LITTLE ROCK – Two Arkansas high school students will have the opportunity for eight-week internships with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Fisheries Division this summer. Each of the American Fisheries Society Hutton Scholar interns who are chosen by a selection committee will be paid and the students will have AGFC biologists providing mentorship for the summer.
It could also be the start of a lifetime of work in the field of outdoors conservation and study in the world of fisheries for someone from traditionally underrepresented groups in fisheries science and management.
The program is a partnership between the American Fisheries Society, with its Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program, and the AGFC, which will fund the two internships at a cost of $5,000 each. The AFS counts 39 AGFC Fisheries biologists among its certified members.
“Not only will these students, either juniors or seniors, work this summer as interns through the Hutton program, but they will have the opportunity to come back to the agency when they are in college and work as interns. They will have this experience to use when they apply for our college internship program,” Maurice Jackson, the Family and Community Fishing Program coordinator, said.
The deadline for applying is approaching quickly, he noted. The application period began Dec. 15 and will close on Feb. 14. Jackson said the AGFC will also determine mentors among its biologists through an application process.
“Before COVID-19 hit, we did a survey back in 2019 and we had about 15 biologists who were very enthusiastic about being interns for the program,” Jackson said.
Students who serve as Hutton Scholar interns will be immersed in the work of the Fisheries Division, Jackson said.
“They won’t be filing office papers or stuck in a lab. They will get the full fisheries experience,” he said.
The Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program was established in memory of Robert F. Hutton, who served as the first executive director of the AFS. The AGFC participated in the program from 2002 to 2006, when it was solely funded by the AFS, with 12 students and 12 mentors involved, and Jackson said Arkansas is among four states lined up to provide internships and mentors for this year while contributing to its cost.
Seventy-two percent of Hutton Scholar alumni in the past decade attribute their internship to increasing their interest in fisheries, aquatics or environmental science studies and careers. Also, 69 percent of alumni in the same period are currently studying or have studied fisheries or other biological sciences since their internship.
The Junior Fisheries Program is a summerlong, hands-on education experience designed primarily for minority high school students and female students. Students recruited by the AGFC for the program will be reviewed and selected by the Hutton Review and Selection Committee. Their internship will run from June 1-Sept. 1.
The AGFC will develop a project specifically for each student and supervise each intern in all aspects of the program. Students will be placed in internships no further than a 30- to 45-minute commute from their homes.
To apply for the student internship, visit https://hutton.fisheries.org.