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COAST Student Internships Summer 2017

​​​National Marine Protected Areas Center 

Marine Protected Area Inventory Internship​


Host:  National Marine Protected Areas Center 

The NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center is the nation's hub for building innovative partnerships and tools to protect special ocean places. The Center works in partnership with the federal, state, tribal, and local governments, tribes, and stakeholders to develop and implement a national system of MPAs. These collaborative efforts help ensure more efficient, effective use of MPAs now and in the future to conserve and sustain the nation's vital marine resources. To assist in achieving this mission, the MPA Center manages a comprehensive geospatial database known as The Marine Protected Areas Inventory (MPA Inventory), which is designed to map and classify marine protected areas within U.S. waters. The Inventory contains information on over 1,700 sites and is used as a tool to evaluate national MPA status and trends and as a public resource to visualize and learn about marine protected areas.

Location: Monterey

Internship Dates: June 5 - August 18, 2017; start and end dates flexible with regard to student’s academic commitments.

Stipend: $5,000

Time Commitment: The internship is a full time, 11-week commitment. Over the 11 weeks, the intern may take up to five days off for personal reasons, vacation or illness. If participation is less than 100%, the stipend will be pro-rated. 

Position Description and Responsibilities:  The MPA Inventory is used to communicate spatial and non-spatial information about protected places in U.S. waters. It stores spatial boundary data and links these to information on site management, regulations and a wide range of other classification attributes for each MPA. Maintaining an accurate and current dataset is an ongoing effort, requiring regular updates to the spatial data and attribute information. In addition to maintenance, the MPA Center is routinely adding new information into the Inventory to improve its utility, answer more detailed inquiries regarding MPA coverage and representativeness, and meet the needs of MPA partner and programs both nationally and globally.  

The MPA Inventory is being revised, updated and improved to focus more directly on MPAs that meet the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area definition, an international standard that will translate U.S. MPA classifications into a more global language. This requires research and analysis of all MPAs in the Inventory, review of site establishment purpose and regulations, and development of a cross-walk strategy to classify each site to an appropriate IUCN category. This effort will also include updates to existing classification attributes, modifications of spatial boundary data and analysis of spatial trends. 

One (1) internship is offered with the MPA Center to support data development and analysis of the MPA Inventory. The intern will work with MPA Center staff to support the required review, update and reclassification of the MPA Inventory, including the addition of IUCN categories, site purpose and regulations attributes. The intern will also assist with the spatial analysis and synthesis of results into reports, graphics and outreach materials.

Project Responsibilities:

1. ​​​​Work with the MPA Center staff to update spatial data and classification information.

​​​2. Assist in development and implementation of classification strategy for IUCN categorization.

​​​3. Use GIS software to statistically analyze data sets under the supervision of staff.

​​​4. Compile synthesis of results in creative ways using graphs, charts and tables.

​​5. Contribute findings via text and graphics to reports and other outreach materials.


​Preferred Experience and Capabilities: Experience or training in GIS or data management, environmental sciences, or biological sciences. The successful candidate must be highly organized with the ability to work independently as well as within a team setting, and able to effectively communicate orally and in writing. Ideal candidates should be self-motivated, creative, innovative, and comfortable working in a collaborative environment. Also important is the ability to effectively manage multiple tasks, and enthusiasm about marine science, stewardship and conservation. Computer proficiency is essential and at least some familiarity with GIS and spatial analysis is preferred.

Skills Gained:  The intern will learn about a wide range of MPA programs working to conserve and protect ocean resources in the U.S. and will gain knowledge about the various approaches to marine protected area design, management, and regulation. The intern will gain experience working with a small team, and working independently t​o advance the MPA Inventory and improve the depth and reach of the stories it can tell. Intern will learn how to operate within a small professional federal government office.

Eligibility/Requirements: The internship is intended for an upper-class undergraduate student (juniors/seniors) or graduate student, in good academic standing with their university. A valid California State driver’s license is required. Intern must be 18 years or older. Applicants are also subject to additional eligibility and requirements that can be found here.​​