REEF is a non-profit, marine conservation organization with citizen science, education, and research programs. Participants in the Marine Conservation Internship program support REEF’s educational programming and general operations from the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida. The REEF Campus, with an Interpretive Center and educational trails, serves as an educational center for visitors and groups. It is also the Headquarters for supporting a membership of over 70,000 engaging in REEF’s international programs.
REEF Marine Conservation Interns gain leadership experience as they engage in activities focused on citizen science, community outreach, and education. They learn skills in a variety of areas, including partnership development, non-profit operations, donor relations, communication, marketing and promotions, data management, event planning, graphic design, and public speaking. And they have ample opportunities to enjoy all that the Florida Keys has to offer in their free time, including diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and interfacing with other non-profits and government agencies in the area.
REEF Interns support the organization’s innovative marine conservation and education projects, working as part of a dynamic and fun team in the beautiful Florida Keys. Interns have varied opportunities to be involved in both the office and the field, and support REEF’s marine conservation research, education, and outreach programs. REEF Interns play a key role in the day-to-day operations of REEF, and gain valuable insight in to the workings of a non-profit ocean organization. Interns work closely with all REEF team members. Ideal candidates for the internship program are passionate about the ocean, and are detail-oriented, organized, thrive on variety, and take initiative.
This unpaid program is open to college students with at least 2 years of coursework, as well as recent graduates. Four interns serve in each session (January – May and June – December). An intensive summer internship (June – August) is also sometimes available. Start and end dates are flexible depending on University schedules and other school or work commitments. REEF’s Lead Internship program provides qualified Marine Conservation Interns the opportunity to stay with the organization in a specialized capacity for up to a year beyond the original session.
Marine Conservation Intern Responsibilities and Opportunities
Program activities and tasks vary by internship session depending on the organization’s current projects and priorities. Responsibilities include, but may not be limited to:
- Engaging with and assisting REEF members and donors, on the phone and via email, as well as in person at events
- Assisting REEF Campus visitors, including answering questions about REEF’s programs and processing in-person purchases from the REEF store
- Filling and mailing online store orders
- Facilitating educational programing, including Explorers Summer Camp, Classroom Programs, and Field Courses
- Coordinating and implementing special events like the monthly Fish & Friends seminar series, annual REEF Fest celebration, and Lionfish Derby Series
- Creating promotional and marketing materials such as flyers and social media content
- Updating web content and social media platforms
- Facilitating invasive lionfish education, outreach, and control programs
- Participating in conservation field work and data management
Interns are sometimes able to implement independent projects at REEF related to their areas of interest. For example, a graphic design major could create new infographic posters or an education major could create fish identification lesson plans for elementary school classrooms. Interns are provided professional development and networking opportunities, and are able to interact with a variety of other organizations and agencies throughout the Florida Keys and South Florida region. There are also frequent opportunities to dive, snorkel, and kayak in the region, depending on the Intern’s interest and training.
The Marine Conservation Internship is intended for students currently enrolled in or that have recently graduated from an undergraduate or graduate program, or who have equivalent work experience. At least two years of college coursework is preferred. Proficiency with desktop computers and office software, as well as excellent written and oral communication skills are preferred. Highly positive attitude and aptitude for working as a self-starter in a fast-paced, non-profit organization is a must. Successful applicants will need to be detail-orientated with strong organizational skills, and be able to work in a diverse and collaborate team across multiple disciplines. A strong interest in ocean life, marine conservation, citizen science, and diving is a plus. Participants from disciplines outside marine science are also encouraged to apply. The Internship Program is open to applicants in the US and abroad, but international applicants need to secure the necessary travel documents.
Program Term, Compensation, Work Environment
The Marine Conservation Internship Program is a full-time commitment and includes weekend and evening activities. Interns are given up to a day each work week for free time out of the office to dive/snorkel/kayak (often highly discounted or free thanks to support from REEF’s Conservation Partners), as well as volunteer in the community. It is an unpaid internship, but scholarship opportunities may be available. Housing is available and is subsidized. The REEF Internship Program is supervised by Allison Moran, REEF’s Operations Manager, and the program is based at REEF’s Campus in Key Largo, Florida.
REEF conserves marine environments worldwide. Its mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. REEF programs include marine life education, field research, and one of the largest citizen science programs in the world through unique partnerships with private, governmental, scientific, and educational sectors. REEF’s programs directly benefit and help to protect marine life worldwide. Over 70,000 members belong to the organization.
REEF was founded in 1990 as a way to educate scuba divers and snorkelers in marine life identification and to document their marine life sightings. Patterned after the successful Audubon and Cornell birding programs, the Volunteer Fish Survey Project enables marine enthusiasts to conduct surveys and submit sightings data from oceans world-wide. Data are managed by REEF staff and made available to researchers, scientists, managers, and the public free of charge via REEF’s on-line database at www.REEF.org. To date more than 240,000 marine life surveys have been submitted.
In addition to the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, REEF maintains a large and active diver education program with standardized course materials for each of its survey regions. REEF also manages the July-long Great Annual Fish Count; the Grouper Moon Project – researching grouper spawning aggregations; the Exotic Species Program – tracking the impact and control of non-native marine fish species, particularly the human-induced invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish into the Tropical West Atlantic; and the REEF Trips program – coordinating numerous field survey and data gathering expeditions each year. REEF maintains strong partnerships with federal, state, and local government agencies as well as other US based and international agencies, NGOs, and business entities.