Aviculture Apprenticeship (12-month)

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) seeks to fill one (1) 12-month Aviculture Apprenticeship position starting in January/February 2024.

Background:  Since our inception in 1973, The International Crane Foundation’s (ICF) Crane Conservation Department has focused on developing future leaders in their field. At ICF, apprentices learn through hands-on experience mentored by seasoned professionals. Many of our staff started their careers in our Crane Conservation Department, and most current apprentices accept full-time positions at other zoos, conservation organizations, and graduate programs at the completion of their apprenticeship with us. We hope you will join us. We promise to help you advance your skills.    

ICF is a leader in the conservation of the world’s 15 crane species and is dedicated to providing experience, knowledge, and inspiration to involve people in resolving threats to cranes and the ecosystems vital to their long-term survival. ICF’s world headquarters is located just outside Baraboo, Wisconsin (one hour north of Madison, WI). ICF is open to the public every day from May 1st to October 31st each year. ICF exhibits the only collection in the world of all 15 crane species. The Crane Conservation Department is responsible for caring for and managing approximately 120 cranes year-round. For more information about our conservation programs, please visit our website at www.savingcranes.org. Be sure to view the Internship Programs video!

Duration and Salary: 

This position has a set 12-month duration starting approximately January/February 2024. The compensation for this position is $1,500/month plus housing at our International Guest House located on-site in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Learning Goals: Aviculture Apprentices will receive training and assist in the care, management, and breeding of the captive crane flock through hands-on experience working with the ICF Crane Conservation Department and will:

  • Learn husbandry skills related to the health, daily feeding, and cleaning of the flock.
  • Learn by participating in managing birds in captivity, specifically for zoological institutions or reintroduction programs.
  • Assist with a variety of crane facility maintenance activities and plant invasive species management.
  • Learn how to safely use small equipment such as power tools, ladders, mowers, string trimmers, power washers, and trailers to aid facilities maintenance work.
  • Acquire an understanding of captive propagation, including participation in artificial insemination, egg incubation, and chick rearing.
  • Learn and practice safe crane defense, handling, and restraint techniques.
  • Learn how to conduct behavioral observations associated with breeding, chick-rearing, or animal welfare assessments.
  • Learn by participating in planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating a behavioral modification program (enrichment or training-based).
  • Learn about interpretation by participating in on-site visitor outreach through scheduled keeper chats or tours in conjunction with the Conservation Education Department.
  • One of our goals is for apprentices to participate in projects related to the goals, work plan, and objectives of the ICF Crane Conservation Department. These projects are shared through a formal presentation and paper.   

Additional opportunities may include:

  • Learn veterinary medicine for crane species by observing medical procedures and treatments.
  • Participate in conservation field-related experiences such as radio telemetry tracking of cranes, Whooping Crane chick releases, and prescribed burns.
  • Learn about ICF project initiatives related to crane ecology, behavior and husbandry, field conservation and ecology, and ecosystem restoration techniques and processes by attending all staff meetings or volunteering with other departments.  
  • Have the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of professional staff at ICF.

A typical work week is five days (40-50 hours) with two consecutive weekdays off. Apprentices are required to work weekends and holidays. Some responsibilities require non-traditional work hours, which may include early mornings, evenings, or night checks. 


  • Ability to work both independently and in a team environment with minimal supervision.
  • Well-developed communication skills, including speaking to large visitor groups.
  • Reliability, sound judgment, and ability to master tasks and comprehend concepts quickly and correctly.  
  • Attention to detail as it relates to the health and behavior of animals and the quality of one’s work. 
  • Ability to work a varied schedule; 40-50 hours per week.
  • Two years of college or equivalent practical experience is required.
  • Demonstrated animal care experience with a focus on avian biology or zoo-keeping preferred.
  • Must be able to commit to the 12-month duration; preference is given to individuals who can start in January.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license (USA or International); an acceptable driving record is required. 
  • All applicants must be eligible to work in the United States at the time they apply.

Physical Abilities:

  • Ability to work outdoors in difficult conditions for long periods of time. 
  • Ability to work outdoors every day in all weather conditions found in Wisconsin, but also indoors in an office environment. 
  • This position is physically demanding. Applicants must be able to carry 50 pounds unaided and be able to lift, bend, or stoop for extended lengths of time. Applicants must be able to stand and walk over uneven ground for long distances, and extended lengths of time while carrying supplies.
  • Applicants must be able to work in physically and visually limiting capacities in a costume for long hours outdoors. 

Application Procedure:  Application materials should include the following: 

  • A one-page personal statement that addresses why you are interested in being a part of the ICF flock, what you hope to gain from our aviculture apprenticeship, and what contribution you hope to make in this position.
  • A resume (no longer than two pages); include start date availability.
  • Contact information (email and phone number) for three references. 

Send application materials to ICFinternships@savingcranes.org. Please use the subject line “CCD Aviculture Apprenticeship: 12-month.” Applications will be reviewed as they are received.

“ICF is committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion. We hire great people regardless of background. “

ICF is an equal opportunity employer