Hillis Intern

Oregon Natural Desert Association

It is preferred that the applicant live in Bend, OR or another community centrally-located to Lake Abert.

Job Type: Part-Time, Internship

Salary: $20/hr

Start / End Dates: 10 to 12 weeks in summer 2024

Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) is a conservation organization with a mission to protect, defend and restore Oregon’s high desert. With offices in Bend and Portland, Oregon, we represent more than 18,000 members and supporters in the state and across the country. ONDA’s Hillis Internship was launched in 2021 to honor one of those members, Harv Hillis, and his passion for desert conservation and stewardship. The Hillis Internship Program provides early career individuals with valuable learning and professional growth opportunities while contributing to the conservation and restoration of Oregon’s desert landscapes.

ONDA is pleased to offer an internship in summer 2024 for an aspiring conservation advocate to survey and record bird use at Lake Abert, supporting long-term monitoring efforts by two area expert ornithologists. Lake Abert, located near Paisley, Oregon, is a large hypersaline lake that provides vitally important habitat for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds traversing the Pacific Flyway on spring and fall migrations. Unfortunately, water inputs to Lake Abert have been altered by upstream management, causing the lake to dry up some years and threatening the delicate ecosystem and bird use at the lake. The data collected are shared with numerous organizations and agencies tracking how lake levels and drying conditions might affect the diversity and dependency of avifauna on the lake.

This a part-time internship of 8 to 12 hours per week for ten to twelve weeks beginning in June 2024. The opportunity will involve remote work in the field for 8-12 hours, including travel time. It is preferred that the applicant live in Bend or another community centrally-located to Lake Abert. ONDA will cover travel costs and supply equipment and supplies as needed.  Field visits may require physical exertion such as prolonged hiking over rough or steep terrain and standing in a stationary position for long durations. The intern will be expected to conduct duties in a safe and orderly manner so as not to endanger self or others, or damage property with which they are entrusted.


This internship will involve working alongside and networking with knowledgeable and passionate ornithologists and conservation advocates. Upon completion of the internship, the intern will have gained valuable and directly transferable experience in wildlife surveying and methodology. They will develop a broad understanding of wildlife and water management, natural history and legislative and administrative policies applicable to Lake Abert. Finally, they will make new friends and important contacts with ONDA staff, members and supporters dedicated to conservation of this unique and vital ecosystem.

Qualifications / Experience Level Required:

The Hillis Internship is open to early career individuals with a demonstrated interest in ONDA’s conservation mission. Early career individuals are defined as:
  • Students currently enrolled in a post-secondary educational institution (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, 4-year university, 2-year college, trade school, etc.);
  • Recent graduates who have completed a post-secondary degree or certificate within the past 12 months, or
  • Independent students who are pursuing an education or experience – formal or informal, within or without the bounds of a traditional educational institution – in a subject area related to ONDA’s mission and the internship.

Ideal candidates are those with some field experience, avian species identification and/or the patience to accurately conduct bird counts. All candidates must have a valid driver’s license.

This internship is paid at a daily rate, equivalent to $20/hour based on scope of field work. Travel expenses will be reimbursed.

Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) is the only conservation advocacy organization dedicated exclusively to protecting, defending and restoring public lands in southeastern Oregon. We take a holistic approach to conservation in the high desert, pairing targeted on-the-ground restoration and stewardship with advocacy to protect wild lands, waters and wildlife at landscape scales. ONDA also seeks to build relationships with a broad diversity of stakeholders to defend the desert against threats and achieve shared conservation goals for this quintessential region. We envision a high desert in Oregon where eight million acres of public lands are conserved to ensure that fish and wildlife thrive and wild places exist for all people to treasure and explore, now and always. https://ONDA.org

ONDA is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and seeks to create an inclusive and representative environment for all volunteers, partners, collaborators and employees. Our commitment to diversity recognizes that our mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, protected veteran status or other status protected by law. Please review our commitment to fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in environmental conservation at https://onda.org/justice/.

ONDA uses an anonymous applicant screening process to ensure fair and objective applicant evaluation. To help facilitate this review, please submit two separate attachments via the email address below as follows:
  • Attachment #1: A single page that includes your name, address, email and telephone number. Do not include this identifying information anywhere else in your attachments.
  • Attachment #2: A cover letter (without your name, address, email or telephone number) describing your qualifications and interest in the internship, your resume (without your name, address, email or telephone number), and contact information for two references. This information should be combined into a single .doc or .pdf file.

Please submit these application materials to hillisintern@onda.org no later than 5:00PM (Pacific Time), April 12, 2024.



Apply for This Position: hillisintern@onda.org

Application Closes: 04/12/2024

Visit our Resources page for resume help, additional job boards, and housing contacts for Southeast Oregon.

© High Desert Partnership. This site is managed by High Desert Partnership. High Desert Partnership strives to promote collaboration across communities of Southeastern Oregon and is actively engaged in protecting diversity, enacting equity, and fostering inclusion. Our ambition is to contribute to building a sustainable and inclusive community in which ethnic, religious, gender, political and ideological differences are heard and respected.