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Navajo Native Plants Intern

Start/End Date: November 1st 2017-August 31st 2018
Salary: $12/hour and per diem reimbursement for travel
Reports to: Nora Talkington, Navajo Natural Heritage Program Botanist
Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Summary: The Navajo Natural Heritage Program is the sub-department with the Navajo Department of Fish and Wildlife which is responsible for tracking, managing, and conserving endangered and vulnerable plant and wildlife species on the Navajo Endangered Species List. As part of an initiative to take an active role in restoring wildlife habitat, we are in the initial stages of planning a Navajo Native Plants Program. This program would focus on collecting, banking, and propagating plant species important to ecological diversity, restoration, and culture, and is the result of a partnership between Navajo Fish and Wildlife and the Navajo Forestry Department in Fort Defiance, AZ. Our  goal is to start a native seed banking program, and to use collected seed to grow genetically-appropriate restoration, rare, and culturally-important plants. This effort would provide native plant materials for riparian, reclamation, and upland restoration projects as well as provide employment for Navajo community members and public access to culturally-important plants.
Navajo Fish and Wildlife is hiring 2 interns to help identify current and future gaps in native plant needs and availability on Navajo, gauge community interest in increasing the availability of culturally-important plants, communicate with tribal agencies involved in plant restoration, and participate in important occupational training such as seed collection, plant identification, and horticultural techniques. Our hope is that Navajo Native Plants interns will remain beyond the internship period as Fish and Wildlife employees to manage greenhouse operations in Fort Defiance as part of the Navajo Native Plants Program (contingent on future funding).

Essential Responsibilities and Functions: Interns will be based out of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ and will work closely with the NNHP botanist. Duties will vary by season:
November-March: 1) Conduct needs assessment survey targeting Navajo agencies involved in ecological restoration to get a baseline understanding of native plant needs for buyers on Navajo. 2) Conduct community outreach at 15 chapters throughout the nation to gauge interest in a native plants program. 3) Compile survey results into a report that will be used to guide future decisions about the
scope and direction of a native plants program.
January: Spend 2 weeks in the Navajo Nation Herbarium learning plant identification, specimen mounting, and curation techniques.

April-July: Complete a 15 week-long assistantship at the Arboretum in Flagstaff developing skills in plant cultivation, nursery management, and public outreach.
May: Complete a Wilderness First Aid course at the Flagstaff Field Institute and BLM’s Seeds of Success training in Boise, ID.
July-August: Assist the NNHP botanist with rare plant monitoring and seed collecting across the Navajo Nation.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Valid driver’s license.
  • Some college coursework in botany, biology, horticulture, ecology, environmental sciences, wildlife, indigenous studies, or related field.
  • Strong interest in studying, identifying, and growing native plants of the Navajo Nation.
  • Ability to work independently and with others.
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills. Ability to stay on-task.
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Powerpoint, Excel, and Word. Ability to synthesize survey results into a formal report with some oversight.
  • Preferred Qualifications:
  • Bachelor’s degree in botany, biology, horticulture, ecology, environmental sciences, wildlife, indigenous studies, or related field.
  • Member of the Navajo Nation or other federally-recognized tribe.
  • Familiarity with Arizona flora and/ or horticultural techniques for growing native plants.
  • Familiarity giving presentations to 30+ people.
  • Excellent writing skills and experience writing formal reports.
  • Positive attitude and strong work ethic.
  • Willingness to run day-to-day greenhouse operations as nursery manager for the Navajo
  • Native Plants Program in Fort Defiance, AZ post-internship (contingent on funding).

Physical Requirements: Work will occur in office, greenhouse, and field settings. Field work may involve rigorous 10-day work days and car camping in remote conditions with exposure to hot, cold, windy, or inclement weather. Must be able to stand for long periods of time, hike up to 5+ miles each day, and lift up to 50 lbs. Field work often will involve being away from Flagstaff for 2-5 days at a time in remote areas with limited cell phone service.

To Apply: Submit resume, two references, and unofficial transcripts to Nora Talkington: Position open until filled.