Shenandoah National Park

Natural Resource Interpretive Assistant -  Shenandoah, VA

Position Type: LHIP Internship
Primary Field: Interpretation/Education

The Shenandoah LHIP intern will develop and present professional thematic interpretive programs (such as guided walks, talks, junior ranger programs, and evening programs) about the Park’s significance to a wide variety of audiences (50%). These ranger programs will focus on the park's geologic story and emerging critical issues such as climate change and preservation of night skies, as well as other relevant Park topics. Our programs are given in a diversity of park locations including campgrounds, trails, visitor centers, and historic buildings and range in length from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Audience sizes can vary from 2 to 50+ people. The LHIP intern will also perform other duties in connection with staffing the visitor center and will provide information and informal interpretation during fixed station and roving assignments (50%). Roving occurs on popular trails and other high-use areas in the park.

Participant will receive at least 40 hours of formal training in interpretive skills, customer service, safety, and natural and cultural resources; plus 40 hours of on-the-job training in presenting interpretive programs and park operations. The participant will have the opportunity to shadow experienced staff members while they develop their individual programs. Staff leads and supervisors will provide on-line training and one-on-one mentoring and coaching opportunities throughout the season.

The intern will help the park’s interpretive operation expand our relevancy, diversity, and inclusion and be given the opportunity to include their personal and professional experiences and knowledge in their programs they deliver. This will help reach the park’s goals and mission to relay local and national natural resource relevant issues through the use of interpretation and education while fostering future stewardship of National Park sites like Shenandoah.


  • The participant will have upper-level college coursework in natural and/or cultural resources and science in related subject matter like archaeology, paleontology, history, ecology, geology, wildlife biology, botany, evolution, climate change, earth science, and environmental studies.
  • Good public speaking skills is crucial, as is a desire to work with the public.
  • Proficiency with computers and basic office equipment is essential.
  • Spanish language fluency, although not required, would be a great benefit to the program in providing additional services and relevance to our visitors.

Work Environment:

  • Shenandoah usually hosts several summer interns in the division of Interpretation and Education and several in cultural and natural resources, to work alongside our large seasonal staff and smaller permanent staff.
  • Once the participant has completed their initial training and orientation, they will independently conduct interpretive programs throughout the park at a variety of locations to possibly include amphitheaters, visitor centers, and overlooks/pullouts.
  • They will operate a government vehicle and load/unload their visual aids for their programs which might include a small folding table, animal props like pelts and footprints, historical pieces, and computer equipment like laptops, etc.
  • For their formal interpretive programs, the intern may be required to operate a projector and related equipment for illustrated evening programs using PowerPoint, they may be required to hike up to 2 miles for their guided walk program over uneven terrain in a variety of environments to include rocky outcrops, deep forest, and open meadows.
  • The participant will also provide visitor center assistance at Byrd and/or Dickey Ridge visitor centers, working with other staff at each station to provide visitor assistance and information as well as basic operational duties to include light cleaning, stocking supplies, and opening/closing procedures.
  • The location of daily shifts will vary throughout the park to include hiking trails, outdoor amphitheaters, visitor centers, Mobile Visitor Center, overlooks, etc.
  • Tick safety information will be provided during orientation and throughout the season. The park is home to approximately 500 black bears, 2 species of venomous snakes, as well as a variety of other wildlife.
  • The park enjoys the full four seasons and the intern’s work will be conducted indoors and outdoors during occasional inclement weather (light rain or windy conditions) as well as during hot, humid summers and crisp, cool spring/fall conditions.

Driver's License:

  • A personal vehicle may be required to drive to the visitor center 5-25 miles, depending on the location of their housing. A government vehicle will be provided for commuting on work time from their duty station to programs. The applicant must have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record and submit to a standard background investigation as per National Park Service regulations.
  • The intern is required to drive a parked vehicle for their position. Stewards will perform a driving record search, and the GIP’s ability to drive a park vehicle during work hours will be contingent upon the results.
  • GIPs will have to have had their license for 3 years or be over the age of 21 to be insured as drivers under Stewards insurance policy. Examples of things that will preclude a GIP from driving a park vehicle include GIP under the age of 21 years old that has been licensed for less than three years, DUIs, multiple moving vehicle violations, suspended or revoked the license, or three or more accidents (regardless of fault) in the last 3 years. If the driver’s search is favorable, Stewards will provide driver’s liability insurance while the intern is driving an NPS vehicle for their GIP position.