Summer Internships at the VSWS

If you are interested in conservation education, working closely with people, putting in long hours of hard work in all weather conditions, and living in rustic accommodations with no electricity, very little running water, or little to no telephone service, then this internship is definitely for you. At the end of the day, you will be dirty, you will be exhausted, and you will smile knowing that you have seen things most wildlife enthusiasts only dream about.

Interns at The American Bear Association

The American Bear Association is looking for qualified, energetic interns for the Summer 2023 season at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary in the North Woods of Minnesota. The Sanctuary offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the public to view and learn about wild black bears. Some interns may qualify for a small stipend.

Eco-Volunteer Application

Intern Duties at the Bear Sanctuary

Morning/afternoon jobs

  • Picking up and/or unloading supplies, including 50-pound bags of seed and 35-pound bags of fruit and nuts. Heavy lifting is often a part of the job and is therefore required.
  • Daily cleanup of feeding areas and scat removal
  • Maintaining the property, including carpentry projects
  • Planting, mulching, weed-eating and other landscape improvement projects
  • Preparing and distributing bear food mixtures
  • Splitting firewood, road maintenance and other miscellaneous tasks
  • Maintain records on bear activity and behavior
  • Photograph individual bears for records
  • Bird count survey via
  •  MN annual berry study via MN Department of Natural Resources
  • Research projects are sometimes available upon request. If it is a requirement for your internship, an adviser must oversee the research project
  • Cooking meals for staff and volunteers, and kitchen cleanup
  • Write articles for our newsletter, Bear in Mind
  • Prepare educational material for our followers on Facebook and Instagram and our email subscribers

Jobs during evening/visitors’ hours include:

  • Assisting with admission and parking cars
  • Greeting visitors on their arrival
  • Talking with the public and answering their questions
  • Educating the public about black bears, ecology, behavior, practical environmental conservation and land stewardship
  • Preparing formal 3-8 minute deck talks that interpret bear behavior and debunk any myths and misconceptions our visitors may have regarding bears
  • Execute a prepared 5 minute introductory bus talk on the history of the bears and Vince Shute
  • Sale of souvenirs and educational materials in the gift shop and at our visitor center
  • Promoting membership to the American Bear Association

Living Conditions and Amenities at the VSWS

Interning at the Sanctuary provides a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in working with wildlife, natural resources, and environmental education. You will have virtually no living expenses as your food and housing are provided by the ABA. Accommodations are rustic dormitory living with no running water, electricity, or cell phone service. We do have running water for hand washing and all drinking water is brought in from a local resort. There is a Laundromat in town and showers are available at a nearby campground. Unfortunately, daily showers are not always possible — so please be prepared. You will be expected to be clean and neat when it is time to meet the public. Your work day will typically average 8-10 hours, although it may be shorter or longer depending on the time of year. Days off (usually 1 per week) will be arranged, depending on volunteer availability to take your place. Please remember that the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is located in a remote area with limited transportation available. Bike riding on the Sanctuary is prohibited due to heavy bear activity.

Area Description – Orr Minnesota

The Sanctuary is located in the beautiful North Woods of Minnesota. The nearest town (13 miles) is Orr, population 257. Two restaurants, a small grocery store, gas station, post office, churches, motels, and other services are available. A small hospital is within a 30-minute drive. Major medical services are offered in Duluth, 2 hours away. Numerous campgrounds and resorts are located on nearby Pelican Lake. Recreational opportunities include fishing and boating on area lakes and canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The International Wolf Center, Sax Zim Bog and Hawkridge Bird Observatory (both birding meccas), Superior National Forest, and Voyageurs National Park are popular nearby destinations.

American Bear Association Intern Requirements

The primary requirement is a sincere desire to help promote the welfare of bears and other natural resources through a personal contribution of long hours and hard work. Preference will be given to candidates who are enrolled in or have recently completed post-secondary education in programs such as wildlife management, wildlife biology, environmental education, natural resources, and business administration. However, other applicants with a sincere desire to intern with us will be given serious consideration as well. All interns must read the ABA Volunteer Handbook and be willing to complete a liability waiver form. An applicant must be conscientious, have a good work ethic, and be a team player and self-starter. In addition he or she must be able to follow directions and have good social skills in dealing with the public. We are looking for individuals that can stay for at LEAST a month between May 1st and October 15th. Since space is limited, those able to stay longer will be given preference. We can sometimes be flexible with dates. We are ALWAYS looking for people to stay August-October 1st  as we become short staffed as interns go back to school. We are looking for applicants who are:

  • Flexible regarding changes in schedule and work tasks
  • Comfortable being in close proximity to large wild animals such as bears
  • Able to work closely and cooperatively with other interns, staff, and volunteers
  • Able to work outside in temperatures ranging from the 30s to the 90s and in all weather conditions
  • Willing to endure the many biting insects that inhabit Northern Minnesota during the summer
  • Comfortable talking with the public about the untraditional nature of the VSWS. As a supplemental feeding site, with a 50-year history of feeding wild black bears, we often are controversial

How do I apply?

Fill in an Internship Application and email it to us. Applicants must also send; a resume, a letter of recommendation and one reference. Alternatively call The American Bear Association office between the hours of 10:00am and 5:00pm CST, Tuesday-Saturday, at 218-757-0172. We are currently accepting applications for the upcoming 2022 season. The application deadline for interns seeking to intern for May-July is April 25th th, 2022. For those seeking to intern in August-October, the deadline is July 1st, 2022.Space is limited so APPLY EARLY!