Natural Resource and Park Management Research Program

Natural Resource and Park Management Research Program

Memorial Park Conservancy’s Research Program, supported by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, builds relationships between Masters/Undergraduate students and Memorial Park staff to inform ecological restoration, conservation, and maintenance decision making. MPC’s goal is to bring academic skills and resources to Memorial Park, benefiting all Houstonians.

The Natural Resource Research Program interns will focus on real-world operations, maintenance, and program development experiences that bridge research and practical application. The primary focus of the program is on the ecological restoration and natural resource management associated with the Memorial Park Master Plan implementation and day-to-day care of the urban wilderness park.

Objectives for each student include production of meaningful data sets, review of and input on developing reliable and systematic methodological designs, and producing relevant manuals, lab notebooks, reports, videos, and presentation materials. Specific research projects are flexible and will be matched to each student to ensure successful experiences. Potential projects are listed below.

Interns work directly with the Conservation Director and staff. Interns also shadow relevant operations and grounds maintenance staff and work with them, as needed.

Priority will be given to full-time, 10-week, paid internships in the summer 2020. Interns spend 20% time in operations and park management, 20% time shadowing Conservancy staff, and 60% time on research projects. Interns will complete weekly reports on research progress and develop a written report and compendium of data, maps, etc. They will also make a formal presentation at the end of the summer. Internships may be extended to Fall and Spring semesters; students may apply for part-time internships during which students work 10 – 20 hours per week.

2020 Student Research Categories:

  • GIS and Remote Sensing (led by Matthew Jackson)
  • Native Prairie and Grasslands (led by Jacob Smith and Eric Hollenbeck)
  • Wetlands and Water Quality (led by Courtney Hall)

Possible Projects Include:

  • Develop and pilot test geocoded, photo mapping methodologies to time stamp and monitor key ecological restoration and cultural heritage views in Memorial Park
  • Conduct wetlands surveys throughout Memorial Park, mapping remote flat woods, wetland areas
  • Develop protocol and sampling plan for stormwater quality monitoring
  • Develop methods for calculating and measuring runoff coefficients for land cover types within Memorial Park
  • Conduct biodiversity study of remnant and restored native gulf coast prairie within Memorial Park
  • Research potential for controlling non-native, invasive species through soil biological amendments

Program Timeline:

  • For consideration, please apply by March 15, 2020
  • Interviews will occur April 8 and 10,2020
  • Summer Intern program: May 26 –July 31, 2020
  • Research Presentation Workshop: July 31, 2020

Who Should Apply:

   Undergraduate and Master’s students studying:

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Environmental Planning
  • GIS
  • Forestry/ Urban Forestry
  • Biology/Botany
  • Wildlife and Fisheries
  • Soil
  • Stormwater Engineering
  • Biodiversity and Ecology
  • Watershed Management

Interns should:

  • Have ability and willingness to work outdoors in a variety of weather circumstances.
  • Have ability to lift 50 pounds.
  • Have a basic understanding or interest in the urban natural environment.
  • Have writing, research, and technology skills.
  • Have the ability to engage in problem solving and work independently and as part of teams.
  • Contribute at least two key project specific skills such as:
    • GIS, GPS, Drone
    • Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint,
    • Knowledge of plants, trees, wildlife, soils, etc.
    • Photography skills
    • Data collection and analysis experience.
    • Other relevant project skills.

Three (3) Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Interns will be selected.

Interested candidates should send a (a) letter of interest addressing your skills, level of interest, and potential contributions, (b) your resume, and (c) three (3) references electronically to Carolyn White, Conservation Director, at