Hatchery Intern Opportunity

2024 Oyster Hatchery Internship Opportunity

The oyster culture program at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory is accepting applications for a 2024 summer internship.

Oyster aquaculture in Maryland is a rapidly growing industry with countless opportunities for innovative ideas and for those with a strong work ethic to make a meaningful difference. Since the revision of the lease laws in Maryland during 2009, the state has seen a strong increase in aquaculture operations. With this surge comes an increased demand for a workforce who is trained in unique aquaculture job skills.

Where: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery located at 2020 Horns Point Road in Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

When: Candidates should be able to work for a minimum of 12 consecutive weeks within the timeframe of April 2024 and October 2024. Spring and summer internships will be considered. Most work is conducted Monday-Friday 8am-4pm, occasionally irregular hours may occur. Weekend work is required.

What you’ll do:

  • Become part of the hatchery team and learn all aspects of oyster culture
  • Complete rotations and become competent in all aspects of oyster cultivation
  • Collect data
  • Basic troubleshooting
  • Earn digital badges
  • Give back to the Chesapeake Bay


  • 18 years of age or older by the start of employment
  • Able to lift at least 50 pounds, this job is extremely physical
  • Commitment to working in a wet, muddy, and humid environment.
  • Able to work weekends
  • Interest in aquaculture, fisheries, biology, environmental sciences or a related field
  • Be prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear for wet and muddy conditions.
  • Commit to arrive on time
  • Reliable transportation

Pay: $15/hour before taxes paid biweekly, limited housing may be available.

*Due to the rural nature of the campus area, personal transportation is encouraged for all participants.


Interns will rotate through various aspects of the hatchery and should be capable of working independently after training.

Broodstock Management

Broodstock is our stock of mature adult oysters that are used for breeding (or spawning). Our broodstock are managed in various locations (floats in our boat basin, holding tanks and broodstock conditioning tables). Interns will help move, sort, clean, and manage broodstock.

  • Collecting, maintaining, and cleaning broodstock oysters
  • Learning the conditioning process
  • Processing oysters for assessment


Reproduction of adult oysters by the release of gametes (eggs and sperm) into the water column is known as broadcast spawning. Interns will learn how to mass spawn and individually spawn oysters in a controlled environment.

  • Setting up/breaking down

  • Determining sex ratio
  • Fertilizing eggs
  • Learning microscope techniques

Larval Rearing

Once oyster eggs are fertilized, they are transferred into large tanks, known as MLTs. While in the large tanks, oyster larvae are free-swimming animals that feed on algae and grow to maturity in 2-3 weeks. Interns will learn all aspects of growing and caring for developing oyster larvae.

  • Filter operation and how to fill tanks for culture
  • Cleaning larval rearing tanks
  • Sorting larvae and assessing maturity
  • Performing larval counts

Algae Production

A standard hatchery diet of at least 4 species of different types of algae, or phytoplankton, is grown at our hatchery to feed the oyster larvae and seed. We produce algae in a batch and semi-continuous manner where cultures start in flasks and scale up with sterile media into glass carboys and then into larger tanks. Interns will learn all aspects of sterilizing water, transferring algae cultures, and maintaining cultures to produce high quality algae to feed production runs.

  • Maintaining carboy cultures
  • Cleaning and inoculating tanks
  • Operating various equipment

Setting & Planting

Setting is the process of introducing mature pediveliger larvae into outdoor setting tanks and allowing them to attach to oyster shells to produce spat-on-shell. Our setting pier holds 52 setting tanks, containing cages full of oyster shells. Once attached, the spat will be deployed to restoration/industry locations in the Bay. Interns will learn how to properly prepare setting tanks, introduce larvae, collect and count samples, and participate in planting rotations as the spat leave the pier.

  • Filling/draining tanks
  • Collecting samples and processing data
  • Introducing larvae to setting tanks
  • Accurately determining spat on shell numbers
  • Early morning sampling on deployment days

Seed Production

Cultchess seed, or individual oysters, are primarily used for the half-shell market They can also be used in research for aquaculture advancements. Interns will learn all aspects of seed production from setting up the downwelling tanks to grading and packaging mature seed for sale.

  • Setting larvae on ground cultch
  • Sorting and counting seed
  • Upweller and downweller operation

Demonstration Farm

The HPL Oyster Hatchery fosters working relationships with other research institutions. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has a longline system at HPL where families of oysters are held. The HPL Hatchery helps maintain these lines during the year. Interns will be required to assist in the operation.

  • Maintenance of oysters growing on long line system
  • Learning how to work in non-ideal weather conditions


  • Basic laboratory skills
  • Answering phone calls in a professional manner
  • Assisting with large hands-on experiences for tour groups*


November 9, 2023– Applications are now being accepted

Nov 23-26, Dec 21, 2023 – Jan 2, 2024 — *HPL Closed for Holidays*

January 26, 2024 — 1:00 PM In Person Intern tour (virtual by request)

February 8, 2024 — COMPLETED applications due by 11:59:59 PM EST

Feb 12 – Feb 26, 2024 — Applications under review

February 28- March 4, 2024 — Applicants notified of their status, interviews scheduled

Mar 4- Mar 8, 2024 — Applicant interviews

March 11, 2024 — Internship offers made

March 25, 2024 — Offers must be accepted no later than 11:59:59 PM

April – June 17, 2024 — Interns start


Application Submission Instructions and Deadline

If you have any questions about this opportunity, need assistance filling out this application, or you would like to attend our virtual intern tour, please contact Stephanie Alexander at tobash@umces.edu or (410)221-8310 or Julie Trommatter at jbaynard@umces.edu or (410)221-8370.

Applications can be downloaded from our website (below). Completed application materials should be emailed to Stephanie Alexander at tobash@umces.edu. While electronic submissions are preferred, you may also download the application from our website and submit it via mail to UMCES Horn Point Oyster Hatchery, P.O. Box 775, Cambridge, MD 21613. You may also fax materials to (410) 221-8456 “ATTN: Stephanie Alexander.” To request a paper copy, call 410-221-8310.

Applicants must submit the following:

1. Application Form

2. A copy of your most recent transcript that lists all courses you have taken to-date and the grades you have received. Both unofficial and official copies are accepted.

3. A minimum of two (2) letters of recommendation from an individual capable of commenting on your academic qualifications and work ethic. These letters may be emailed directly to Stephanie Alexander or attached with your application form.

4. A resume or curriculum vitae describing any relevant jobs, internships, volunteer work, scholarships and/or other activities that you have held or participated in and other skills or accomplishments that you wish to identify.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all materials have arrived on or before the deadline. All materials, including application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and resume or CV are expected to be complete and submitted by February 8, 2024 11:59:59 PM EST. We strongly encourage applicants to attend the virtual tour of our facility offered on January 26, 2024. Please email Stephanie Alexander at tobash@umces.edu to add your name to a list for the virtual tour.

Qualified applicants receive consideration for employment without discrimination because of sex, marital status, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, age, or the presence of a non-job-related handicap.

Application Form Download Links – choose your desired format

Application as PDF | Application as a Word Doc (.docx)