Whooping Crane Chick Rearing & Release Apprenticeship

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) is looking to fill 4 Whooping Crane Chick Rearing Apprenticeship positions for 2024.

Background: Since our inception in 1973, The International Crane Foundation’s (ICF) Conservation Leadership program 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 Conservation leadership program 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, WI.  ICF participates in captive breeding and rearing of Whooping cranes for release in the 2 reintroduction programs. For more information about our conservation programs, please visit our website at www.savingcranes.org.

Duration and Salary:

This position has a duration of 6-8 months, with a start date between April 1-15.  A taxable $1500/month stipend including on-site housing is provided.  A typical work week is 5 days (40-50 hours) with 2 consecutive days off.  Apprentices are required to work weekends and holidays.  Some responsibilities require non-traditional work hours which include early mornings, evenings, or night checks. 

Learning Goals: Whooping Crane Chick Rearing Apprentices (WCCRRA) will receive training and assist in the intensive care and management of raising endangered crane chicks, specifically whooping cranes for captivity and release and will:

  • Develop husbandry skills related to daily cleaning and feeding of the flock
  • Participate in the management of birds in a zoological setting, and specifically for release
  • Acquire an understanding of captive propagation including some participation in artificial insemination, egg incubation, chick rearing
  • Assist with routine set-up, maintenance & winterization of crane facilities both on campus & in the field
  • Learn and practice safe crane defense, handling and restraint techniques
  • Learn and follow strict isolation rearing protocols for raising chicks for release
  • Acquire and exhibit proper costume parental behaviors when working with chicks, providing them with experiences to develop survival skills in the wild
  • Conduct behavioral observations associated with chick-rearing, breeding, or animal welfare assessments
  • Learn and use ZIMS for record keeping and communication among staff
  • Acquire knowledge of and participate in tracking free roaming cranes in WI
  • Learn about ICF project initiatives related to crane ecology, behavior and husbandry, field conservation and ecology; and ecosystem restoration techniques and processes
  • As time allows, assist in the completion of one or several projects related to the goals, work plan and objectives of the ICF Crane Conservation Department including summarizing those projects in a formal paper and presentation
  • Part of apprenticeship will be conducted on either state or federal lands requiring compliance with their regulations

 Additional opportunities may include:

  • Assist the Conservation Education Department with on-site visitor outreach through special tours.
  • Have the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of professional staff at ICF.
  • Participate in conservation field- related experiences such as prescribed burns.
  • Whooping Crane Chick Rearing Apprentice may help with all aspects of the captive flock and responsibilities will vary depending upon timing and number of chicks hatching.  


  • Must have a valid driver’s license and acceptable driving record.
  • All applicants must be eligible to work in the United States at the time they apply. 
  • Ability to abide by all USFWS/WIDNR policies when working on USFWS/WIDNR properties.
  • Must be able to commit to the full term of apprenticeship offered.  
  • Two years of college or equivalent practical experience required; 4-yr college degree or associate degree in a relevant program preferred.
  • Six months animal care experience with a focus in avian biology or zoo-keeping preferred.
  • 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 judgement, and ability to master tasks and comprehend concepts quickly and correctly. 
  • Ability to work a varied schedule.
  • Basic CPR & First Aid training is desired.
  • Knowledge of tracking, reading maps & GPS skills are a plus.

Physical Abilities:

  • This position is physically demanding.  Applicants must be able to carry 50 pounds 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, extended lengths of time while carrying supplies.
  • Ability to work outdoors every day in all weather conditions found in Wisconsin, but also indoors in an office environment. 
  • Applicants must be able to work in physically & visually limiting capacities in a costume for long hours outdoors.

Application Procedure: Applicants should send a one-page cover letter including start date availability, resume (no more than two pages), and contact information for three references to:  ICFinternships@savingcranes.org.  Please use the subject line “Whooping Crane Chick Rearing & Release Apprenticeship”.  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.”

ICF is an equal opportunity employer.