Field Research Assistant – Terns & Plovers – California


Our Terns and Plovers team in Recovery Ecology conducts research, monitoring and applied management to aid the recovery of endangered California least terns and threatened Western snowy plovers at important coastal sites in San Diego County. Field Research Assistants will work with the team to monitor the status and reproductive success of these two species. Work will include implementing field methods and assisting with research projects, logistics, outreach, site maintenance, data collection, and program support components. Work will be conducted primarily in the field, with some occasional work at other sites, at the Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo, and at other facilities. Schedules may need to change with short notice and may begin as early as 6 am or end at dusk based on our monitoring needs for the species.

The Field Research Assistant will work 40 hours per week on average during the peak nesting seasons. During some weeks however, Assistants will work less than 40 hours and during peak breeding season assistants may work as much as six days a week and more than 40 hours (with overtime compensation). Hours might include some weekends. Interested applicants should expect to arrange their own housing. Positions are seasonal and will last approximately 4 to 5.5 months. Start dates are late March or early April. A commitment until early July is required as a minimum. Our field sites are not remote but native habitat is present, and Assistants should expect field conditions that include cold or hot weather conditions, some bugs, muddy sites, awareness of environmental hazards (rattlesnakes, some vegetation with thorns or thick brush, and insects), and walking miles of beach habitat each day. Basic safety training will be provided. This position requires successful completion of physical ability test.

A combined cover letter and résumé for this position is highly recommended. The cover letter/résumé should specifically address qualifications for this position and can be uploaded during the application process. More details in application link.


Self-motivated and able to work well independently and as part of a field crew

Take direction well and follow detailed protocols with high attention to detail

Interact positively and respectfully with members of the public, military personnel

Work with discretion to collect and analyze confidential and sensitive data

Physically fit to engage in long periods of fieldwork under variable environmental conditions (walking many miles per day in soft sand, heat, and changeable weather)

Flexibility and willingness to work at other study sites as required

Field experience with terns and/or plovers

Bird banding and handling experience

Experience resighting color banded birds

Experience working on military instillations and/or public lands

Experience with electronic data entry systems

Proficiency at identifying local bird species and potential avian and mammalian predators (including evidence of predators)


At least one year of field experience, ideally working with shorebirds and/or seabirds

At least one year of experience working with a conservation or environmental organization


Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences or related field Valid California driver license in good standing