EPIC Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

Program Overview

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) USFWS is the only federal agency with the primary responsibility of preserving and managing the lands and waters of the U.S., specifically fish, wildlife and plants. The agency’s ~9,000 employees work in all 50 states and U.S. territories in partnership with others to achieve this mission.

EPIC-USFWS Individual Placement (internships) and Fellowship programs provide hands-on opportunities to work alongside and under the guidance of USFWS mentors to build practical skills and knowledge in various USFWS Programs.  Opportunities span the spectrum of habitat, fish and wildlife management and restoration. Examples include botany, ecology, wildlife and fisheries biology, fishery research and propagation, refuge planning, visitor services, outreach and education, GIS, cultural resources and maintenance across all FWS regions nationwide.    

What We Do

The EPIC-FWS Division strives to become a bridge between academia and career by assessing the educational and experiential backgrounds of potential members and/or fellows in an effort to connect them with rewarding careers as the next generation of natural resource stewards or to simply foster an enhanced sense of respect for natural resources and the entities responsible for their management.

EPIC-FWS Division offers opportunities with USFWS that can vary in length from 2 -12 months. Members receive a living allowance. Housing at the work location is ideal, but allowances can cover housing costs at the duty location, as well.  ACE is a proud partner and supporter of AmeriCorps. Many positions have an education award opportunity through the AmeriCorps program. Participants who meet the requirements can utilize the Public Land Corps Act hiring authority.

Where We Work

Between the years of 2018 and 2021, ACE placed approximately 600 members at over 70 FWS locations nationwide.  While the majority of members serve in the National Wildlife Refuge System, other areas/offices include National Fish Hatcheries, Regional Offices and the FWS’s Washington Office. 

What to Expect
The USFWS is an agency with an extremely diverse mission.  This is reflected in the wide variety of opportunities available through the USFWS/ACE-EPIC partnership.  Members should expect a rewarding and educational experience serving under the extraordinary mentorship of passionate USFWS professional land managers, biologists, ecologists, botanists, maintenance personnel, and administrators.  Members should also expect a well-rounded interdisciplinary experience in some of the most spectacular landscapes in the country.

Directorate Fellows Program (DFP)

The Directorate Fellows Program (DFP) is a Direct Hire Authority Program that includes an 11-week Fellowship project for current students at the rising senior undergraduate or graduate school level.  Upon successful completion of the Fellowship program, along with degree conferral, participants may be directly appointed without competition to full time, permanent positions. 

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service goal is to promote and maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce that thrives in an environment accessible to all and free of employment discrimination. DFP provides an opportunity for interested students from all diverse backgrounds, including women, minorities, and other underrepresented populations to gain valuable experience leading to a career in conservation. DFP was established in 2014 with over 380 participants to date. Among these participants, over 150 Fellows were hired permanently with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Program Details
  • 11-week paid summer position
  • 1-week orientation at the FWS National Conservation Training Center
  • Direct Hire Authority eligible after completing program requirements 
  • Many locations nationally 
  • Travel funding provided
  • Housing may be available
  • 100+ fellowship opportunities nationwide
  • Current students: undergraduate rising seniors; enrolled or current graduate students with a graduation date later than September 22, 2021 (or after 11 week fellowship).
  • GPA: 3.0 or higher
  • U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, age 17 or older
  • Available for 12 weeks during the summer (1-week orientation plus 11-week fellowship)
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Males born after December 31, 1959, and are at least 18 years of age, must register with the Selective Service System, unless they meet certain exemptions
Application Information
  • The application deadline is January 15th, 2021!
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and the application period may close before the deadline if a sufficient number of applications are received. Applicants are highly encouraged to apply early to ensure consideration. 
  • Applicants may apply to as many projects as they are qualified for and interested in. Selected applicants work on a specific project, strategically designed to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s priorities. 

Previous DFP Projects included: species conservation planning, field surveys and species monitoring, landscape scale conservation partnerships, environmental law and policy, education and outreach, community engagement, digital communications, and many others that support the agency’s mission. 

Most projects are a good fit for students with majors in biological sciences and natural resources. There may be a limited number of projects available for students with majors in education/outreach, social sciences/humanities, geographic and information sciences, information technology, law enforcement/criminal justice, and communications/marketing. Competition for these limited non-biological related projects may be high. 

How to Apply

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with 3 partner organizations to administer the Directorate Fellows Program for 2021:

Each partner organization is administering a specific number of projects based on geographic location. Applying with multiple partners ensures you will have access to view and apply for all projects of interest to you. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply via multiple partners to view all project opportunities. 

There is a 2-step application process: 

  1. Apply to qualify for the Program requirements via our partner sites below. At minimum, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA, be a current undergraduate rising senior, senior or a graduate student who will complete your degree requirements after the 11 week fellowship (August or September 22, 2021). 
  2. After you’ve qualified for the Program, when specific project descriptions are posted, you will be notified to log back into your application and select the specific project/locations you are interested in applying to. 

Eligibility Requirements
Current students: Undergraduate rising senior or senior; enrolled or current graduate students that will complete degree requirements after the 11 week fellowship (mid to late August 2021).

Need Assistance?

For general questions on the DFP program, contact ACE at dfp@usaconservation.org or connect@fws.gov.

Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and/or hiring process should contact the partner or hiring agency directly.

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