Batten Fellowships for Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Stranding Response and Research & Conservation

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Batten Fellowships for Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Stranding Response and Research & Conservation (Stipends provided)

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is offering Fellowship positions with the Research & Conservation Division and Stranding Response Program (VAQS) during the busy summer season (May – September). Qualified students can compete for one of two Batten Fellowship positions which include a stipend to help offset personal and incidental expenses. These positions are approximately 12 weeks long. Batten Fellows are expected to bring a high level of dedication and scientific interest to the program and will be integrated more fully into staff activities. Successful candidates will be required to complete a final report on their Fellowship work which will be submitted to the Aquarium’s Batten Fellowship Endowment Committee.

Requirements:
Applicants for Batten Fellowships with the Virginia Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division must:
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a rising senior, recent graduate or pursuing a post-graduate degree in a science-based program
  • Demonstrate interest in a career in marine or veterinary science
  • Have basic math and computer skills using MS spreadsheets, databases and data entry (advanced programs such as SQL, GIS, R, etc. preferred)
  • Have a valid U.S. driver’s license and good driving record
  • Be able to swim and be comfortable in and around open water and boats
  • Be self-motivated and able to perform activities both as part of a team as well as independently
  • Be able to lift and carry 25 pounds and assist with lifting and moving larger loads
  • Be able to hike up to 5 miles on beaches carrying gear
  • Be physically and mentally fit: you will be expected to handle field activities, extreme weather, constantly changing environmental conditions, extended periods of intense activities, dead and decomposing animals (both during response and necropsy), prolonged periods of travel, insects, team activities, individual activities, sick and injured animals, euthanasia, etc.
  • Be available to perform support activities (24-7) as needed during the period of appointment 
1. Summer Batten Fellowship for Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Stranding Response (Stipend provided):
We are looking for a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to assist with all aspects of marine mammal and sea turtle stranding response in Virginia. Fellowship applicants will be assessed on their completed coursework, GPA, cover letter, resume, expectations letter, two reference letters (one must be from an advisor or professor that may speak on your academic background), previous related experience and an interview.

Stranding Response Batten Fellow duties:
  • Assist VAQS volunteers and staff in field stranding response and/or recovery of dead (comprise ~90% of VA strandings) and live marine mammals and sea turtles. Activities may be conducted under adverse weather conditions
  • Assist in the collection of Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Network data
  • Participate in postmortem data collection and necropsies (animal autopsies)
  • Assist in care for animals during rehabilitation, including but not limited to: food prep, feeding, extensive cleaning (mopping floors, laundry, dishes, cleaning tanks), and other animal husbandry duties
  •  Assist with research and field activities involving sea turtles and marine mammals
2. Summer Batten Fellowship for Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Research & Conservation (Stipend provided):
We are looking for a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to assist with several aspects of on-going sea turtle research and data collection. Applicants will be assessed on their completed coursework, GPA, cover letter, resume, expectations letter, two references letters (one must be from an advisor or professor that may speak on your academic background), previous related experience, skills (such as GIS, statistics, programming) and an interview.

Research & Conservation Batten Fellow duties:
  • Assist VAQS volunteers and staff with research projects including capture, tagging, sampling and sample management of wild and incidentally captured sea turtles and surveys for marine mammals
  • Assist VAQS staff with data entry and  processing
  • Assist with sample inventory, preparation and dissemination
  • Assist with stranding response, rehabilitation efforts, and field activities involving sea turtles and marine mammals
Expectations:
Batten Fellows will be expected to study a topic selected through discussion with a VAQS supervisor and complete a research paper for presentation at the end of the appointment period. Fellows will give an oral (MS PowerPoint or similar) presentation summarizing their experience at the conclusion of the appointment and complete a survey/exit interview. It will be the responsibility of the Batten Fellow, not VAQS, to ensure that any requirements for academic credit at a home institution are fulfilled.

These competitive positions include a stipend to help offset personal and incidental expenses over the course of the appointment period.

** Summer Batten Fellow application materials are due by 5 February 2016 and notification of acceptance will occur no later than 26 February 2016.

Applicants applying for a Batten Fellowship position may also submit an application for a general internship (no stipend), if interested. Applicants also interested in the possibility of a general internship are encouraged to include the general intern application information with the Fellowship application and indicate their interest in both programs in the required letter of interest, OR complete a separate internship application. 
Batten Fellowship application packet should include:
  • Cover letter (indicating specific Batten Fellowship opportunity)
  • Resume (including GPA, completed coursework and previous experience)
  • Expectations letter
  • Two reference letters (one must be from an advisor or professor who may speak on your academic background)

Stranding Response Internship/Apprenticeship (unpaid):
The Aquarium’s Research & Conservation Division is also accepting Stranding Response Intern/Apprentice applications for summer 2016. There are four positions available. The application deadline is February 26, 2016Please note that all positions are non-compensatory and housing is not provided by the Virginia Aquarium. We consider interns to be current undergraduate students who are seeking academic credit through their home institutions and apprentices to be undergraduate, graduate or post graduate student interested in experience but not academic credit. Interns are fully responsible for fulfilling all requirements of their home institutions in order to receive academic credit.
Duties: Assist with dead and live stranding response of marine mammals and sea turtles. This includes, but is not limited to: beach response, necropsies, data and sample collection, animal disposal, cleaning, office organization, data entry and management, live animal husbandry, working with volunteer team members and staff and other activities as assigned. Review a full list of duties included below:
  • Assist in stranding response for dead marine mammals and sea turtles in the field and at the Marine Animal Care Center. Work may be conducted under adverse weather conditions such as extreme heat and humidity or rain/wind.
  • Assist in the collection of Level A data for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Participate in post mortem data collection and necropsies.
  • Assist in care for animals during rehabilitation including, but not limited to: food prep, feeding, cleaning (mopping floor, washing dirty laundry, vacuuming tanks, washing dishes, etc.), tank repairs, and other husbandry duties.
  • Assist in coordinating the release of rehabilitated and disentangled animals.
  • Assist with public outreach and education events.
  • Assist with volunteer and cooperator trainings.
  • Assist staff with daily administrative tasks including answering phones, taking messages, preparing volunteers for response, and data entry.
  • Develop and complete an independent, staff assigned project and 15 minute presentation for the stranding staff and volunteers
  • Other duties as assigned by Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response staff.
Qualifications: Applicants must: 1) be at least 18 years of age; 2) be able to and comfortable with driving full-sized pick-up trucks; 3) be in good physical condition and able to lift over 25 pounds and 4) be able to work in adverse conditions. Applicants must commit to 10 weeks and work well both independently and as part of a team. Candidates should be self-motivated, articulate, mature, reliable, responsible and able to take, as well as give direction. Internships are open to undergraduate and graduate students seeking college credit. Preference is given to students who have completed their sophomore year and are working towards credit for a degree in science. Undergraduate, graduate and post-college students are all encouraged to apply. A background in biology and familiarity with stranding response is preferred but not required.

Requirements: Interns/Apprentices are expected to work 24 hours a week (three eight-hour days) for 10 consecutive weeks unless prior approval for breaks is approved. Some weekends and holidays may be assigned. Housing and transportation cannot be provided. Most of the animals the stranding center works with are dead (approximately 95%) and most are decomposing. The center may get 10-12 strandings per day in the peak summer season. This is a position that requires a strong nose, stomach and mental state. IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE! Please consider this before applying.
Intern/apprentice application packet should include:
  • Cover Letter
  • Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center internship application form (http://www.virginiaaquarium.com/join/Documents/Intern-Application-Form.pdf)
  • Two reference letters (one must be from an advisor or professor who may speak on your academic background)
  • Statement of Intent: (1) page describing how the intern applicant intends to use the internship experience to assist in career or academic goals.
  • Resume
  • Official College Transcript(s)
All application materials should be mailed to:
Volunteer Services Office – (specify) Intern or Batten Fellow Applicant
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Boulevard
Virginia Beach, VA  23451
Telephone:  (757) 385-0274
Fax:  (757) 437-6055
E-mail: aquavols@virginiaaquarium.com

Questions about these opportunities can be directed to:
Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program
E-mail: vaqstranding@gmail.com
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