Habitat Restoration Internship Program

2018 Restoration Interns. Photo: Alice Brandon
2018 Restoration Interns. Photo: Alice Brandon

For over a decade, Audubon Great Lakes has trained young adults for careers in conservation through our Audubon Wings Internship program. Annually, Audubon hires, trains, and supervises Restoration Interns, who work on lands managed by the Forest Preserves of Cook County and Chicago Park District, respectively.

The Audubon Habitat Restoration Internship is a 16-20 week program focusing on ecological restoration and land stewardship. Interns are seasonal, full-time (40 hour/week) employees and provided competitive hourly salary. Interns work outside in various extreme weather conditions and must be able to commit to a flexible schedule throughout the program, as weather determines the workday. Previous experience in habitat restoration is not required, but interns are expected to complete necessary trainings and certifications in order to complete assigned projects in the field. During the program, interns will carry-out work orders to remove invasive vegetation, collect and distribute native seeds, plant native plugs, and participate in prescribed burns.

Certifications and Training include:

  • IL Department of Agriculture Herbicide Applicator License
  • National Safety Council First Aid/AED/CPR
  • Brushcutter Use and Maintenance
  • Brushpile Burn Boss & Building
  • Work Day Leader Courses (Group Leadership, Managing Invasives, Practical Herbicide)
  • Native and Invasive Plant, Shrub and Tree Identification
  • If applicable: Chainsaw Feller I and Chicago Wilderness Midwest Ecological Prescribed Burn Certification

The internship also provides professional development and project management skills training, as the interns will attend and participate in educational field seminars, professional conference(s), and workdays with partnering organizations, as well as collect and report field data, and carry out administrative tasks required for the internship program.

The Habitat Restoration Internship Program has a strong network of program alumni with 80% of our interns since 2014 moving into jobs in conservation-related and green fields immediately following their time at Audubon.

Local conservation organizations and companies that have hired Audubon Alumni include:

  • Forest Preserves of Cook County
  • Chicago Park District
  • Lake County Forest Preserves
  • National Park Service
  • Citizens for Conservation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Openlands
  • Friends of the Forest Preserves
  • The Morton Arboretum
  • Pizzo & Associates
  • Stantec Consulting
  • Applied Ecological Services
  • Davey Tree Expert Company
  • McGinty Bros., Inc.

The internships are available through Audubon's Wings internship program and post to the Audubon Career Portal in March. 

For additional information on the Audubon Restoration Internships contact: Daniel Suarez, Conservation Manager for Illinois and Indiana, at

Downloadable Resources

Great Lakes Restoration Efforts

Audubon’s Restoration Internships set birds and interns up for long-term success

Audubon’s Restoration Internships set birds and interns up for long-term success

Celebrating its 15th-year Anniversary, Audubon's Restoration Internships provide crucial job training for emerging professionals and restore crucial habitat for the benefit of birds and people.

Read more

More Than 100 Acres of Wetlands to be Restored on Southeast Side of Chicago
Coastal Wetlands

Restoring Habitat at Powderhorn Lake Forest Preserve

Connecting two lakes to reestablish more than 100 acres of vital marsh habitat that marsh birds rely on.

Read more

Ways You Can Help