University News

Pioneering Intern Co-op Leads Students Outside

August 20, 2014
Author: Jessica Young
Category: Community Outreach

Dillon Monroe in Dixie National Forest as an intern through SUU's IIC It all began seven years ago with a well-worn notion, students do better when actually tested in their field of study and so began Southern Utah University’s Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC).

First enlisting only 40 students as interns with land management agencies in southern Utah, northern Arizona and eastern Nevada in 2007, the program has now blossomed. In the past seven years 750 plus students have been placed in highly sought after internships through the IIC, where they have been able to act as park guides, range technicians, accountants, engineers and geographic information system specialists.

For students the IIC isn’t just an excuse to spend their summer in the mountains, but is actually a chance to receive relevant, meaningful work experience leading to career opportunities while serving the needs of the state and federal lands and resource management agencies in the region, a win-win for both sides according to Seth Ohms, IIC internship coordinator.

He said, “The agencies have the chance to show the proverbial ropes to the students so they can soon join their workforce full-time. But it’s also a win for the University because of its prime location and brings highly competitive paid internships to our student body.”

One of those students was Dillon Monroe, a recently graduated biology/zoology major who completed his third internship through the IIC, this summer he was with the Dixie National Forest as a bio science technician.

Monroe said of these experiences, “These internships gave me the ability to work with the different land agencies, which helped me decide what I wanted to do with my career. This internship was the best thing I could do.”

The IIC has been a great resource to the University’s burgeoning undergraduate program in Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism (ORPT), offering premier internships for a broad range of public land agencies. But it’s not just the ORPT students who are benefiting from this partnership.  

Paul Roelandt, superintendent for Cedar Breaks National Monument, explained that students from all programs and majors are welcome to do internships because every public land agencies needs more than park rangers.

“We need accountants, businessmen, artists and marketers to have these agencies run smoothly,” Roelandt said. “It’s not all working in the trees. Students can get paid internships that exposes them to opportunities that fuel their passion.”

Since it’s inauguration, the IIC alongside SUU has been highly effective, and Ohms attributes that to SUU's uniquely situated location amongst some of the world’s most beautiful scenery.

It’s not just Ohms thinking that, in January 2014 the IIC was recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior and received the Secretary’s Partners in Conservation Award for the outstanding conservation results achieved through collaboration and partnering.

The IIC has been able to partner with the following organization since it’s creation, which include: Bureau of Land Management’s Color Country District, Arizona Strip District and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; National Park Service’s Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Pipe Spring National Monument, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and Great Basin National Park; U.S. Forest Service’s Dixie National Forest and Kaibab National Forest; Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah; and Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians; Bureau of Indian Affairs Southern Paiute Agency; Natural Resources  Conservation Services’ Cedar City Office; Utah Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Recreation – Southwest Region, and Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands – Southwest Region. 

Photo Credit: Jens Swensen (fisheries technician) and Dillon Monroe (bio science technician) with the Dixie National Forest, both 2014 graduates. (Photo by Shawn Domgaard)

SUU.edu news graphic: Joanna Durfee, sophomore studying biology, in Cedar Break National Monument as a park guide. (Photo by Shawn Domgaard)



Contact Information:
Jennifer Burt
435-586-1997
burt@suu.edu