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USDA-ARS High School Research Opportunity

*Applications may be reviewed on a rolling-basis.
ARS Office/Lab and LocationA research opportunity is available with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) within the Crop Protection and Quality Research Unit at the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Research Center located in Parlier, California.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency with a mission to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS will deliver cutting-edge, scientific tools and innovative solutions for American farmers, producers, industry, and communities to support the nourishment and well-being of all people; sustain our nation’s agroecosystems and natural resources; and ensure the economic competitiveness and excellence of our agriculture. The vision of the agency is to provide global leadership in agricultural discoveries through scientific excellence.
The San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Research Center in Parlier, California, provides a state-of-the-art facility supporting laboratory and field research in agricultural sciences. The Crop Protection and Quality Research Unit provides practical and innovative research solutions addressing insect pests, pathogens, and quality loss affecting marketability and market access of horticultural crops. 
Research Project: The candidate will collaborate closely with a team focused on improvement of coordinated pest management for tree nuts (almonds, pistachios, and walnuts). Research activities include insect rearing, conducting experiments on basic behavioral biology, and collection and summary of data from the laboratory and the field. The candidate will not be exposed to toxic chemicals.
Learning Objectives: Upon completion of the project, the selected candidate will have gained a greater understanding of pest management strategies for orchard pests, and will have gained experience in collaborative collection and summarization of data to advance research objectives.
MentorThe mentor for this opportunity is Charles Burks ( If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor.
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: August 1, 2023.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.
Appointment LengthThe appointment will initially be for three months, but may be renewed upon recommendation of ARS and is contingent on the availability of funds.
Level of ParticipationThe appointment is part- or full-time during summer break, and up to 10 hours per week while the trainee is in high school.
Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current stipend for this opportunity is $860 - $2,700 per month, depending on time commitment.
Citizenship RequirementsThis opportunity is available to U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR).
ORISE InformationThis program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and ARS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, ARS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.
Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process, please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.

The qualified candidate should have received a High School Diploma/GED, or currently be pursuing the degree to be received by June 6, 2025, with an interest in applied science. Degree must have been received within the past three months.
The candidate should be at least a rising junior (going into the third year in a 4-year high school education), and up to the summer after high school graduation.
Preferred skills:
  • Previous experience conducting entomological, environmental, biological, or chemistry research
  • Basic understanding of Microsoft Excel, for data entry
  • Ability to independently review literature, as well as organize, document, and interpret data for the assigned project