Internship Opportunities


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established in 1970 to preserve its many outstanding natural features. The National Park Service protects the forests, beaches, dunes, and ancient glacial phenomena along 72 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, to protect it from developments and uses that would destroy its aesthetic, scientific and recreational value. The Lakeshore's historic maritime and agricultural landscapes are of a size and quality that are unique on the Great Lakes and rare elsewhere on the U.S. coastline. Located only 25 miles from Traverse City, the Lakeshore is accessible year-round for all to enjoy.

Summer Intern Positions

Resource Management Interns

Resource Protection Interns will assist Visitor and Resource Protection and Natural Resources divisions to implement a new strategy for the protection of rare plant populations. Internship offers interdivisional opportunity as well as an opportunity to work with volunteers while assisting with additional Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes projects.

Interpretation Interns

Interpretation Interns create and facilitate audience-centered experiences for visitors. Interns will gain skills in interpretation by presenting formal ranger programs and engaging visitors informally with activities throughout the park. They will also create and post content on the park’s social media platforms and assist with planning and facilitating special events.

Virtual (telework) Media Interns will gather, edit, and create content to multiple social media and websites with the goal of increasing outreach to global, younger, and more diverse audiences. This is a remote telework position. The intern will provide their own computer, internet access, and login for the Microsoft Teams platform.

Anishinaabek Stories and Lifeways interns create and facilitate audience-centered experiences specifically about the Anishinaabek culture. The intern will work with a team of educators to better share Anishinaabek stories and culture by building partnerships, creating educational programs, and social media content creation.

Cultural Resource Management

Historic/Landscape Architect Interns will assist with documenting existing conditions of park historic architecture and cultural landscapes and with drafting and developing design plans for the rehabilitation and preservation of historic buildings and cultural landscapes.

Horticulturalist Interns will assist in identification of heritage plant species for cultural landscape inventory reports and facility management programs and in developing planting plans for historic sites and participate in the restoration of cultural landscape features within those historic sites.

Other Intern Positions

Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) Intern will assist visitor and resource protection division with staffing high risk/response areas like the dune climb and Lake MI overlook to help prevent responses by educating visitors. Intern will also coordinate schedule for all PSAR volunteers

Track Chair/Accessibility Coordinator intern will coordinate all facets of Track Chair usage. This chair allows limited mobility individuals access to park trail. The intern will coordinate online chair reservations and NPS volunteers scheduling to accompany visitors. The Track Chair is free to reserve, and an NPS volunteer accompanies the group. It will also include occasionally hiking to accompany chair users and their group. This internship is ideal for an organized, motivated, and self-directed individual, with solid communications & computer skills. Background working with limited mobility individuals is a plus.



All internships require a working knowledge of cultural and/or natural resources management techniques. The work will require some physical exertion such as long periods of standing/walking outdoors over rough terrain and exposure to weather.

You should have relevant course work and/or related field experience in your application for the following:

Natural Resource Management: wildlife, vegetation, GIS, water quality management.

Park Ranger (Interpretation): environmental and/or cultural history education principles/ techniques, and the ability to prepare and present interpretive programs to large groups.

Fee collection / Interpretation / PSAR: knowledge /experience in backcountry & wilderness operations, Leave-No-Trace, and the ability to convey information and rules to visitors.

Facility Management: engineering, architecture, construction trades, and facility maintenance operations.

Cultural Resource Management: museum library or artifact inventory/handling, CAD, architecture, horticulture.

Marketing/Social Media: professional management of multiple social media platforms, photography, writing, communication with visitors and interacting with partner organizations.

Additional Requirements
Interns will be required to successfully complete a background investigation, including an FBI fingerprint check, prior to beginning their internship.

Interns must possess a valid state driver’s license, pass an online defensive driving course and may be required to drive a government vehicle.

If in a uniformed intern opportunity, uniform items will be issued and be required to be worn in accordance with established standards.



Interns will receive a $40.00 per day meal stipend, housing is provided.

You will receive valuable hands-on experience to add to career resumes.

Academic credit may be arranged with the intern’s school. Research topics or independent study projects will be agreed upon by the intern, the college advisor, and the NPS supervisor.

All interns participate in orientation training classes. Topics which will be covered depending your position include: NPS policy, history and organization; interpretive philosophy, theory, and methods; basic history, geology and ecology of the area; safety; first aid and CPR; visitor service; and resource management goals.


Housing and Transporation

Government provided housing might be available for mainland staff in Empire which has banks, restaurants, churches, gas station, medical care, and daycare. More extensive shopping, medical, and recreational opportunities are available within 30 miles. Mainland interns are responsible for their own transportation to work each day. Mainland interns may be assigned to work on the Manitou Islands for periods of time up to 10 days. During this time, they may be assigned to camp or be in park housing. Camping equipment, except for backpacks and sleeping bags, will be provided.

Housing for island staff is located on the Manitou Islands which are approximately 7 miles off shore in Lake Michigan. No other facilities are on the islands. Island staff usually work 10 days on the islands and have four days off. Temporary housing is available on the mainland for island staff on their days off. This housing is remotely located so interns should have their own transportation for shopping and other amenities. The park boat and the concession ferry provide access to and from the islands during the summer months. Island employees may ride the park boat or concession ferry at least once per month at no charge or more frequently on a space available basis.

Public transportation to and from Traverse City is available via BATA on a regular basis. Please see their website for more specific information;; click on Village Connector, Empire route.


How to apply

To apply for a summer internship: mail (hard-copy) the following:

  1. Cover letter--include which internship and why.
  2. Résumé--include relevant jobs and/or life experience.
  3. References--contact information for at least two.
  4. Transcripts--unofficial are fine.
  5. Letter of recommendation--at least one

Want to apply to multiple opportunities? You need only submit a single application package. In your cover letter, list the positions to which you wish to apply and specifically address how your knowledge skills and abilities relate to each.

Applications received by March 1 will receive earliest consideration.

Mail applications to

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
ATTN: Intern Program
9922 Front Street Empire, MI 49630

For more information, visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore website (,

or contact the volunteer coordinator Matt Mohrman (

To apply to a winter internship, follow the steps outlined in the internship descriptions.


Winter Internships Positions

Winter Education and Interpretation Interns - 2024

The internship is roughly 3 months, with start dates in early January. The start date will be determined by the hiring official and the intern.

Work includes presenting virtual and in-person curriculum-based lessons and activities on topics like ecology, ecosystem health, the National Park Service mission, and local history. Interns may also assist in leading snowshoe hikes for 3rd-5th graders and for the general public. Interns will create and post content on the park’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Interns will also be assisting with event planning.

Learn more about this year's winter interpretation interns and how to apply.

Last updated: February 3, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


231 326-4700

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