River Partners Restoration Scholars Program

Training the next generation of conservation leaders

Over the past two critical decades, River Partners has revitalized tens of thousands of acres of 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.

2020 Science Scholar Twyla Capurro studied soil health at our 1,400-acre Hamilton City restoration site along the Sacramento River.

Interns have always been important contributors 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.

Science Scholars work on active restoration project sites, collecting and analyzing plant and wildlife data, and informing River Partners’ conservation strategies. Field Interns 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, Turlock, 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.

2020 intern Carissa Stanz studied mammal diversity at our San Dieguito and Rancho Jamul sites in San Diego County.

“My summer internship gave me the freedom to conduct an independent study on plant survival on gravel bar deposits,” says former River Partners intern Jessica Shippen. “It was hard work, but ultimately very rewarding. I recommend it to all young scientists hoping to get their boots dirty and gain rewarding experience out working in the field.”

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 fulltime opportunities down the road. “Beyond being satisfying, fun and totally insightful, my internship with River Partners opened doors,” says Capurro. “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 internships, visit River Partners Careers. Applications will be accepted until April 16.

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River Partners is helping lead a shift in how we restore floodplains and re-value our river forests. River/Shift shares the latest developments on the restoration projects, advances in science and technology, and partnerships that are bringing life back to rivers to benefit the ecosystems, economies and communities of California.

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Solutions at scale are more urgently needed than ever. We welcome you to learn more about our projects near your community, contact us with partnership and strategic restoration opportunities, or support our work.