North American Bear Center Internship Program

Our internship program is like no other!

Are you interested in learning about bears, caring for captive wildlife, or educating others about nature with real hands-on experience? Our internship program is ideal for undergraduate and graduate students exploring careers in wildlife biology, zoology, environmental sciences, ecology, wildlife management, and animal behavior.

Summer and Fall internships include housing and a stipend.

The North American Bear Center’s internship program is designed to give you practical experience in captive wildlife care, large and small animal husbandry experience, educating different age groups, and public speaking. Since all these factors are essential in today’s wildlife and natural resources careers, you will be learning relevant information and methods that will enhance your resume and prepare you for a future career in the field. Many natural resource related bachelor degree programs require an internship as part of their completion, we are also happy to work with your college to get you credits for your hard work.

 “The mission of the non-profit North American Bear Center is to advance the long-term survival of bears worldwide by replacing misconceptions with scientific facts about bears, their role in ecosystems, and their relations with humans.”

As an intern, you would be directly involved with all aspects of bear care including: feeding, meal preparation, data logging, animal enrichment, cleaning, enclosure maintenance, behavioral observation, and much more. In addition, you will be essential to helping fulfill our mission of replacing myths with scientific facts by leading tours, conducting programs, and educating our guests. Understanding black bears and how to properly manage them requires knowledge of the world around them;  our Northwoods Ecology Hall is dedicated to all the other wildlife in the northern Minnesota region. As an intern, you would be involved in all aspects of care for our smaller display animals such as frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders, fish and more.

The center is located in Ely, Minnesota right on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and Superior National Forest. The BWCAW encompasses over one million acres of pristine wilderness, which is why it  one of  the most visited wilderness areas in the entire nation and is readily accessible to our interns since it is Ely’s backyard. Superior National Forest offers an additional two million acres of woods and water to explore and recreate. This area is not only a great location to study black bears, but also supports endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. There is no shortage of hiking, camping, biking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, climbing, boating, fishing, and much more.

Here is what some of our interns had to say about their experience at the North American Bear Center.

Working at the North American Bear Center was the first step I took towards accomplishing my academic and career goals, and it exceeded every one of my expectations. My responsibilities as a Bear Educator Intern were more comprehensive than I anticipated. Not only did I gain hundreds of hours of hands-on experience with animal care and maintenance, but I also greatly improved my skills in public-speaking, teamwork, and adaptability, which are transferable to any career choice. Furthermore, the staff at the NABC had a huge impact on me and my overall experience working there. The staff members at the NABC were always supportive, patient, and willing to answer my endless questions. Interning at the NABC was challenging in the best kind of way, and I feel as though it has prepared me for a career in my field, or even other internships, in a way that former schooling could not.  Lydia from Rhode Island, 2020 Intern


Working at the North American Bear Center was such a privilege. I have gained a lot of experiences there that have helped me professionally and personally. Without a doubt, I would recommend this internship to anyone wanting to work in the field of animals, research, or education. It was such an honor to work alongside the senior bear keeper Sharon and to be a part of Dr. Lynn Rogers message/project. The staff was very professional and personal, I enjoyed working alongside with everyone there. The training is very professional, and I always felt safe working with the bears. I have learned so much about black bears, how to take care of them, and how to educate the public about them. If I could, I would do this internship again.  Tatum from Michigan, 2020 Intern


Working at the North American Bear Center was absolutely a life changing experience for me! After taking interpretation classes at Iowa State, this internship allowed me to put class experience to work. It was also fantastic to develop public speaking and teamwork skills to educate the public about Black Bears. Working with the bears themselves was a once in a lifetime experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world! Derek from Iowa, 2019 Intern

Spend a summer or fall with us in northern Minnesota and see how our internship program sets you up for future success, while giving you an experience of a lifetime.

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