Student Employment

Undergraduate Research Assistantships

Undergraduate students are integral to the success of the TPC. As student employees, they work alongside TPC staff, earning a competitive hourly wage while gaining valuable skills. We are proud of our students' accomplishments! Many go on to graduate school, find jobs in related industries such as native seed companies and commercial greenhouses, or become natural resource managers for public agencies.  

Students planting plugs

The Plant Materials Program, led by Laura Walter, employs an undergraduate student research assistant for up to 20 hours per week throughout the academic year and up to 30 hours per week through the summer to help with a wide variety of tasks including:

  • Greenhouse propagation of native plants from seed.
  • Planting, weeding, and other maintenance of native seed production plots. 
  • Prescribed fire.
  • Harvesting and conditioning native seed.
  • Invasive species control.
  • Mowing of access trails and plot margins.
  • Maintenance of mowing equipment.
  • Harvesting and cleaning prairie roots specimens.
  • Data collection and record keeping.
  • Meetings or other events.


Student helping monitor vegetation

The Research and Restoration Program, led by Dr. Justin Meissen, employs a student research/field assistant for 10–20 hours per week throughout most of the year to assist with:

  • Prairie seeding projects.
  • Prescribed burns.
  • An annual seed price survey.
  • Vegetation monitoring using permanent photo points.
  • Native seed collection.
  • Collection and management of ecological data using Arc GIS Online.
  • Maintenance of the prairie roots pot facility.
  • Mowing or hand pulling of invasive weeds.



SURP students

‌Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP)

The College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences sponsors UNI's Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) for UNI students majoring in the sciences. Over ten weeks (May–July) students earn a stipend while working with a faculty mentor on a research project. The summer culminates in a public poster presentation, and students develop an oral presentation for 3 credit hours of Undergraduate Research (BIOL 3190) in the Fall. Several UNI Biology faculty take advantage of TPC facilities for summer research projects involving plants and pollinators. UNI students should watch for an announcement in the Fall semester to apply for the SURP program.



GIA members

Green Iowa AmeriCorps

The Tallgrass Prairie Center is a host site for Green Iowa AmeriCorps (GIA). Under the leadership of Kristine Nemec, GIA members led a hand in virtually every TPC endeavor. They staff display tables at statewide and national conferences, help us to host events, organize volunteer work crews for Daryl Smith Prairie and other campus preserves, and engage the public with creative learning activities. 



Graduate student

‌Graduate Assistantships

When grant funding allows, we are able to support graduate students in the Department of Biology to conduct research and earn a master's degree. See the Department of Biology for complete information on the application process. Here is a list of past graduate students who have worked at the Tallgrass Prairie Center and their thesis topics.  

Announcements of assistantship openings, when available, will be posted on this page. A sample description of graduate assistantship duties is here


  • When a graduate assistantship beginning in the fall semester is available, the deadline for application is February 1.
  • When a graduate assistantship beginning in the spring semester is available, the deadline for application is November 1.