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Natural Heritage Graduate Student Residency Program Frequently Asked Questions

​​Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the Natural Heritage Graduate Student Residency.

FAQ Index


    Q: Do I need to be an Illinois resident?

     The applicant should be an Illinois resident or attending an Illinois university.

    Q: What is the process for applying? What is the process for applying?

    When the positions and application period is posted and on the website, an invitation/announcement to participate is also sent to Illinois universities with known plant, animal, and related environmental science graduate programs. Some out-of-state universities will also be contact due to prior interest.

    Check with the Chair of your college program or your graduate advisor to see if they have received this announcement and if they would like their university to participate in the program. If they have not received the information, please send their name and email to the Natural Heritage Contact, Maggie Cole, 2050 W. Stearns Road, Bartlett, IL 60103.

    If the university agrees to participate, only 6 students may be recommended for the program. The student is responsible for getting approval from the College Chair and creating their own application packet. An Application Packet must contain: a Cover letter, a Resume or CV, Grade transcripts from all graduate and undergraduate institutions attended, a completed State of Illinois CMS-100 Employment Application and a favorable letter from your major advisor/College Chair supporting your application to the DNR Program. See the website for further information.

    The application packet should be sent to Carrie Rapp, Office of Resource Conservation, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271.

    Q: What is the name or title of the position I should use in the CMS-100 Application?

    The title on the CMS posting is Student Intern. 

    Q: How should I decide to prioritize the counties on the application?

    This is entirely up to you. Some students may only want to apply for one county and others may want to apply for two. Individuals will prioritize the counties based upon expenses and will try to remain close to existing living quarters, some want to be where their graduate work will directly benefit, and others want a new experience altogether.

    Q: Is a thesis required?

    Enrollment in an approved graduate program in plant, animal or related environmental science graduate program is required. Students close to graduation in their final year are best prepared for the program. Students often delay graduation to become an Intern for 12 months but they must remain enrolled.

    Q: I understand that I must be currently enrolled to apply for a Residency. Do I need to be enrolled the entire 12 months or can I graduate during the Residency?

    In order to be qualified under the State of Illinois job title for this program, the Resident must remain enrolled in graduate school throughout the term of employment.

    Q: Do I need to wait until the end of my graduate career to apply for a Residency position?

    Experience has shown that students nearing the end of their graduate program are best suited for the residency program, although this is not an IL DNR requirement. If you have your advisor’s approval to participate in the 12-month program, we will consider your application equally with all others regardless of where you are in your graduate career.

    Q: Why must I relocate to within 30 miles of the office location?

    For purposes of using a state vehicle, State of Illinois policy requires all such staff to live within a 30 mile radius of their office location.

    Q: During the Residency, are there opportunities to work or interact with other IL DNR divisions or programs?

    While a Resident can expect to spend the vast majority of their time with the Division of Natural Heritage and/or Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, there will be opportunities to learn about and interact with other DNR divisions and staff. These opportunities are varied by position location as well as currently ongoing projects.

    Q: What is a typical day in the life of a Resident?

    Honestly, there is no “typical day”. If you are an individual who thrives on diversity, loves new challenges, and is looking for the widest possible set of experiences, you will not be disappointed by your tenure.

    Q: Can I continue to work on my graduate research while I am a Resident?

    The Natural Heritage Graduate Student Residency is a 12-month, full-time position. You may work on your graduate research, thesis, or other college/university project while a Resident, but you must do so on your own time or your paid time off.

    Q: How do I submit a question that is not here?

    Send an email to “Contact Us” and we will get back to you. Be sure to include your phone number and name of the university you are attending.

     Natural Heritage Graduate Student Residency