Stream Fish Habitat Internship

a river where interns might workLooking upstream while sampling a north shore stream. This provides a good example of diverse stream habitats that are sampled including riffles, run, and pool habitat.


Interested in learning about fish and rivers?

The Ecological and Water Resources Division’s River Ecology Unit is heavily involved in long-term monitoring of habitat conditions and biodiversity, development of fish habitat preference curves, and restoration of rivers. Each summer, the River Ecology Unit’s – Stream Habitat Fish interns gain valuable on-the-job work experience in fisheries and river research. Generally, three to four interns are hired per summer field season.

Stream Habitat Fish interns will learn about:

How to apply

Internship postings are active during the month of January. Look for the announcement on the Minnesota Careers webpage.  If you have questions related to Stream Habitat Fish internships, contact [email protected]

  1. Log onto Minnesota Careers.
  2. Enter "intern" in the keywords field on the job search page.
  3. Select "Natural Resources Dept" in the "Agency" column on the left side of the page.
  4. View the Stream Fish Habitat internship posting.


The internships generally start after Memorial Day and continue to Labor Day. Actual dates vary depending on academic and yearly calendars. Required availability is from the June 1 through mid-August.


Interns earn $19 per hour; benefits are not included.


The River Ecology Unit is a statewide program stationed at DNR Central Office in St. Paul. The typical office work schedule is Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In a typical field week, we leave for the field on a Monday, return on a Thursday, and are in the office on Friday. Weekly office and field hours will vary based on where we are traveling for the week, which may be anywhere in the state. Interns are responsible for their own housing and living expenses on their off time (i.e., weeknights not in travel status and weekends).

Interns are required to travel overnight, generally two to three nights per week. When traveling overnight, the following is provided:

  • Lodging (hotel rooms – everyone gets their own room)
  • Transportation in state vehicles
  • Meals are reimbursed
fish sampling location in MN

Stream fish habitat sites sampled by the MNDNR River Ecology Unit between 1987 and 2020. The Unit conducts statewide sampling of fish habitat, with two established long-term sites which are sampled annually, along with an additional 15 to 25 sites per season.


The primary responsibility will be to work as a team to assist the crew leader in the collection of biological and physical data on streams, predominately warm water streams. Duties include:

  • Electrofishing with pre-positioned area shockers
  • Fish identification
  • Stream microhabitat and cover quantification
  • Velocity measurements with wading rods and flow meters
  • Water quality measurements
  • Purse seining

Fish habitat sampling sequence

The process for prepositioned area shocker (PAS) sampling is shown here in a sequence of four images involving MN DNR staff and interns.


Additional duties may include, but are not limited to equipment organization and maintenance, data entry in Microsoft Access and ArcGIS, topographic surveying, and geomorphologic monitoring of stream restoration projects.

This job requires walking on rough terrain, wading streams (often in fast flows), lifting and carrying heavy equipment (max of 50 pounds) – such as generators, small boats and outboard motors. (Non-motorized canoe and boat will primarily be used.) The candidate will regularly be required to carry nets and anchors while wading streams. This position requires swimming while wearing a lifejacket and pulling a large net.

Minimum qualifications:

To be eligible for an Internship, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must be a student at an accredited educational institution; AND
  2. Your advisor must certify that you will either receive academic credit or fulfill an academic requirement. The signature of a sponsoring academic instructor is required prior to beginning an Internship.
  3. Majoring in one of the following: biology, natural resources, fisheries, ecology, aquatic biology, environmental science, water resource management. If you are unsure if your major qualifies, please contact us.

Additional minimum requirements include:

  • Coursework in ichthyology
  • Must be available to work from late May/early June to mid-August
  • Ability to work well as part of a team and independently
  • Excellent written communication skills
  • Ability to swim
  • Ability to accurately record and enter data
  • Willingness to travel overnight, three to four nights per week on short notice
  • Willingness to work extended shifts of 10-12 hours as needed and in adverse weather conditions
  • Excellent human relation and communication skills sufficient to represent the position and division in a professional, efficient, and clear manner
  • Sense of humor
  • Must have a valid Class D driver’s license

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience in fish identification using taxonomic keys
  • Experience with electrofishing
  • Experience trailering and towing boats
  • Experience with wading rods and current meters
  • Experience using GPS equipment
  • Experience using Geographic Information System (GIS)

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