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) is to measurably increase the encouragement, retention, graduation, and USDA career attainment of underrepresented California State University and California Community College students. The project is managed by the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives at Cal State San Bernardino and administered as a Sponsored Program of the University Enterprises Corporation.

The strategic goal of this project is to measurably increase student research skills that ensure our national forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and made more resilient to climate change, while simultaneously enhancing the sustainability of the Nation’s water resources.

This project provides funding for 50 paid Water Resources Internships per year for a total of 200 internships to eligible students over four years. The internships provide an experiential approach to learning in the field of water resources and/or watershed management which helps students gain real-world experience in natural resource protection while developing new knowledge, skills, and abilities in problem-solving from a watershed perspective. The total salary paid to each undergraduate-level Water Resources Internship is $4,500 with students earning a salary of $13.00 per hour for up to 346 total hours. The total salary paid to each graduate-level Water Resources Internship is $4,500 with students earning a salary of $15.00 per hour for up to 300 total hours. The project also provides up to $560 per student for the purchase of approved supplies and materials. No single item may exceed $500, including tax. UEC employees with prior CalPERS membership- Total number of internship hours will be reduced to allocate for CalPERs contributions.

Activities performed by interns during Water Resources Internships are to be related to aspects of natural resource protection as it is carried out by three particular USDA agencies: the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Forest Service (FS). The training provided is aimed at preparing 80% of these 200 participants for USDA natural resource careers within NRCS, ARS and FS, all of whom are seeking graduates from populations currently underrepresented in their workforce. Each student awarded a Water Resources Internship will be required to identify any mandatory courses that are required as a prerequisite to submitting a USDA application and whether the CSU/CCC campus they attend offers the necessary courses. Students attending a CSU/CCC campus that does not offer the courses needed on their home campus will be required to identify where those classes are available, whether that is at another CSU/CCC or a nearby institution, and the date by which the student will complete those classes. Job descriptions for USDA entry-level positions will be placed on the WRPI website which will enable each participating student to select a position of interest and complete the proper academic preparation and work experience.

It is the sole responsibility of each participating CSU/CCC campus, with support provided by WRPI staff, to recruit underrepresented California State University and California Community College students, and submit eligible Applications for Water Resources Internships. To foster the success of this project, internships cannot be held for any CSU/CCC campus that fails to participate. The WRPI will also provide resources to CSU/CCC institutions enabling them to feature this project at on-campus programs aimed at recruiting Hispanic American students to enroll in higher education. Applications submitted outside of the open solicitation dates will be accepted, however these applications will be placed on a wait list until timely applications are reviewed and awarded.
Applications for Water Resources Internships are submitted to and evaluated by the Project Administrative Coordinator, Miranda Moore, and the WRPI Project Director, Dr. Brett Goforth, to ensure that each student, as well as the proposed scope, meets project objectives and represents the demographics of each institution while also complying with requirements of California’s Proposition 209, which amended the state constitution in 1996 to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity in selection decisions.

Applying for Internships

For students that are interested in applying for these internships, we will announce the opening of the application in early November of this year. At this time, the application is open for project submissions. Many project advisors have already determined who their interns will be or will recruit their own interns (if their project is selected for funding.) Once we determine which projects need assistance with intern recruitment, we will post a short description of those projects, the link to the student application, and all relevant forms. The application deadline, requirements, and FAQ will also be emailed to our student interest list and posted to the site. If you are interested in receiving the announcement regarding the application, please email with the following subject line: Please add to USDA/WRPI Student Application Email Notification List. Students will have approximately three weeks to apply for the open internship opportunities.

Liability Release Forms

Getting Paid

Supplies and Transportation

USDA Career Identification Requirement



Employment Resources

Below are sites where you can search for employment opportunities that may be relevant to your career path: – “USAJOBS connects job seekers with federal employment opportunities across the United States and around the world. As the Federal Government’s official employment site, USAJOBS provides resources to help the right people find the right jobs.”

Conservation Job Board – “The world’s largest and most-visited career website in conservation, ecology, forestry, wildlife, and fisheries.”

Environmental Science – “Your career in the environmental science industry starts here. We aim to help those who seek jobs in sustainability and environmental responsibility. Search our database to find green jobs in any state!”

Science Societies Career Center – “The Career Center promotes and encourages opportunities in the agronomic, crop, soil, and environmental sciences and serves as a clearinghouse for resumes and job listings.” (Must be a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America or Soil Science Society of America.)

Careers In Government - “Careers In Government (CIG) is dedicated to matching qualified individuals with challenging and rewarding careers in government and the public sector. Additionally, CIG is a forum for the exchange of news and information of interest to more than 20 million Americans working, or seeking employment, in public sector occupations.”

American Water Works Association “The American Water Works Association is an international, nonprofit, scientific and educational society dedicated to providing total water solutions assuring the effective management of water.”

Water Environment Federation - “Connecting water professionals through events, communities and networks.”

Contact Information

  • Yvette Castellanos, Project Coordinator
    Water Resources Institute, CSU-San Bernardino
    909-537-3688 (office)
  • Dr. Brett Goforth, Project Director
    Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
    California State University, San Bernardino
  • Dr. David Zoldoske, Co-Project Director
    Center for Irrigation Technology
    California State University, Fresno
  • Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Co-Project Director
    Department of Biology
    California State University, San Bernardino