2022 Restoration Scholars Program Kicks Off

Training Tomorrow’s Conservation Leaders

Over the past two critical decades, River Partners has revitalized nearly 20,000 acres of riverside habitat to benefit California’s environment and people. To keep this momentum going well into the future, we need to train the next generation of biologists, ecologists, and field experts to bring life back to our riverways on an even larger scale.

2021 Restoration Scholar Francisco Gallegos helped River Partners get one step closer to bringing life back to a critical wildlife corridor along State Route 94 in San Diego County. He researched soil and vegetation variations for both native and non-native plants, conducted field monitoring, and developed climate projections to inform the design and health of future restoration efforts in a changing climate.

Internships have always been important ways to contribute to River Partners’ success. Today Restoration Scholars with biology, ecology, natural resources, agricultural, and land management backgrounds gain valuable experience and exposure to River Partners’ groundbreaking restoration practices.

We’re accepting applications for our 2022 Restoration Scholars program until April 29th. Visit River Partners Careers for details.

Science Scholars work on active restoration project sites, collecting and analyzing plant and wildlife data, and informing River Partners’ conservation strategies. Field Scholars work directly with our operations teams on large-scale restoration projects, farming native habitat and connecting restoration science with practice in the field.

“As a student, it’s critical to gain real-life work experience outside the classroom and this internship was a perfect opportunity to do that,” says Twyla Capurro, a Summer 2020 River Partners Science Scholar. “Working with River Partners gave me the opportunity to gain some real hands-on field and research experience.”

Science Scholars take on self-directed research projects, collecting data from River Partners’ habitat restoration sites in one of four California regions (Chico, Sacramento, Modesto, and San Diego). Capurro’s research examined the health of soil amended with walnut wood chips at our Hamilton City project, a 1,400-acre restoration located along the Sacramento River in Northern California. Other student projects have focused on insect diversity, predation of endangered riverbank species such as the riparian brush rabbit, and the presence of aquatic species like salmon on active floodplains.

“I wanted to give this a try and learn and the experience I had really helped me sharpen my skills,” says 2021 River Partners intern Francisco Gallegos. “River Partners uses GIS and all these other awesome technologies and I’ve learned all these skills that I’ve needed going back to Biogeography. This opportunity really helped open my scope of goals.”

2021 Restoration Scholar Vanessa Padilla’s summer project involved monitoring vegetation and researching mammal populations at River Partners’ unrestored 285-acre Grayson Riverbend Preserve near Modesto. Her work will help establish a baseline of wildlife populations currently inhabiting the property to elevate our and the scientific community’s understanding of the wildlife benefits associated with restored floodplains.

For River Partners Director of Development Helen Swagerty, an internship with River Partners was the first step into a lasting career. “I got my start at River Partners in 2000 working as a science intern,” she says. “That opportunity exposed me to the nuances associated with restoration design, monitoring, and project implementation on a scale I could not have imagined. Twenty years later I’m serving in a senior role and shaping the pace and course of riparian restoration in California.”

River Partners internships are paid positions, and the experience students gain can lead to full time opportunities down the road. “Beyond being satisfying, fun and totally insightful, my internship with River Partners opened doors,” says a past Scholar. “I am now working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is totally awesome. It was undoubtedly my experience with River Partners that inspired me to work more closely with wildlife and lead me to the job I have now.”

For more information about our Restoration Scholars program, visit River Partners Careers. Applications will be accepted until April 29, 2022.