Biological Field Station Internships for College and High School Students

Students during Internship

The summer research internship program runs from late May through August.

Undergraduate internships are 10-week positions open to individuals enrolled in an undergraduate program of study at the time of application. The number of positions available varies from year to year based on faculty involvement and funding; typically 6-10 undergraduate students are selected to participate.

High School internships are 9-week positions open to New York State residents age 16 or older as of June 20th. The number of positions available varies from 1-3, with at least one position awarded to a resident of Otsego County, NY. Students from locales outside of Otsego County are encouraged to apply, though must be prepared to arrange housing for themselves.

2025 Application materials will be available in January 2025.

Program Information

A typical day as an intern: 8:00am organizational meeting at the BFS Main Lab to coordinate daily activities, equipment and vehicle needs, etc. Daily activities depend on the research needs of faculty, staff and interns. Some days students will work on their own projects, other days they will be helping faculty/other interns who need additional assistance. Over the course of the summer all will experience a mix of field work (fisheries surveys, plant surveys, water sampling, etc.), laboratory analyses (e.g. water chemistry, zooplankton ID, fish dissection), data analysis, writing, and many other things. If samples were collected in the field, they must be processed or prepared for storage upon return to the lab. The work day generally ends at 4:00pm.

A weekly seminar is held; day/time yet to be determined for 2024. The first few seminars will include presentations by BFS faculty and staff, covering topics related to the ecology of Otsego Lake and the hydrology of its watershed. Each intern will give a 10-20 minute presentation to the group detailing their research project(s).

Technical report(s) of research are due prior to the last day of SUNY Oneonta Summer Session (early Aug. 2024). If work is still in progress, a plan for its completion must be approved by your faculty mentor and/or BFS staff prior to the first day of fall classes. Each intern will also produce a large-format poster to display their research project and findings. Examples of technical reports can be seen in the BFS Annual Reports:

Upon successful completion of the internship and deliverables:

  • High school interns receive: $3,000
  • Undergraduate interns receive $5,000 plus complementary housing ($1,750 value), as needed

Successful candidates have a strong academic background in environmental or natural sciences. They must be self-motivated and willing to work effectively as team members under a variety of environmental conditions. Applicants should be prepared to present PowerPoint updates on their research over the summer, summarize their work in both a large-format poster and a detailed technical report of their research, to be included in the BFS Annual Report. These criteria will be considered in the evaluation of applicants.

Internship Descriptions

Internship offerings vary from year to year.

F.H.V. Mecklenburg Conservation Fellowships: Available to high school students. Named in honor of the founder of the Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA). Applicants must be at least 16 years of age. Sponsored by BFS.

The village of Cooperstown (Susquehanna River) Internships: Available to high school students. The purpose of this internship is to monitor water quality in the upper Susquehanna River to assure that the river can safely assimilate effluent from the wastewater treatment facility. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age. Sponsored by the Village of Cooperstown.

The OCCA W.N. Harman Biological Field Station Internship: This internship is awarded to an undergraduate college student. They become involved in a wide diversity of research projects. Responsibilities vary accordingly.

Biological Field Station Internships: These internships are awarded to undergraduate college students from SUNY Oneonta with majors in biology and the environmental sciences. They become involved in a wide diversity of research projects. Responsibilities vary accordingly.

Rufus J. Thayer Otsego Lake Research Assistantships: Available to college undergraduates with the background necessary to conduct research on the character and water quality of Otsego Lake. Project responsibilities include assuring for the smooth operation, equipment functioning and cleanup of the analytical laboratories in which they work on a daily basis.

Robert C. MacWatters Internships in the Aquatic Sciences: This is for college undergraduates who have an interest or background in fisheries biology and want to work on some aspect of Otsego Lake fisheries management. Priority is given to students from the Fisheries and Wildlife Technology program at SUNY Cobleskill. Project responsibilities include assuring boats are properly secured and fueled, weekly checks of crankcase oil levels and running gear (research gears aboard, lines and mechanicals).

Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA) Biological Field Station Internships: Interns selected for this internship are involved in a variety of research projects, based in part on interests of the OCCA. Responsibilities vary accordingly but include a presentation to OCCA Board of Directors.

Otsego Land Trust (OLT) Biological Field Station Internships: Interns selected for this internship are involved in research projects related to the interests of the OLT, usually on OLT properties. Responsibilities vary accordingly.

The Peterson Family Conservation Trust Internship: Internships are awarded to undergraduate college students to support survey work at Greenwoods Conservancy near Burlington, NY. Project responsibilities include trail maintenance responsibilities on all BFS lands, typically working with staff and their peers at pre-assigned intervals.

Additional Internships: On an annual basis a number of internships may be awarded to meet additional sponsorship requirements. Contact the BFS Director to ascertain their status.

  • All internships include 1 semester hour of free undergraduate college credit
  • Additional credit hours may be available after faculty consultation (at intern's expense)
  • Undergraduate students & recent high school graduates: Housing is available (at no cost); options include Main Campus dormitories and rustic bunk-style housing at the BFS Thayer Farm. A daily shuttle to and from the SUNY Oneonta Main Campus is available. Contact Nancy in the BFS office ( for more information.
  • High school students: housing is NOT available at this time. The daily shuttle to and from the SUNY Oneonta Main Campus is available and may accommodate additional stops.

HOUSING: Undergraduate student interns are eligible to live in SUNY Oneonta campus dormitories; limited rustic bunk-style housing is also available on the Thayer Farm. In some cases, interns from out of town have made personal arrangements for housing with local landlords. Contact the BFS with inquiries.

High school students are not eligible for on-campus housing unless they have graduated and are enrolled in an undergraduate program in the fall following their internship. Contact the BFS with inquiries.

TRANSPORTATION: Weekdays, the BFS provides a shuttle which leaves from SUNY Oneonta campus promptly at 7:15 from the parking lot across from the MOC Service Building on Ravene Pkwy, arriving at BFS for the 8:00am meeting. The shuttle returns to the SUNY Oneonta campus at the end of the workday (4:00pm). The field station is located about 45 minutes away from Oneonta.

COSTS: The Biological Field Station offers one semester hour of college credit for each intern that is accepted into our program. This one credit will be paid for by the BFS. An intern can opt to take up to three (3) semester hours worth of credit for the summer experience. Any additional credits above the one offered by BFS must be approved by the Director and must be paid for by the intern.

DATES: A college internship is 10 weeks long. A high school internship involves 9 weeks of participation. It is expected that each accepted intern stays the entire length of the internship. There is flexibility regarding when the internship begins and ends. Most interns have opted to start their internship within a week or two of the ending of their semester/school year. Workday begins with a group meeting promptly at 8am and concludes at 4pm each day. Certain projects may require occasional alternate hours (measuring stream discharge during storm events, 24-hour fish tracking, hydroacoustic surveys, etc.).

PROJECTS: Most projects undertaken by summer interns are related to the continued monitoring of Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna watershed that the BFS routinely carries out. You can read reports prepared by past summer interns on our website on the publications page. Intern reports are published in our Annual Report each year. Independent projects are also allowed with approval from the Director. Availability of support faculty will factor into whether a project is accepted. Water quality and biota are major components of our work. One is intimately dependent upon the other. Often interns have an affinity for one above the other; this is a major consideration when choosing a project.


Main Laboratory
5838 State Hwy 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Phone: 607-547-8778
Fax: 607-547-5114

Lakeside Farm &
Upland Interpretive Center
7027 State Hwy 80
Springfield, NY
(physical address)

Thayer Boathouse
7016 State Hwy 80
Springfield, NY

Rum Hill
Thurston Hill Rd.
Springfield, NY

Goodyear Swamp Sanctuary
7290 State Hwy 80
Springfield, NY

Greenwoods Conservancy
824 Zachow Rd.
Hartwick, NY 13348

Upper Research Site
Averill Rd.
Cooperstown, NY

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