California Native Plant Society Announces Two New Internships

Contact: Liv O’Keeffe
916-447-2677, ext. 202

March 26, 2019, Sacramento – Supporting California’s next generation of conservation scientists, the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) announced creation of two significant new paid internships on Wednesday.

“This is a time of great opportunities to make a difference, and we need new ideas and energy as much as our early career scientists need the chance to get involved,” CNPS Executive Director Dan Gluesenkamp said, referencing the organization’s current work in the face of climate change, wildfire, pollinator decline, and biodiversity exploration. “CNPS has a long history as a place where emerging professionals can work on the big environmental issues facing California today with leaders in the field.”

Each year, CNPS provides dozens of grants to students, and has supported thousands of important research projects over five decades. Now CNPS is making available two distinguished paid internships:

Natalie Hopkins was a woman ahead of her time who  helped pave the way for other women scientists. Photo courtesy of the Hopkins Family.

The Natalie Hopkins Conservation Intern will be dedicated to advancing conservation of California wildlands, as well as the species and natural communities they support. Guided by CNPS Conservation Program Director Greg Suba, this year’s intern will focus heavily on forestry and wildfire. CNPS has named the internship in honor of the late native plant botanist Natalie Hopkins, who earned her advanced science degrees later in life and became a passionate mentor of women in plant sciences. Hopkins left a portion of her estate to fund the CNPS Natalie Hopkins education grants for women in native plant science. Now, her son Tom Hopkins has furthered his Mom’s legacy by providing additional funds to launch the new position.

“Now is the time for people of our Baby Boomer generation to think about enabling the next generation,” Tom Hopkins said. “Creating this internship is an investment in our future by giving emerging scientists some practical, applied experience. I hope it inspires others to find their own creative ways to pay it forward.”


The Erin Espeland Intern will work with CNPS rare plant and vegetation scientists to explore and understand California’s plants and plant communities. Friends and family have honored Dr. Espeland, who passed away from ALS in 2018, by coming together to raise funds for a new internship in her name. The group reached its fundraising goal on Monday, and CNPS will continue fundraising to fully fund this internship, as well as other student opportunities. Espeland, a UC Davis grad, was a research ecologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, where her research areas included evolutionary and population biology of native and invasive plant, restoration ecology and conservation, and rare plant species. Colleagues and friends remember Espeland for her collaborative spirit and mentorship.

“The entire CNPS community is inspired by the pioneering, mold-breaking women after whom these internships are named,” Gluesenkamp said. “Natalie and Erin felt the call of native plants, and changed their life trajectories accordingly. Their personal stories are incredibly, genuinely, inspiring and deserve to be heard. We’re grateful to the donors who have helped to celebrate these stories, and to give other early career scientists a rare chance to find their own personal missions in the native plant community.”

CNPS will continue to raise funds for student internships, student research grants, student travel to events, and more. CNPS will extend one or both internships to full-time if enough funds are raised. To learn more about CNPS student opportunities or contribute to the CNPS student fund, please visit

CNPS intends to begin accepting applications for the internships on May 1, 2019.


About the California Native Plant Society:
The California Native Plant Society is a statewide organization working to save and celebrate California’s native plants and places via plant science, advocacy, education, and horticulture. CNPS has nearly 10,000 members in 35 chapters throughout California and Baja to promote its mission at the local level.

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