Scientist-in-the Park Internships Engage and Excite Youth

Rich Mountain Loop Great Smoky Mtns Np Tom Harrington Nps 30927529797 2395c6c335 C
Rich Mountain Loop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park – NPS/Tom Harrington

Twenty-one biosphere regions (BRs) include various units of the National Park System across the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawai’i. State and national parks and forests comprise core biodiversity conservation areas in BRs that connect with partner organizations across lands and waters around them. Recognizing the important role of parks in many BRs, Cliff McCreedy (National Park Service Facilitator for the USBN) and the NPS Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate place talented youth into local internships in BRs with parks. Similar to the NAPECA internships, the Scientist-in-the Park internships offer the rare developmental opportunity to work with state, federal, local and tribal agencies as well as nongovernmental organizations, universities and other private entities in a collaborative setting. Biosphere regions gain valuable staff support in return. 

Scientist in the Park - Liz Halasz - Photo Credit: Colin Hastings
Scientist-in-the-Park Intern Liz Halasz – Photo Credit: Colin Hastings

The most recent internship at Southern Appalachian Biosphere Region is one of eight NPS-sponsored internships placed in biosphere regions since 2018. Liz Halasz has been working since November 2022 with the newly renamed Southern Appalachian Biosphere Cooperative (SABC) on expanding the BR’s technical capacity and partnerships across several states.

Liz graduated with honors from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Arts in geography and environmental studies. She created an ArcGIS StoryMap describing the beauty and natural, cultural and scientific values of the biosphere region. Liz also worked on data mining for the SABC Vitality Index, a tool for visualizing and evaluating socioeconomic well-being and environmental status and trends, and assisted park field staff on various geospatial projects.

Liz is hosted by Great Smoky Mountains National Park and works with Cliff and Evin Carter, the Executive Director of the SABC based at Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park. The SIP program is a collaboration between the NPS, Geological Society of America, and Stewards Individual Placements Program.

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