North American Bear Center Internship Program

Our internship programs are like no other!

We offer two unique intern experiences, Bear Educator and Northwoods Ecology Educator internships.

Are you interested in learning about bears, caring for captive wildlife, or educating others about nature with real hands-on experience? Then our Bear Educator internship might be for you. If your interests lie in caring for and educating the public about small critters, ecology, flora and fauna, then our Northwoods Ecology Educator might be a good fit for you.

Bear Educator internships are available in both summer and fall. The Northwood Ecology Educator internship is a summer only position.

Our internship programs are 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 bachelor’s degree programs in the natural resources field require students to complete an internship as part of their curriculum, and we are happy to work with your college to fulfill that credit requirement.

Not only will you learn about our center, work with some amazing animals in your care, but you will build new friendships, meet people from around the country, and work in a fun environment.

“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.”

Our Bear Educator interns are 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 interns will be working with small animals, managing all aspects of their care, conducting programs and educating the public about many of the animals that share black bear habitats. Some of these animals include 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 and is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the entire nation. The BWCAW is readily accessible to our interns since it is in 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 and other animals, 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.

Going to work as an intern at the North American Bear Center was an absolute pleasure. Learning about bears and ecology first hand was an invaluable experience that I certainly will never forget. I learned so much about animal behavior, ecology, animal care, public speaking, and education from some incredible staff, and of course from the bears themselves. Everyday was a new opportunity not only to learn, but to allow visitors to learn and spread the mission of the bear center. Beyond this, I made some incredible friends and memories, and I will always look back on this valuable experience with so much appreciation.  Carly from Minnesota, 2022 Intern


Getting to work as a bear educator intern was undoubtedly the highlight of my college career. It’s hard to sum up everything I was able to take away from this experience, but the best word that comes to mind is eye-opening. Working with the bears, getting to know each of them, and observing them up close was truly a privilege. In addition to caring for the bears, I also got to learn so much about the local ecology. I’m not from Minnesota, and something I learned is that if you spend your whole life in one place, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision. Getting to see a new environment with different species than I knew was life-changing. This internship helped me realize what I want to do with my career moving forward. As well as experience in animal care and public education, I gained a summer of unforgettable memories and friendships. I would highly recommend this internship program to anyone that seeks to gain hands-on experience with wildlife-you won’t regret it. Alyssa from Pennsylvania, 2022 Intern



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



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.

Learn more about our Bear Educator internship program:

Learn more about our Northwoods Ecology internship program:

To submit an application for either position:

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