Graduate Student Residency Program

 Important Information

​Program Goal

The goal of the IL DNR Natural Heritage Graduate Student Residency Program is to partner with regional college and university graduate schools, to provide Residents with a wide variety of skills complementing their academic training and improving their qualifications and experiences for entry into the professional natural resources job market.

Residents are an essential part of IDNR's effort to identify, protect, steward, and defend Illinois' natural heritage.  Residents enable the division to significantly further its mission beyond the capacity of regular staff.  Resident contributions improve the status of Illinois' natural heritage. 

Program Description

IL DNR Natural Heritage Graduate Student Residency Program provides full-time, 12-month employment with IDNR's Division of Natural Heritage and/or the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission for qualified and currently enrolled graduate students. 

Most Residents mentor under field-based staff of the above organizations and develop skills and knowledge in natural areas identification, protection, stewardship and defense, as well as conservation of rare resources (e.g. E & T species).  These positions are located in field offices throughout the state.

On occasion, there are Residency positions in our agency's headquarters in Springfield, IL.  While these Residents will also be provided some on-the-ground experiences with field-based staff, they will mentor under staff having state-wide responsibilities for program development, policy, and implementation. While specific activities and processes can vary somewhat depending on the location, all Residents can be expected to gain an unprecedented level of meaningful work experience.

For the duration of the Residency, a successful applicant is treated as a State of Illinois employee and is provided benefits (e.g. insurance, retirement, paid time off) and reimbursement for all allowed expenses (e.g. related travel costs).

While many past Residents have obtained future employment with the IDNR or other state agencies (see Current and Past Residents ), there is no obligation on the part of the state, including IL DNR, to hire a Resident on a permanent basis after completion of the program.

Residency positions are posted on an as needed/irregular basis and the number of positions available at any time is dependent on state appropriations.  Selection processes are governed by state policy and procedures.  See Apply for a Position for up-to-date listings.

What Residents do

Residents are expected to participate in a wide variety of field- and office-based activities that promote the conservation of natural areas and rare resources, especially the coordination and implementation of management plan objectives and stewardship actions.  Those activities include but are not limited to:

  • Control of exotic and invasive species with a variety of techniques including herbicides
  • Identification and evaluation of natural communities and natural areas
  • Participation in prescribed burns to manage natural areas and restorations
  • Biological surveys and inventories and the analysis of collected data, including GPS and GIS.
  • Educational events for other professionals and the interested public
  • Preparation of technical reports and documents, including background reference searches, to protect, manage and/or defend natural areas and rare resources
  • Provide assistance to the public and private sectors in natural areas preservation, endangered species protection, and rare resource stewardship
  • Become familiar with Illinois' natural resources' law, policies and procedures