Project WHIRL Mentor

Project WHIRL Overview


The Indian River Lakes Conservancy (IRLC) is kicking off a new education program! Protectors of Water and Habitat on the Indian River Lakes (Project WHIRL) is a program that pairs collegiate student mentors with high school student mentees interested in improving the natural environment in and around the Indian River Lakes  

The program will consist of three tracks focusing on watershed management, invasive species, and aquatic resources.  Program mentors will work with high-school students for eight hours every Tuesday starting July 9th and ending August 13th     

Components of these programs will involve students conducting invasive species surveys and creating field reports that will guide IRLC invasive species management strategies and prevention tactics on our preserves.   In other tracks of the program students will conduct water quality monitoring, ecological community assessments, plankton surveys, as well as implementing aspects of lake management plans.  

WHIRL’s curriculum also aims to provide high school students and the opportunity to envision a professional future working in the environmental field. A visit to Paul Smith’s limnology laboratories on August 6th will highlight one possible path to continue future studies.

For the last day of the program, a reception will be held, during which the students in each track will brief each other on what they accomplished and learned. Lake associations and community members are welcome and encouraged to attend. This event is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13th at 9:00 a.m.

We are excited and honored to be partnering with the following organizations who helped us launch this spectacular program:  Central New York Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, FORCES (Friends of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship) from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, SLELO PRISM (Saint Lawrence – Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, and Paul Smith’s College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute.

Project WHIRL Program Mentor Job Description

The Indian River Lakes Conservancy (IRLC) and its partners are seeking collegiate students, environmental professionals, educators and other interested public to assist with scientific data collection, water quality monitoring, invasive species management, and community education and outreach within the Indian River Lakes Watershed. Program participants will serve as Program Mentors for junior and senior high school students in three main focus areas, including Aquatic Resource Education, Invasive Species Management and Watershed Management. These Mentor positions are part of a comprehensive watershed management, education and outreach program entitled Project WHIRL (Water & Habitat in the Indian River Lakes). Mentors will further the mission of IRLC and its partners to conserve and protect clean water, fish and wildlife, and the scenic vistas along the shores of the lakes and the Indian River as well as educating ourselves and the community about the natural habitats in which we live.

Mentors will gain:

(1) Meaningful and gratifying opportunities to work with high school age mentees to help strengthen and advance their communication and citizenship skills, connection to community, education and professional experiences.

(2) Leadership experience that will advance them along in their educational and career pursuits and professional development.

(3) Knowledge for conservation, protection and preservation of natural resources, including landscapes, watersheds, water resources and fish and wildlife.

(4) Place-based awareness for the Indian River Lakes watershed, including its importance to functioning ecosystems and the communities that live within the region.

Deadline to Apply: Open until filled

Work duties may include:

  • Lake and stream water quality monitoring and ecological community assessment – invertebrates (e.g., plankton surveys), plants, wetlands, fish, wildlife
  • Survey, inventory and mapping of invasive species (e.g., iMapInvasives) and assist with watercraft inspection and invasives control projects
  • Assist with restoration and research projects
  • Assist with development of watershed and lake management plans (e.g., SUNY Oneonta Lake Mgt Plans)
  • Inform the public about adapting to climate change – higher water temperatures, more/less rainfall, changing lake levels, harmful algal blooms (HABs)
  • Inform best management practices – nutrient input reductions, stormwater mitigation
  • Inform public policy and regulations
  • Watershed education and outreach (pre-K-12 and community) – develop school curriculum incorporating NYS Science Learning Standards; deliver public presentations; create interpretive signage and trails
  • Teach sportfishing and aquatic resource education


  • Candidates must have relevant experience and training in the natural sciences, including such areas as environmental science and/or education, biology, ecology, invasives species ecology, botany, fish and wildlife management, geology or other related field.
  • Candidates must be self-motivated, able to initiate projects and tasks, and have good time management and organizational skills.
  • Candidates should have excellent communication skills and an enthusiasm for teaching.
  • Candidates must be comfortable developing and implementing an educational program for high school students with guidance from Project WHIRL’s advisor.
  • Candidates must be able to provide their own transportation to and from work sites. 
  • Successful candidates must submit to a background check.

Candidates of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply for the position.  THE IRLC does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, non-disqualifying physical or mental disability, national origin, veteran status or any other basis covered by appropriate law.

Please submit cover letter and resume to James Wylie Huffman at