The Conservation Research Bridge Program (Bridge) at the Amphibian Foundation is the 'tip of the spear' for our conservation efforts, and this is the team that gets things done for wild amphibians at AF. Designed as a 'Gap-year' program, the Bridge advances the science of amphibian conservation through a career-building, mentored research program which provides a multitude of unparalleled and unique opportunities in the lab and in the field, working with endangered species,  in a supportive scientific environment.

 

The Bridge is developed for Research Assistants/Students to spend 1-3 semesters onsite in Atlanta, based at the Amphibian Foundation. Students generally come to us from out of state, though we have welcomed international students as well. As a gap-year program, it is available to people  before, during, or after college, and allows students to explore conservation research as a potential career field, while gaining valuable training, and collaborating with regional professionals from agencies, zoos, and universities.

Students work as Research Assistants and apprentices, developing the confidence, resilience, and adaptiveness that define a successful scientist. AF provides valuable training and research experiences for all students in a supportive, thriving environment. We work closely with students to help them achieve their personal, academic, and career goals. Our Bridge students and their research projects advance the conservation science of threatened and endangered amphibians. .

Although a degree is not required, applicants should have a strong interest in biology, conservation, amphibians, and the ability to work independently as well as with colleagues with different backgrounds and interests. Students are based at the Amphibian Foundation in Atlanta, located on the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, for the duration of the program, with many opportunities for field work.

 

The Bridge Program offers two Research Assistant tracks,
depending on student preference and availability. 

Track 1: 15-week program

Tuition

Full time (40 hours/week): $10,000
(Additional second semester: $8,000)

Part time (30 hours/week): $8,000
(Additional second semester: $6,500)

Part time (20 hours/week): $6,000
(Additional second semester: $5,000)
For 15 weeks, students work as a Research Assistant across many disciplines in conservation science, including:

• Reintroduction conservation
• Restoration conservation
• Urban ecology
• Disease surveillance
• Animal husbandry
• Lab propagation of imperiled species
• Studio & field photography
• Natural history
• Science communication
• Biological monitoring of local, native, and reintroduced amphibians
• Partner on projects with agency, zoo, and academic professionals
• Certification as a Master Herpetologist
• Training & Certification in venomous snake handling

Track 2: 45-week program

Tuition

Full time (40 hours/week): $25,000

Part time (30 hours/week): $19,000

Part time (20 hours/week): $13,000
For the first 15 weeks, students work as a Research Assistant across many disciplines in conservation science, including all the concentrations listed in Track 1.

In subsequent semesters, with their mentors, students can design and implement their own mentored research project, and/or work within ongoing studies for the remainder of the year.

Research studies will explore ecological, physiological, life-history, biomechanical, and scientifically interesting questions. This research will also advance AF’s conservation efforts and could be published in scientific literature. The program ends with a research symposium presentation (when applicable) and graduation.

Available Scholarships and Grant Awards

AF aggressively applies for grants and awards to support tuition relief for our prospective Research Assistants.

Available Scholarships are Listed Here.

Access to the full AF course catalog

All Research Assistants have full access to the courses offered at AF included in their program, and time for class studies is built into student's schedules.

Southeast Partners in Amphibians and Reptile Conservation - SEPARC

Track 2 students, and those enrolled in the Winter semester attend the regional conference Southeast Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (SEPARC) the largest regional herpetological conference in the US. Research Assistants have historically given oral and poster presentations at this conference, and our students are strongly encouraged to do so.

Sample Bridge Schedule

  • Monday

    Monday

    Warmer Months:
    • Endangered species mesocosm studies
    • Urban turtle ecology study

    All Months:
    • Bridge Coordinator check-ins
    • Independent + Group research projects
    • Course work + Independent study

  • Tuesday

    Tuesday

    Warmer Months:
    • Urban turtle ecology study

    All Months:
    • Lab propagation of endangered species
    • Coursework (depending on semester):

    • Biology of the Amphibians
    • Biology of the Reptiles
    • Master Herpetologist
    • Science Writing
    • Science Illustration

    • Individual student meetings

  • Wednesday

    Wednesday

    Warmer Months:
    • Endangered species mesocosm studies
    • Urban turtle ecology study
    • Independent Study / Data Analysis

    All Months:
    • Local + Remote Field Work

  • Thursday

    Thursday

    Warmer Months:
    • Urban turtle ecology study 

    All Months:
    • Urban Ecology:

    • Amphibian Monitoring
    • Disease Surveillance
    • Habitat Restoration
    • Repopulation + experimental release
  • Friday

    Friday

    Warmer Months:
    • Urban turtle ecology study

    All Months:
    • Lab propagation of endangered species
    • Venomous Competency Training
    • ~ Monthly research symposia
    • Course work + Independent study

Conservation Research Bridge Program — FAQs

  • What do I get from attending the Bridge Program at the Amphibian Foundation?

    There are many benefits to joining us as a Research Assistant or Research Scholar in the Bridge Program for Conservation Research. Benefits such as:

    • A broadened set of skills within the fields of conservation biology, experimental biology, organismal biology, all focusing on a variety of related disciplines.
    • Field and laboratory experience
    • Certification as a Master Herpetologist
    • Certification in Handling & Management in Venomous Reptiles
    • Mentored Research Experience
    • Cultivation of a network of research, academic, and agency professionals
    • Contribution to the conservation of state and federally listed endangered species
    • Career support in the form of recommendations, resume and CV building
    • Article writing and publications (2+ semesters)
    • Mentored Research design and implementation (2+ semesters)
    • Professional & Scientific presentations at conferences (Winter semester)
  • Who can enroll in the Conservation Research Bridge Program?

    All Bridge Program students must:

    • Be at least 18 years old at the time the program starts.
    • Follow written English and verbal instructions from program staff.
    • Follow the AF code of conduct regarding in-person and online activities.
    • Be able to move about independently or with a companion assistant in a range of outdoor wilderness habitats including but not limited to aquatic wetlands, forests, and urban parks.
    • Communicate clearly and efficiently with staff and peers about safety concerns or problems.
    • Make scheduled payments on time.
    • Have access to a home computer or laptop and a working cell phone.
    • Follow biosecurity and COVID protocols at all times.
  • Does it matter in which semester I enroll?

    Students can expect a similar training experience, regardless of which semester they are enrolled in. That said, certain opportunities are heightened during key activity periods of the year. For example, During Winter semesters (Dec-April), there is an increase in focus on Flatwoods Salamander monitoring, and during the Summer semesters (May-Sept), there is heightened focus on rearing Gopher Frog tadpoles for experimental release into the wild, and urban turtle community monitoring on our nature preserve.

    Here is a list of studies which occur year-round:

    Lab Husbandry + Propagation
    Urban Ecology
    Science Communication
    Course Enrollment
    Venomous Training & Certification
    Field Studies
    Amphibian Disease Studies
    Microbiome + Invasive Species Studies
    Biomechanics Studies
    Behavioral Studies

  • Can you help me find housing?

    Absolutely! Many of you are coming from outside the greater Atlanta area, and will need to at least temporarily relocated to participate in the Bridge Program. We are happy to help find suitable housing, and potentially suggest AF staff, interns, and volunteers looking for roomates.

  • When can I start?

    Preferably, you can start at the beginning of any of the three semesters (Spring, Summer, and Fall). We are happy to make arrangements with you if that is not possible.

  • What does tuition include?

    Tuition costs include on-campus instruction, courses + certifications, field equipment (boots, waders, etc ...), mentoring and access to the AF labs, libraries, resources, and connections

  • What does tuition not include?

    Housing, food, transport, and laptop (recommended), though there is a dedicated Apple computer with loaded software, in the Bridge.

  • Are scholarships, grants, and awards available?

    The Conservation Research Bridge Program is a tuition supported program, though we are actively seeking out grants and awards to support scholarships for students. There are several scholarships currently available, which can be viewed here. Once you apply to the program, we will work with you to apply all applicable and available scholarships.

  • Does the Bridge Program accept international students?

    Yes! While we are happy to assist with supporting documents and the visa application in general, the application itself is the responsibility of the applicant.

An introduction to the founding of the Conservation Research Bridge Program

Apply to the Bridge Program

If you would like to explore whether the Bridge program can help you achieve your interests and career-goals, fill out this brief form and tell us a bit about yourself. We will get back to you within 2 business days.