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FRIENDS OF THE SONORAN DESERT (FSD) is pleased to announce our new student internship program. Internships will be awarded to students who have the skills and training to facilitate our mission to protect and conserve the Sonoran Desert. The duties of interns will vary each year, depending on our needs. Interns will have an invaluable opportunity to embed in a small NGO and learn the nuts and bolts about how it is run. In 2021, we would like to hire one intern proficient in social media, and another proficient in website design. On your application, please clearly state which internship you are applying for.


Qualified applicants include advanced undergraduate students and graduate students enrolled in Arizona universities. In 2021 two awards will be made of $500 each, for approximately 33 hours of work. 


Criteria used to evaluate applications:

     1. Match of applicant’s skills and training with ongoing projects

     2. Example of applicant’s work in our areas of interest

     3. Excellence of student’s recommendations


Applications must include:

     1. Summary of skills and training in social media or website design

     2. One or more examples of applicant’s work in social media or website design

     3. Name and contact information of two references familiar with student’s skills in social        

         media or website design, including the student’s academic advisor/supervisor 

     4. A letter of recommendation sent independently by each reference to: – with “FSD Internship – Student Name” in the subject line.


Internship Program Timeline:

     Call for applications: 1 March 2021

     Deadline for receipt of applications: 31 March 2021

     Award notification: 15 April 2021


Internship Requirements:


Internship recipients will meet weekly with their FSD supervisor on Zoom or in person to review their progress on assigned tasks and document hours spent on their projects. 

  • The social media intern will submit a detailed plan, approved by his or her FSD supervisor, for effective use of social media by FSD. 

  • The website intern will submit a detailed plan for modifying the FSD website in line with  instructions given by the FSD supervisor at the onset of the internship. 

The internship must be completed by August 1, 2021, but may be completed before that date. Internship recipients must agree that their selection will be announced on our website and Facebook Page – for this purpose we will require a JPEG image of each awardee.

2021 Internship Application

Applicant Name:  

Affiliation (university/department):  

Grade Level:  

Contact Information – e-mail address and phone number:  


Reference 1:  University Supervisor's name:  

Affiliation (university/department):  

Contact Information – e-mail address and phone number:  


Reference 2:  Name:  

Affiliation (university/department):  

Contact Information – e-mail address and phone number:  


Example of a project you did involving social media or website design:

Please explain the scope of your work, what skills you used, and send photos of or links to the finished product.  500 words maximum.



31 March 2021






P.O. BOX 25592

TEMPE, AZ 85285

Final Reports of 2020 Interns


Littleleaf Greentwig



The IUCN Red List aims to determine the extinction risk to animal, fungi, and plant species. Despite threats such as overgrazing, climate change, and infrastructure development, many of the ~4,000 plant species in the Sonoran desert have not yet been assessed for the Red List. The purpose of my internship with FRIENDS OF THE SONORAN DESERT was to learn how to assess Sonoran Desert plants for the Red List and increase the number of assessed plants in this ecosystem.


I reviewed the scientific literature to develop draft assessments for 13 plant species; four species were “Data Deficient,” seven were “Least Concern” due to their healthy populations and wide distributions, and two were classified as “Near Threatened” (the Littleleaf Greentwig) or “Vulnerable” (Lemmon’s Lupine). Knowing the conservation status of these two small, nondescript, flowering plants is important as both play a role in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.


The data I collected will now be evaluated by experts and then sent on for peer review. Adding  my assessments to data collected by others may help reduce the number of species classified as “Data Deficient.” I identified the most common types of data missing from the literature and made recommendations about filling these research gaps. My internship taught me how to conduct literature reviews and greatly added to my understanding of the Sonoran desert.

Lemmon's Lupine



Wedelia rosei


My internship with the Friends of the Sonoran Desert focused on drafting IUCN Red List assessments for plant species in the Sonoran Desert. Key research topics included in assessments are a species’ geographic range, population information, habitat and ecology, trade and use and threats, as well as conservation actions already affecting the target species. Various online resources and programs were used to find this information. 

I drafted assessments for 35 plant species in the Sonoran Desert, including 10 species within the family Fabaceae. Some of the species I worked on, such as Wedelia rosei ( a member of the sunflower family), could be labeled as Vulnerable or Endangered based on their extremely restricted distributions. Wedelia rosei has only been sighted in a few locations within Central Mexico. Such species are at risk of extinction if any more habitat area is lost. However, many species, such as the foothill deervetch  (Acmispon brachycarpus), were found to be of Least Concern.


My research also helped identify gaps in what we currently know about Sonoran Desert plant species, thus providing a guide for the research of future conservation workers and interns. The most valuable aspect of this internship for me was enhancing my understanding of conservation and the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, as well as improving my research abilities.




Makenzie Meacham is a student at Northern Arizona University pursuing a BS degree in Environmental Science with a biology emphasis. She will work under the supervision of FSD Board Member Helen Rowe.

Jack Buchanan is a student at Northern Arizona University pursuing a BS degree in Environmental Science with a biology emphasis, and a minor in Chemistry. He will work under the supervision of FSD Board Member Helen Rowe.

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