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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

  —Our Mission

Internship Information

Education - Internships

Internship Application Form

Join us at Swanton Pacific Ranch where you will gain hands-on skills and training. Intern positions prepare emerging professionals for the daily tasks associated with their discipline. Interns spend approximately 60% of their time working and 40% of their time learning including training as well as researching and writing associated with a “Career Project.” 

These internships provide well-rounded work and educational experience in an amazing setting with a professional staff and fellow students from a variety of majors. Typical weeks include a mix of learning and field work. Facility cleanup day is every Friday when students and staff give back to the ranch to keep it running and looking great.

The learning and work internship experiences are especially valuable because they take place in one of the nation's biological diversity hotspots. Interns work and learn alongside many rare species in diverse and highly threatened ecosystems; these species and systems have long thrived in this working landscape because of the practices employed and developed by Swanton Pacific Ranch. 

Each of the types of internships available are described below. The work, research, and other opportunities vary per internship area, as the focus is to focus and prepare an intern on a specific career pathway.

The 2018 Swanton Pacific Summer Internship will be a 12-week program beginning June 18th and ending September 7th. 2018 summer interns are currently being selected through an interview process. 

The internship position requires enrollment through Cal Poly Extended Education. Further details will be provided through the application process.

Learning Outcomes

Each intern will:

  1. gain hands-on training in technical and analytical skills involved with sustainable resource management
  2. experience how other disciplines approach sustainable resource management
  3. recognize how their hard work contributes to responsible resource production and the conservation of ecosystem processes and/or threatened/endangered species found within the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Early in the program, interns may be trained in the basics of:

  • off-highway vehicles,
  • tractors and implements,
  • radio communications,
  • small engine equipment,
  • truck load tie-down,
  • CPR/first aid,
  • hazardous materials,
  • land orientation, and
  • ranch emergency management.

Career Project

The Swanton Pacific Ranch Career Project provides interns the opportunity to investigate an assigned project in their area of interest while benefiting the Ranch’s mission. The main goal of the Career Project is to help interns understand the mechanisms, logistics, and policies involved with sustainable resource management of a working ranch that is located in an area of ecological sensitivity.

    In order to receive academic credit, interns are required to develop and complete a final document which describes all components of their project in detail, as well as give a presentation that will be delivered to ranch staff, employees, and members of the community. Interns will be responsible for meeting deadlines and will work closely with education and research support staff. Failure to meet deadlines could result in termination from the internship.


    Available Positions

    Watershed Management

    Learning may include: photo-monitoring methods, hydrologic instrumentation, survey channel morphology and analyze acquired field data. Project work can include in-stream flow measurements, geomorphic data collection and analysis, sediment source surveys, stream channel surveys, water temperature data collection and analysis, maintenance or decommissioning of flumes and equipment, water quality and weather data processing, and GIS mapping.

    Watershed Management Career Projects may include:

    • Stream restoration effectiveness modeling using topographic survey data
    • Habitat change analysis – using an adapted California Fish and Wildlife Habitat Typing Protocol
    • Feature survival analysis – using alder tree survival and structure placement monitoring data

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    Livestock & Range Management

    Learn to apply principles from Holistic Management: work with livestock, install and maintain water systems and fencing, and learn planned grazing practices. Project work can include: rangeland and livestock maintenance, monitoring health and condition of horses, cow-calf herd and stocker cattle, planned grazing implementation, plan and install permanent and temporary fencing, maintain riparian fencing, wildlife and livestock water development, range survey and improvement, maintenance of animal handling facilities, range and forest road improvement.

    Livestock & Range Management Career Projects may include:

    • Perennial grass mapping 
    • Soil monitoring 
    • Market analysis to improve sales
    • Holistic Resource Management model for Swanton Pacific Ranch
    • Grassfed beef nutritional analysis

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    Forestry Management

    Join forestry as part of a greater intern team working on different resource and research challenges at Swanton Pacific Ranch (SPR). Following training (mentioned above), the forestry team will be prepared to work with Ranch Staff to:


    • Produce firewood and lumber under the Non-industrial Timber Management Plan ( with heavy equipment including but not limited to hydraulic wood splitters and SPR’s Woodmizer LT-50 Super Hydraulic Sawmill.
    • Gather field data through the Continuous Forest Inventory system at SPR to evaluate changing forest conditions from forest management and wildfire.
    • Maintain seasonal roads and trails by managing encroaching brush, erosion control, and drainage mitigation.

    Members of the forestry team will be expected to work in challenging conditions in the Santa Cruz Mountains requiring positive attitudes with the ability to work and support others in a team intern environment.


    Forestry Management Career Projects may include:

    • Continuous Forest Inventory-based tree mortality monitoring from the 2009 Lockheed Fire.

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    Sustainable Crop Production

    Learn about the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture in both Cal Poly operations and in Jacob's Farm-Del Cabo production fields at SPR. Help manage our organic apple orchard and pumpkin field, participate in educational demonstrations, maintain standards for CCOF certification, and develop marketing and outreach tools. Project work can include nutrient monitoring, irrigation management and monitoring, beneficial insect monitoring, integrated pest management, marketing and field operations such as irrigation, planting, weeding, thinning, and harvest.

    Sustainable Agriculture Career Projects may include:

    • Agricultural runoff monitoring
    • Monitoring apple orchard irrigation

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    Food Science & Nutrition

    Gain comprehensive hands-on experience in the culinary arts, nutritional meal planning and preparation, food safety techniques, food product sales and regulatory affairs, and product development using CCOF certified organic apples, organic culinary herbs, and Swanton Grass Fed beef.

    Food Science & Nutrition Career Projects may include:

    • creating/updating a cyclical meal plan
    • creating an informational chart with local/in season foods

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    All interns should be able to:

    • Navigate over steep and or uneven terrain,
    • Communicate effectively and get along with others in a live/work situation, and
    • Lift heavy objects such as: bales of hay, bags of feed and seed, chainsaw, fencing wire, and lumber.


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    News & Events

    Cal Poly's Swanton Pacific Day
    September 22, 10:00 - 3:30 pm
    Tickets now available.

    Scotts Creek Watershed Research Symposium
    September 11, 2018
    Registration now open.

    Organic U-Pick Apple Orchard...
    Opens Labor Day weekend.
    Posted Oct 25, 2017

    Volunteer Days...
    Volunteer Days posted for 2018- save the dates!


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