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The Tropical Conservation Internship Program works with local partner institutions to provide students an opportunity to develop research and professional skills and get hands-on training. This collaborative initiative supports student development and the advancement of tropical research and conservation. 

Internships are offered on a semester basis. This opportunity is made possible by the generous support from the Fernandez Pave The Way Foundation.

Impact Stories

Learn more about some of our past interns and how this program has impacted them: 

Brianna Chin

As part of the Spring 2018 Internship cohort, Briana worked at Zoo Miami tracking the movements of gopher tortoises throughout the pine rocklands surrounding the Zoo using a handheld radio receiver, antenna system and a GPS. Through the completion of her research project, Brianna learned about Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and using two different kinds of software to keep record of GPS points. Today, Brianna is a junior undergraduate student at Florida International University and recently returned from the 40th annual Gopher Tortoise Council Conference where she presented a poster based on her research through the Tropical Conservation Internship Program.

Jessica Rodriguez

Jessica was an intern at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Spring 2017. During her internship, she worked on a project that aimed to create a scoring system to rate the fitness of individual Mountain Bongo Antelope — an endangered flagship species native to the high mountain forests of Kenya — to be repatriated to its native ecosystem. In her time as an intern, she gained hands-on experience in animal husbandry and creating research proposals and presentations. Today, Jessica works full-time at FIU as a Communications and Outreach Coordinator and was recently accepted into FIU’s Earth Systems Science PhD program where she’ll be researching environmental policy.

Adrian Figueroa

As a Tropical Conservation Intern in the Spring of 2017, Adrian examined seed consumption by gopher tortoises in the globally imperiled pine rockland ecosystem surrounding Zoo Miami. Through his study, he discovered that most of the tortoise seed diet was comprised of native species, including the seeds from the only known host plant for two federally endangered butterflies. Today, Adrian is a senior undergraduate student at Florida International University and is in the process of applying to graduate programs where he aims to further develop the research he began at Zoo Miami’s Conservation and Research Department through the Tropical Conservation Internship Program.

Daniela Leal

Daniela began her internship with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Spring 2018. During this experience she worked on the Garden's "The Million Orchid Project", which aims to restore native orchids to South Florida's urban landscapes. Daniela had the opportunity to work in the micropropagation laboratory and to take on science education roles, such as participating in STEMlab and the Discovery Program. Working at Fairchild provided Daniela with more direction regarding her path to finding a career. According to Daniela, “Nothing can prepare you better than experience, and that is exactly how I feel about my internship.”

“I can say without an ounce of hesitation that my experience as a Tropical Conservation Intern offered me the experience and opened the doors needed for me to get where I am today.” Jessica Rodriguez, Spring 2017 Intern