Science Volunteer, Palmyra Program

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Palmyra Atoll, USA



The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Grounded in science, we develop innovative solutions to the world’s toughest environmental challenges so that people and nature can thrive. Our work is guided by our values, which include a commitment to diversity; respect for people, communities, and cultures; and a collaborative, bipartisan approach. Thanks to more than 1 million members, over 400 scientists, and the dedicated efforts of our staff and partners, we impact conservation around the world.

Want to help save the planet? Through the efforts of The Nature Conservancy more than 200,000 acres in Hawai‘i and Palmyra Atoll have been preserved for nature and people. We manage 40,000 acres in 13 nature preserves and work in over 50 coastal communities to help protect and restore the nearshore reefs and fisheries of the main Hawaiian Islands. We forge partnerships with government, private parties, and communities to protect the forests and coral reefs that make our islands unique for their ecological values and for the many benefits they provide to people. This is an exceptional career opportunity for a highly motivated, capable individual interested in joining the world’s leading conservation organization!


Located 1,000 miles south of Hawai‘i, TNC’s Palmyra Preserve is located in the middle of one of the most spectacular marine wilderness areas on Earth. Palmyra Atoll has 580 acres of emergent land with 480,000 acres of lagoons, coral reefs, and submerged lands and is a US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wildlife Refuge out to 12 nautical miles from shore and a Marine National Monument out to 50 miles. The Nature Conservancy owns and cares for 230 acres of land and manages this property in partnership with the USFWS. TNC maintains wildlife habitat and owns and operates a conservation research station on the preserve focused on ecosystem adaptation and resilience to climate change.

Established in 2019, the Climate Adaptation and Resilience Laboratory (CARL) at Palmyra focuses on three key strategies for investigating actionable solutions to the increasing effects of climate change: coral reef restoration, pelagic ecosystem protection, and conservation of island ecosystems.

The Conservation Science Volunteer is responsible for aiding scientific studies and conservation initiatives led by TNC, USFWS, and/or our research partners. This position will be remotely supervised by the Palmyra Island Conservation Strategy Lead; therefore, volunteers must be able to operate safely with minimal guidance. Tasking priorities will be discussed with the Island Conservation Strategy Lead on a weekly basis. Daily, weekly, and monthly tasking varies according to the needs of priority conservation science projects, which may include native plant establishment and monitoring, invasive species control, seabird and shorebird monitoring tasks, insect monitoring and collection, and many other varied conservation science activities. Regular tasking also includes equipment and facilities maintenance, lab operations, data management, and reporting. Occasionally, volunteers may be asked to participate in community-based functions including, but not limited to, supporting philanthropy trips, presenting or demonstrating key conservation science projects to visitors, or assisting alternate roles.

Seasonal Conservation Science Volunteers are recruited for six-month assignments to support the conservation science and management projects that are a part of CARL. The duration of this term of service may be amended for safety purposes – volunteers will be notified and supported by TNC if any such decision is made. Volunteers will work six 8-hour days with one day off per week, in hot, humid, and/or wet weather, on difficult and hazardous terrain, and under physically demanding circumstances. These conditions will involve considerable physical exertion and/or muscular strain, frequent possibility of injury, long hours in isolated settings, exposure to chemicals (e.g. herbicide), contaminants (e.g. WW2-era fuel), and hazards (e.g. rusted metal from WW2-era equipment).

Volunteers must possess (or be able to obtain) a valid passport and, if applicable, the appropriate visa and/or work permit for working in the US with an expiration date at least one month later than the term of the assignment. Additionally, all volunteers must provide evidence of a physical examination, current tetanus vaccination, and health insurance. Volunteers must possess (or be able to obtain) a valid First Aid and CPR certification before the start of the volunteer term.


We’re looking for an individual with experience in scientific studies and established scientific protocols to join the Hawaii Chapter’s Palmyra Program. If you are eager to be part of a dedicated group that supports climate change and conservation of island systems, apply today!


  • High school diploma/GED and 1 year of college-level coursework in biological sciences, conservation science, or natural resource management, -OR- equivalent combination of education and relevant work experience.
  • Experience with scientific studies and following established scientific protocols, including recording, entering, and organizing observation-based data.
  • Experience living and/or working in remote environments or small communities.
  • Experience performing work that requires physical mobility in a hot, humid, wet, and salty environment, and ability to lift up to 50 pounds.
  • Experience with waterfront comfort and safety, specifically regarding swimming, recreating, and navigating in open water.
  • Experience with MS Office and associated programs, notably Word and Excel.


Each person who works at TNC contributes to our goal of protecting nature for future generations. Another one of TNC’s primary goals is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that employees around the globe feel that their unique contributions are valued. We know we’ll only achieve our mission by hiring and engaging a diverse staff that reflects the communities in which we work. We consider life experience in addition to the professional requirements listed in our postings. To quote a popular saying at TNC, “You’ll join for the mission, and you’ll stay for the people.” To learn more, head to YouTube to hear stories from staff or visit Glassdoor.

TNC will provide up to $900 of travel costs from the volunteer’s home to Honolulu as well as up to three nights stay at a TNC-selected hotel in Honolulu. During the week prior to traveling to Palmyra, volunteers will participate in orientation trainings in Honolulu or virtually that give an overview of TNC’s mission, values, and Code of Conduct, and of the Palmyra Program, including CARL. TNC will provide round-trip travel to Palmyra from Honolulu, board and lodging at Palmyra, and key supplies and equipment for the six-month volunteer term at Palmyra. TNC also provides remote medical coverage for non-emergency physician and emergency evacuation insurance for all staff and volunteers at Palmyra.

If you’re interested in working with us, please apply—we’d love to hear from you.


To apply for job ID 52489, submit your materials (resume and cover letter) online by using the Apply Now button at by 5:59 PM HST through December 29, 2023. Your application must clearly indicate how you meet or exceed all six of the minimum qualifications presented. Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact If you have any questions about this position, please contact the Palmyra Science Coordinator, Dana Sabine, at

Do you have military experience? Visit our U.S. Military Skills Translator to match your military experience with our current job openings!

TNC is committed to offering accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application process. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please send a note to with Request for Accommodation in the subject line.

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people with diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority, and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientations, gender identities, military or veteran status or other status protected by law. The Nature Conservancy is also a “big tent” organization. We believe that all people benefit from conservation and that the cause should be inclusive of everyone regardless of their political persuasion. We work hard to make conservation a non-partisan issue through partnerships with stakeholders, elected officials, and industries that span the political spectrum.