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Join the team at the Conservation Ecology Centre on a Conservation & Research Internship.

Our volunteer Interns bring skills, expertise and enthusiasm and make a great contribution to our conservation programs, assisting with on ground action, community engagement, research, wildlife husbandry and organisational development.

The positions provide an outstanding opportunity for gaining experience in wildlife handling, research project design, data collection and analysis, community engagement, habitat conservation and non-profit management.

Potential interns will hold a degree in (or currently be studying) ecology, biology, wildlife conservation, zoology, conservation biology or similar subjects at tertiary level.

Volunteer internship placements are for three months and two positions are available at a time.

Applications for the first round of 2019 Internships are now open, and close on 27 October 2018.

Click here for further details on dates and how to apply.

We will announce future application rounds via social media – via Twitter and Facebook.

Or if you have a specialist skill you think we could use send us a message on the volunteer page.


Meet our past interns…

Erin Harris

2018 Intern

Erin grew up in Tasmania and has always been passionate about wildlife and nature conservation. She completed a Bachelor of Science with a Major in Zoology at the University of Tasmania and went on to do a Masters of Environmental Management. Erin’s main research interests are within biodiversity conservation, anthropogenic disturbances and environmental management. Through many years volunteering with different research projects Erin has gained a wide range of field skills particularly within ecological flora and fauna monitoring. She has also spent many years working directly with some of Tasmania’s most unique species, such as the Tasmanian Devil and eastern quoll, as part of important breeding programmes. Her internship with the Conservation Ecology Centre will not only provide Erin with the amazing opportunity to live in such a beautiful part of the world, but it will also enhance her field and research skills and increase her knowledge of the conservation challenges in the Otways.

Hannah Kilen

2018 Intern

Hannah grew up in Perth and has always been interested in nature and the environment. She studied Conservation Biology and Zoology at the University of Western Australia and completed Honours in 2015. The Honours project explored the function of the Southern Brown Bandicoot as an ecosystem engineer on the Swan Coastal Plain. Bandicoots are important agents of soil turnover/biopedturbation. Hannah found the effect of their diggings differed slightly in different habitat types, and that their diggings could potentially play an important role in post-fire environments. Since finishing university, Hannah has been working at Perth Zoo in the native species breeding program, breeding threatened native species for release back into wild habitats. She also takes part in conservation volunteer projects whenever possible, most regularly assisting in fauna monitoring and revegetation projects on Rottnest Island. Hannah says the Otways seem like such an incredible environment to be able to work in and during the internship she’s looking forward to building on her knowledge of wildlife monitoring and research, and developing her skills with a whole new range of species.

Lauren Halstead

2018 Intern

Growing up near the Mornington Peninsula, Lauren spent a lot of time outdoors and this is where her love for nature began. She completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science with honours at Deakin University. Her honours project focused on the ecosystem engineering potential of the Victorian subspecies of Eastern Barred Bandicoots, a species that is extinct in the wild. Completing this project has sparked Lauren’s interest in the role digging mammals play in restoring ecosystem function, an area she hopes to assist with further research. Lauren has volunteered on many research/conservation projects, both locally and internationally, which have helped her develop skills in various wildlife monitoring techniques. The Conservation Ecology Centre provides Lauren with the opportunity to further enhance these skills and gain a range of new ones.

Giselle Owens

2018 Intern

Giselle first connected with the Conservation Ecology Centre as a park ranger in the Eastern Otways.  Giselle studied Wildife & Conservation Biology (B.Sc) at La Trobe University and has worked in National Parks across Victoria since 2012. Passion for the environment and its conservation drives Giselle and motivated her to pursue a career as an ecologist. She has garnered an array of ecological field skills both as a ranger and as a research assistant/volunteer on various projects including: a bird-study in the Brazilian Amazon assessing the abundance of bird species on the edge of deforestation, the Mountain Pygmy Possum recovery project in the Victorian Alps, seagrass monitoring and marine invasive species surveys in Corner Inlet, and mist-netting migratory birds in Alaska. Following her internship with CEC, Giselle intends to complete a Masters of Environment (University of Melbourne) and work on ecological projects in Australia focussing on habitat protection, threatened species recovery and feral animal management.

Sarah Leeson

Intern 2017

Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoology at the University of Western Australia in 2016. She has spent the past year volunteering with a variety of conservation organisations around Australia, before joining the Conservation Ecology Centre as an intern. Having grown up in Western Australia, the cool temperate rainforest of Cape Otway presents a beautiful change of scenery, a variety of new species, and a definite drop in temperature. For Sarah, joining the Conservation Ecology Centre is an exciting opportunity to develop new skills, work in a stunning landscape, and gain an understanding of the conservation issues facing the Otways. Sarah has a keen interest in conservation genetics, and hopes to pursue a career in research following her time at the Conservation Ecology Centre.


Sam Fischer

Intern 2017

Growing up on a property in the Flinders Ranges, Sam has developed a great respect for the Australian landscape and its unique flora and fauna. Since completing a Bachelor of Science with the University of Adelaide, Sam has travelled the county, working alongside conservation groups such as Arid Recovery and Australian Wildlife Conservancy, assisting in research projects with the University of Adelaide UNSW, and promoting the natural world as a tour guide. These opportunities have provided Sam with a wide range of field skills, including radio-tracking, trapping, fitting radio collars, remote camera monitoring, vegetation surveying and a keen eye for species identification. Sam has a passion for threatened species recovery, reintroduction ecology, animal behaviour, and scientific communication.


Shelley Thompson

Intern 2017

Shelley grew up in Mildura, in the Mallee region and gained her love of Australian flora and fauna from her time spent wandering about the bush. She studied a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behaviour at Flinders University. In 2016, she conducted her honours project on the Gidgee Skink, exploring the role of chemical social signalling in habitat selection and how family members can recognise each other thought their scats. In 2017 Shelley worked for a landcare consultant where she conducted fox baiting programs and rabbit impact assessments to help restore regenerating habitat areas. Shelley is currently working as an intern with the Conservation Ecology Centre. She is assisting with our annual koala surveys, and the collection of camera traps for fox baiting impact assessments, associated with the Otway Ark project. Shelley is eager to pursue her career in ecological research and conservation following her time with CEC.

Asitha Samarawickrama

Intern 2017

Asitha is an Environmental Science graduate of the University of Melbourne. He has worked as a consultant and ranger prior to joining the Conservation Ecology Centre. Asitha is also the State Coordinator for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots Program in Victoria. In this role he visits schools, giving presentations on conservation campaigns, empowering youth to create positive change for our environment and attending forums and seminars. He loves the variety of work at the CEC, and how each day is different. In his spare time he likes to spend time outdoors and play sport. Originally from Sri Lanka, one of Asitha’s long term goals is to find solutions to human-elephant conflict in his motherland.


Emma Birnbaum

Intern 2017

Emma completed a Bachelor of Conservation Biology and Ecology, from La Trobe University. She then went on to complete her honours project on the abiotic effects of jumping in Jack Jumper ants. Since completing her studies, Emma has continued to broaden her skill set and knowledge through volunteering on a wide variety of projects both in Australia and overseas. Her past few years were spent living in Europe, and whilst the travel and change served her well, the lure of an internship at the Conservation Ecology Centre was more than enough to bring her back to Australia and her beloved Otways. Emma now feels her challenges and future lie at home where she would like to continue working in research and conservation within Australia, and more specifically, the Otway region.

Madeline Brenker

Intern 2016

Madeline has completed a Master of Science with a major in Botany in 2014 at the University of Melbourne, following a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology and Environmental Biology in 2012. Enamoured post-studies and from volunteering, Madeline worked as a research assistant and ecologist undertaking mammal population viability analyses, surveying from the Alpine high plains to temperate rainforest and arid scrub, in SE Australia marine research, blue carbon management and planning Green-infrastructure to combat sea level rise. During her CEC internship, she supported the Otways Conservation Dog deployments, built bird-song recognisers, analysed floristic community-dynamics and undertook rare orchid sampling, post-fire vegetation surveys, animal husbandry, and weed management. Continuing her conservation and ecological research Madeline hopes to travel the world and work towards a more sustainable future.

Jarrad Barnes

Intern 2016

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in 2009, Jarrad spent five months on a conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon, giving him hands-on experience with handling and rehabilitating rainforest wildlife. This encouraged him to pursue a degree in Biodiversity and Conservation from Macquarie University, during which time he worked as a reptile husbandry volunteer, research assistant on a floodplain ecology project, and ran an undergraduate project assessing the recolonisation of the university campus by small forest birds. Since completing this degree in 2015 Jarrad has worked as an ecologist in western NSW, and radio tracking bandicoots for a reintroduction project in Jervis Bay. Following his CEC internship Jarrad hopes to become involved with mammal management and reintroduction programs both in Australia and around the world.