Conservation Intern Program FAQs

If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please contact the Conservation Intern Program Manager, Mandy Hedstrom, at mandy@mtcorps.org or 406.587.4475 x121. 

  • What do Conservation Interns do?
    • Each internship is a unique opportunity for professional development and hands-on training. Our interns serve on a variety of projects including GPS and GIS projects, river ranger patrols, wildlife inventory, data analysis, public outreach and education, trails projects, research, and invasive weeds management. The specific job that a Conservation Intern will do depends on the host site that they are partnered with. Host sites include a variety of federal, state, and nonprofit agencies. 

  • What are some past host sites and Conservation Intern projects?
    • -Kootenai National Forest: Trail Steward for the Pacific North West National Scenic Trail (trail maintenance, campsite inventory, GPS water sources, education and outreach)
      -Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center: Interpretive Intern (guest services and educational programming exclusively in the interpretive center)
      -Flathead National Forest: Wild & Scenic River Intern (river patrols, data collection, site maintenance, education and outreach) 

      Please note that these are just a few examples of past host sites, not a complete list of current host sites and projects. 

  • Where are host sites located?
    • Host sites are located all over the state of Montana and neighboring states, in both urban and rural communities. A few locations from previous years are listed below. 

      -Billings, MT
      -Bozeman, MT
      -Jackson, WY
      -Fort Smith, MT
      -Belle Fouche, SD
      -Libby, MT
      -Fort Benton, MT
      -Darby, MT 

  • Do I get to pick my host site or location?
    • No.  The MCC Program Manager will decide the best location to balance your interests and skills with the needs of the host sites. 

  • Will I always be working outdoors?
    • The amount of time that you spend outdoors will depend on the host site that you are placed with. Some internships are mostly outside doing physical labor, while others are mostly indoors doing education and outreach. Please be prepared for both types of internship placements. 

  • Do I need a vehicle?
    • Yes, a vehicle is required of all Conservation Interns. This vehicle will be used to travel to MCC Orientation and Graduation, and to and from your summer housing and your internship location. 

  • Am I responsible for finding and paying for my own housing?
    • This will depend on the host site that you are placed with. Some host sites will provide shared housing at no cost to the intern, while other host sites do not have the ability to provide housing. Host site supervisors and MCC staff will try to help members find housing if needed. 

  • How much camping will I do?
    • Only a handful of our internships require overnight camping (hitches). Most of our placements do not require that interns participate in hitches. Of course, you are welcome to camp as much as you would like on your days off! 

  • Will I work with other interns?
    • It depends. Some of our host sites request more than one intern, while others only request one. 

  • Will I receive any training before I start?
    • Yes. All members receive training at MCC Orientation, as well as job specific training at their host sites.

  • Will MCC help with travel costs?
    • Yes. All Conservation Interns will receive a $250 travel stipend to help with travel costs to and from their host sites. This stipend will be added to the first and last paycheck ($125 each) and therefore is taxable. 

  • Can I get college credit?
    • MCC has not partnered with a specific college/university that will allow you to receive college credit automatically for this internship. Some past Conservation Interns were able to get credit through their institutions or fulfill internship requirements for their academic program. Please visit with your college/university academic advisor to explore these possibilities. 

  • My fall class schedule starts before the internship ends. Can I leave early?
    • No. In order to successfully complete the program, you must be available to start and end on the advertised dates. 

  • What are the physical demands of the program?
    • The physical demands vary widely depending on the host site. The common physical demands of our Conservation Intern program are listed below. Please know that not all internship placements will have these physical demands. Contact the MCC Program Manager for specific information on each host site.

      Work at high altitudes—You may be put in a location that is much higher above sea level than where you call home.  The thinner air coupled with physical activity can lead to  breathing difficulty, especially for those with a history of asthma. 

      Work in all weather conditions—The weather in Montana can be unpredictable. Throughout the internship timeframe, you can expect both snow and severe heat throughout the state. Adequate gear and a positive mental attitude are necessities for successful completion.  Summer brings wildfires to the state and the smoke is often a lingering factor that can also create difficulty breathing.

      Repetitive Motion—Some internships require swinging a tool into the ground repeatedly to dig trail tread or using loppers or a hand saw to clear brush from the trail corridor. Both require the use of muscles which are not necessarily taxed heavily in other life or work situations.  The results of this sometimes include muscle sprains or strains, including carpal tunnel injuries. 

      Heavy Lifting—Some internships require a variety of heavy lifting, including the backpack which may be a daily component of the gear you carry. Hauling large-diameter logs off trails, carrying lumber for trail features or fence braces and removing large rocks from trails are all common experiences.  Backs and knees take a beating, even when using proper lifting techniques.  Some of MCC’s most common injuries occur through underestimating the impact this task makes.

      Extended hiking(with and without weight)—Some interns engage in projects which are miles from their campsite, or the project itself may simply be hiking the length of the trail over a period of days in order to remove blown-down trees and debris from the trail.  These projects tend to exacerbate knee, back and foot aches.