Employment Opportunities

American Kestrel Project, Prey Abundance Technician

The project:

The Clifton Institute, in partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), launched a research program in 2021 to investigate habitat selection of American Kestrels in northern Virginia. We tagged 61 kestrels with GPS transmitters and learned that they prefer cattle pastures for hunting, but they also use other habitats, and that their usage of different habitats changes through the season. In 2024 we will measure the abundance of kestrel prey in cattle pastures, hay fields, and native meadows, with the goal of better understanding their requirements. We will use our results to inform farmers and other landowners how they can manage their land to benefit kestrels and other declining species.

TERM: This is a 4.5 month position beginning as soon as the selected candidate is available and ending 18 weeks later.

DUTIES: 1) set up arrays of track pads to measure small mammal abundance, 2) do transect surveys for insects, 3) enter and analyze data, 4) prepare an early draft of a manuscript for publication, 5) other duties as assigned.  We expect about 80% of this position to be field-based.

BENEFITS: The successful applicant may expect to receive:  $1,567 per month, free basic housing and utilities, and reimbursement for mileage driven on their personal vehicle for fieldwork ($0.625 per mile/current federal rate).

REQUIRED SKILLS/EXPERIENCE: 1. Strong interest in wildlife and applied conservation 2. Demonstrated ability to work in challenging field conditions. The job will involve long days, 90+ degree heat, high humidity, thick thorny undergrowth, ticks and chiggers, and hiking off trail. 3. Excellent organization skills and strong attention to detail. 4. Comfort with Microsoft Windows, Excel, and Google Sheets which will be used for data entry. 5. Excellent communication skills, and professionalism when working with people from different backgrounds. 6. Ability to work independently but an interest and excitement to collaborate with team members. The position will involve close work with additional project interns and students. 7. Valid US Driver’s License and ability to use personal vehicle for travel among study sites. 8. Must be authorized to work in the United States without sponsorship. 9. Vaccination against COVID-19 required.

PREFERRED SKILLS/EXPERIENCE 1. Data analysis in R 2. Scientific writing

TO APPLY: Please send the following materials in an email to jobs@cliftoninstitute.org. Send your materials as a single PDF, with your last name and “Prey Abundance” in the file name and subject line of the email (VERY IMPORTANT). 1. A 1-page cover letter 2. A brief resume/CV. We much prefer to read a cover letter about how this position fits in with your interests and goals rather than a letter trying to convince us of your qualifications.

Nature Camp Educator

Term: July 8-19th*, 2024 plus a paid training day earlier in the summer (date TBD)

Times: Approximately 8:30AM – 4:30PM, M-F (varies day to day)

Description:  The Clifton Institute seeks Nature Camp Educators to assist with 2 weeks of Young Naturalists Camp.  This is an all-outdoors day-camp for 7-12 year olds, with a heavy emphasis on the ecology of the Piedmont.  This position involves working on a 6-person education team, 3 of whom are year-round Clifton staff, to manage a group of 25 campers.  

Each week of camp has an overarching theme–insects and plants–and each day of the week focuses on some element of that theme.  For example, during Plant Week we may spend a morning workshop doing a deep dive on ferns.  A Clifton staff member is responsible for teaching the morning workshop, which is followed by a hike in two smaller groups to expand on something from the morning workshop.  After eating a picnic lunch, campers sign up for their choice of 1 of 3 offered afternoon activities, which are different each day and led by any interested staff member. Example afternoon activities include hiking as pretend raccoons, a specialized class on beetle identification, or making puppets of native flowers. The day closes by splitting into 6 small groups for Nature Journaling.  

We are a small and flexible staff who hope to provide not only a safe and fun space for campers, but also a place for educators to hone their skills, learn from each other, and get creative.

*For an applicant who has some background in research and/or field work, we are also looking for help with our Young Scientists Research Experience from June 24-28th.  If interested, we could likely stretch this position to go from June 24th-July 19th.  

Ideal Qualifications:

  • Experience leading or participating in ecological research
  • Familiarity with the natural history of the Piedmont region and/or a strong interest in learning

Essential Qualifications:

  • Experience working with children in an outdoor setting
  • CPR/First Aid certified or willing to become certified before the start of camp (will be reimbursed for cost)
  • Able to move over uneven terrain for up to 2 hours at a time in summer heat and humidity
  • Over 18 


  • Working with other camp staff members to plan and coordinate camp events
  • Leading and supporting campers as they participate in age-appropriate activities
  • Monitoring campers to ensure compliance with camp rules and prevent accidents
  • Cleaning, maintaining and ensuring proper use of camp facilities and equipment
  • Participating in staff training and follow-up evaluation meetings

Salary and benefits:

  • $450 per week for 1st time staff, going up $50/week for each return year (up to $600/week); paid twice, by check, at the end of each week of camp
  • $90 for day of training (date early June or July, TBD)

Deadline for Application:

  • Monday, March 15th 2024

How to apply:

Please send applications to jobs@cliftoninstitute.org. Please include a resume and a short cover letter to the Clifton education team describing your interest in working at the Clifton Institute. We much prefer to read a cover letter about how this position fits in with your interests and goals rather than a letter trying to convince us of your qualifications. Please submit your documents in a single pdf file. Please also provide the names and email addresses of at least two references in the body of your email. Applications will be reviewed after applications close. We will contact you if we would like to schedule an interview at that time.

In the administration of its employment policies and practices, The Clifton Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, age, personal appearance, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status, matriculation, political affiliation or genetic information.

Updated 17 April 2024