Water Resources Experiential Learning for USDA Careers

USDA NIFA AWARD No. 2015-38422-24058
Award Title: Water Resources Experiential Learning for USDA Careers
Lead Agency: Cal State San Bernardino University Enterprises Corporation (FF20717)
Award Period: 09/01/15-08/31/19




This project is limited to full-time students that are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate disciplines at any of the twenty three California State University (CSU) campuses and/or the one hundred thirteen California Community Colleges (CCC).

It is aimed at students in the following primary disciplines and subject matter areas: Water Science/Water Resources, Environmental Sciences/Management, Conservation, Renewable Energy, and Natural Resources including Forestry and Ecology/Wetlands, Biological Sciences including General/Basic Biotechnology, Biochemistry, and Microbiology, Plant Sciences and Horticulture including Turf Sciences, Agricultural/Biological Engineering, Agricultural Social Sciences and Soil Science. These disciplines will prepare students for occupations which the USDA Office of Human Capital Management has identified as Mission Critical, including Forestry Technician, General Biological Scientist, Biological Science Technician, Soil Conservation Specialist, Soil Conservation Technician, Forestry Specialist, Soil Science Specialist and Statistician Specialist. Please note: the project is not exclusive to these disciplines and areas because the USDA employs a variety of college-educated specialists.

The primary objective of this annually renewable 4-year USDA Regional or National Collaboration project that was awarded to CSU’s Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) is to measurably increase the encouragement, retention, graduation, and USDA career attainment of underrepresented California State University and California Community College students. The project is managed by the Water Resources and Policy Initiatives at Cal State San Bernardino and administered as a Sponsored Program of the University Enterprises Corporation.

The strategic goal of this project is to measurably increase student research skills that ensure our national forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and made more resilient to climate change, while simultaneously enhancing the sustainability of the Nation’s water resources.

This project provides funding for 50 paid Water Resources Internships per year for a total of 200 internships to eligible students over four years. The internships provide an experiential approach to learning in the field of water resources and/or watershed management which helps students gain real-world experience in natural resource protection while developing new knowledge, skills, and abilities in problem-solving from a watershed perspective. The total salary paid to each undergraduate-level Water Resources Internship is $4,500 with students earning a salary of $12.50 per hour for 360 total hours. The total salary paid to each graduate-level Water Resources Internship is $4,500 with students earning a salary of $15.00 per hour for 300 total hours. The project also provides up to $560 per student for the purchase of approved supplies and materials. No single item may exceed $500, including tax. UEC employees with prior CalPERS membership- Total number of internship hours will be reduced to allocate for CalPERs contributions.

Activities performed by interns during Water Resources Internships are to be related to aspects of natural resource protection as it is carried out by three particular USDA agencies: the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Forest Service (FS). The training provided is aimed at preparing 80% of these 200 participants for USDA natural resource careers within NRCS, ARS and FS, all of whom are seeking graduates from populations currently underrepresented in their workforce. Each student awarded a Water Resources Internship will be required to identify any mandatory courses that are required as a prerequisite to submitting a USDA application and whether the CSU/CCC campus they attend offers the necessary courses. Students attending a CSU/CCC campus that does not offer the courses needed on their home campus will be required to identify where those classes are available, whether that is at another CSU/CCC or a nearby institution, and the date by which the student will complete those classes. Job descriptions for USDA entry-level positions will be placed on the WRPI website which will enable each participating student to select a position of interest and complete the proper academic preparation and work experience.

It is the sole responsibility of each participating CSU/CCC campus, with support provided by WRPI staff, to recruit underrepresented students, particularly Hispanic students, and submit eligible Applications for Water Resources Internships. To foster the success of this project, internships cannot be held for any CSU/CCC campus that fails to participate. The WRPI will also provide resources to CSU/CCC institutions enabling them to feature this project at on-campus programs aimed at recruiting Hispanic American students to enroll in higher education. Applications submitted outside of the open solicitation dates will be accepted, however these applications will be placed on a wait list until timely applications are reviewed and awarded.

Applications for Water Resources Internships are submitted to and evaluated by the Internship Manager, Christina Rodriguez, and the WRPI Project Director, Dr. David Zoldoske, to ensure that each student, as well as the proposed scope, meets project objectives and represents the demographics of each institution while also complying with requirements of California’s Proposition 209, which amended the state constitution in 1996 to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity in selection decisions.

Project Participant Responsibilities

Faculty Advisor, Researcher, Agency Supervisor Responsibilities

Student Intern Responsibilities

Applying for Internships

Full Application Form for USDA Water Resources Internships (intern and project)

Intern Application Form for USDA Water Resources Internships

Agency/Faculty Project Application Form for USDA Water Resources Internships

Eligibility Requirements for USDA Water Resources Internships

Project Approval Guidelines for USDA Water Resources Internships

How CSU/CCC Students Apply for USDA Water Resources Internships

How CSUSB Students Apply for USDA Water Resources Internship

Intern Informed Consent for Data Collection

Liability Release Forms - Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Chico, Dominguez Hills, East Bay, Fresno, Fullerton, Humboldt, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Cal Maritime Academy, Monterey Bay, Northridge, Cal Poly Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Jose, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Marcos, San Diego State, Sonoma, Stanislaus, California Community Colleges

Getting Paid

How CSU/CCC Students Get Hired and Paid for USDA Water Resources Internships

How CSUSB Students Get Hired and Paid for USDA Water Resources Internships

USDA Student Employee Timesheet (Excel)

Paylocity Registration Instructions

Paylocity Instructions Webinar

Payroll Calendar 2017

Signature Authorization Form

Supplies and Transportation

USDA Internship Supplies Order Form (Excel)

Ordering Supplies for USDA Water Resources Internships

Mileage Reimbursement Form

Submitting Mileage Claims

USDA Career Identification Requirement

How to Fulfill the USDA Career Identification Requirement

Online Resources for USDA Careers

Career Identification Worksheet for Water Resources Interns (Word)


Final Report Instructions

Interns' Project Reports (2015-2019)

Interns' Project Reports (2011-2015)


Contact Information

Christina Rodriguez, Internship Manager
Water Resources Institute, CSU-San Bernardino
909-537-7681 (office)

Dr. David Zoldoske, Project Director
Water Resources and Policy Initiatives, CSU-Fresno
559-278-2066 (office)


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