Volunteer Field Assistant: Tropical Avian Seed Dispersal
SUMMARY: 1 volunteer research assistant is needed for approximately 3 months beginning August 1st 2017 to assist a PhD student investigating avian seed dispersal in the Dominican Republic.
ORGANIZATION: Avian Ecology Lab, Old Dominion University (Virginia, United States)
RESEARCH LOCATION: Jarabacoa, La Vega, Dominican Republic
POSITION DESCRIPTION: Volunteer field assistants will be trained to collect data for numerous field research activities, including avian surveys and flower/fruit phenology along transects/plots, focal foraging observations on study trees, collecting samples from seed traps in abandoned pastures, collecting fruits and herbarium samples from native forest plants, and data entry. Other activities will involve manual labor on such projects as volunteer work on an organic farm, plot fence repair, and maintain rustic trails along transects.
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LOGISTICS & COMPENSATION: Accommodations will be provided at a local ecolodge in the town of Jarabacoa. Meals, consisting of typical Dominican food, will be provided to the volunteer at no cost during their stay. Reimbursement (within reason) will be provided for food expenses for field trips to distant sites. Assistants will be expected to contribute 18-22 days of work to the project per month, in addition to one day per week devoted to assisting with environmental activities and organic farming at the ecolodge. All costs for in-country transportation and lodging will be provided by the project (with the exception of recreational trips on off days). Transportation to field sites (rural farms) will be either by vehicle or as a passenger on a motor-bike. Volunteers are expected to cover their own travel costs the Dominican Republic. The target start date for this position is August 1st, 2017 and the assistant must commit to a minimum of 12 weeks on the project.
FIELD STATION & AMMENITIES: Assistants should expect to share a dormitory-style room with a male roommate. Potable water, refrigerator, (cold) showers, and wireless internet are available at the ecolodge.
QUALIFICATIONS & EXPECTATIONS: Competitive candidates for this position will have demonstrated experience with botanical or wildlife research in the field. The applicant must be in good physical condition with a willingness to tolerate difficult working conditions. We routinely hike 10 km each day, often carrying 20-30 lbs of equipment. Strong organizational skills are expected for this position to adequately manage data collection and entry as well as the ability to work independently at times. An intermediate level of conversational Spanish is a prerequisite, and applicants will be tested on their ability to communicate in Spanish during the interview. These communication skills are essential, since the volunteer will be working closely with a Dominican field crew leader and communicating with land owners and our conservation partners. Additionally, applicants will be tested on recognition of bird calls provided in advance of the interview.
OTHER COMMENTS: This position is ideal for undergraduates or recent graduates looking for experience in field ecology, wildlife/plant sciences, and conservation biology for their careers. Undergraduates considering applying should communicate with their academic advisor to inquire about the possibility of using the experience to count for course credits.
(1) A one-page cover letter detailing your interest in the position and summarizing your relevant background and professional goals. I especially want to know how you see this experience benefitting you moving forward with your career.
(2) A resume or CV detailing your experiences relevant to the qualifications discussed above.
(3) Information for 2 references who, preferably, know your work habits in a field or laboratory/office setting. Provide name, title, and email for each of these persons.
DEADLINE & INTERVIEW TIMELINE:
Materials must be received by July 7th 2017 to guarantee consideration, though interviews may begin sooner, so there is an advantage to applying early. Decisions will be made as qualified candidates are found, following phone/Skype interviews and consulting references.
Send all materials in a single PDF document to:
Department of Biological Sciences
Old Dominion University