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Crew Lead: Ecological Monitoring


Crew Leader Positions (21+ years old)

Job Location

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Tracking Code


Position Type


Ecological Monitoring  

(Vegetation & Soil Survey)  


Southwest Conservation Corps  

in partnership with 

The Bureau of Land Management 


Position Title:  Crew Leader 

Position Type:  Full time, temporary 

Locations in New Mexico: 

Las Cruces BLM District Office * 

Carlsbad BLM Field Office ‡

Program Dates:  

* 6/27/2022 - 2/24/2023 or 6/24/2023, 35 weeks or 52 weeks)

‡ summer 2022 - summer 2023 (52 weeks)

Salary:$725-805/week depending on experience 

Paid attendance to training including Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder Recertification (or reimbursement if course was paid personally and taken after April 2021);
Uniform shirts;
$15/day food allowance if camping;
Health benefits package that comes into effect on the 1st of a calendar month after the first 60 days
Paid days of personal leave

Hiring Benefits:  Public Land Corps Hiring Authority: eligible to use, for two years upon completion of term, a noncompetitive hiring status for consideration when applying to competitive service positions for a federal agency.  Must be under age 31 upon issue of certificate. 

Southwest Conservation Corps’s Mission 

It is the mission of the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) to empower individuals to positively impact their lives, their communities, and the environment.   

Bureau of Land Management’s Mission 

The Bureau of Land Management's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Program Overview: 

Crews will conduct vegetation monitoring using the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Terrestrial Assessment, Inventory, & Monitoring (AIM) methodology. More information on the BLM’s AIM strategy can be found on the AIM website:  Crews will consist of three individuals: two crew members and one crew lead.  Together, they will monitor land health (i.e., soil and vegetation) on BLM lands including National Monument lands, vegetation treatments, burn scars, rangeland allotments, or reference areas using AIM methodology. 

Within all plots, the crew will identify vegetation to species, gather species cover and composition data using line-point intercept and gap measurements, measure soil stability, and describe the site and soil pits (50%).  All data will be georeferenced using a GPS unit and stored in an ArcGIS geodatabase.  Data are entered into a database on site with ruggedized tablets (10%) and, at the end of the season, synthesized into various reports for future land management planning (10% for shorter terms).  The crew may also have the opportunity to assist with other public land management projects involving wildlife, range, recreation, rare plant monitoring, or forestry (5%), contingent on sampling productivity and BLM staff availability. 

Crews maintain and track botanical specimens of known and unknown species throughout the field season and keep records updated as needed.  The crew member will continuously learn the local flora and build botanical knowledge. The crew lead should be curious about the soils, botanical, and other natural systems and have a passion to grow and share that curiosity and knowledge with fellow crew member(s). 

Fieldwork is in remote areas.  Crews are required to drive a company or government vehicle to several different areas of the Field or District Office throughout a “four on, three off" or “eight on, six off" structure of a work week (colloquially, a “hitch”), usually camp multiple nights, share camp meals and chores, hike several miles per day carrying equipment, and return to the office for equipment and data management, unknown plant identification, and further field work planning (25%).  Camping out is expected of the crew whenever, as safety allows, it is more efficient to do so.  Certain crews camp out more than others, due to varying risk factors and the layouts of the sampling areas.  An unconventional schedule, a level of flexibility, and long hours are necessary. 

Housing is not provided, but we are glad to talk through your options with you in the interview and onward.  Certain BLM FOs have limited partially subsidized housing available. 

We require proof of full vaccination against SARS-COV-2.  We have also developed and successfully implemented protocols in precaution against COVID-19 transmission between crew personnel.  Protocols address mask-wearing, cleaning, sanitation, and limited paid isolation/stand-down if necessary.  Crews will ride in the same vehicle, run errands in public, and share camping and sampling equipment.  We ask crews to perform their periodic office tasks in the BLM Field Office if it is available, though remote accommodations may be necessary.  Crews may be asked to be flexible and accommodating in using their personal space when the physical BLM office is less available for any reason. 

As we are a partnership with a federal agency, we are subject to halting work and pay in the case of a government shutdown.  Backpay is not typical. 

Crew Lead’s Responsibilities 

The Crew Lead takes ownership of, supports, and manages the field crew’s risk management, schedule, scientific integrity, efficiency, and professional development.  Aims to reach sampling volume target by end of field season.  Consistently exercises discretion and judgment. Coordinates and delegates field logistics, hitch plans, food budget scheduling, crew tasks, debriefs, and management of the crew’s equipment.  Provides/asks for feedback to/from crew members regarding performance. 

The Crew Lead is the primary contact between the crew and the SCC supervisor/BLM staff.  Completes necessary administrative paperwork.  Holds and documents spending of a company credit card.  Before, during, and after field data collection, the lead is responsible for the organization and quality control of all AIM data collected in Collector for ArcGIS.  

At the end of the season, the Crew Lead may analyze, interpret, or make deductions for varying data, and will be required report data to various BLM offices and stakeholders.  Especially in the longer terms, written reports will be completed and involve the presentation of scientific data and pre/post treatment analysis.  

The Crew Lead should be passionate about sound science principles, be an advocate for the AIM program in the Field Office, and have a willingness to learn about how AIM data could be used in range, forestry, fire and wildlife programs within the BLM.  The crew lead should be passionate about facilitating the crew members’ experience similarly. 

Minimal Qualifications: 

  • College graduate (Bachelor’s, at minimum) with coursework in ecology, botany, range science, soil science, wildlife biology, natural resource management, conservation biology, environmental studies, or a related field 
  • Aged at least 21 years upon hire 
  • Able to produce identification as stipulated by I-9 upon hire 
  • Valid US driver's license and insurable driving record 
  • Able to pass Conservation Legacy’s and the Department of Interior’s background checks 
  • Experience with (digital, preferred) data collection and Microsoft Suite software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), or similar 
  • Basic statistics knowledge 
  • Excellent communication (including in-person, email, and phone), organizational, and planning skills 
  • Experience working as part of a team and able to work well with others 
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently with limited supervision after the initial training period, with excellent discernment of when to ask for help.  The applicant must be able to maneuver and operate in both the office and field. 
  • Willing to empower crew members to improve in performing their duties and all associated skills 
  • Physically capable of standing and walking (at a minimum 6 miles/day on rough, uneven terrain), bending, crouching and stooping for long periods of time, and lifting/carrying items that weigh up to 40 pounds, in upwards of 100 degree (F) heat while maintaining attention to detail and overall good humor. 
  • Experience and willingness to spend multiple days (1-8 days at a time) making day trips and car-camping in remote areas; willing to learn, teach, and adhere to best practices for field safety, comfort, and low-impact principles 
  • Willing to spend several hours per day and/or per week riding in, navigating with, and driving a four-wheel drive pick-up truck on- and off-highway, sometimes over/around tricky or unexpected obstacles 
  • If little prior off-road driving experience, then willing to learn 
  • Willing to constantly demonstrate and enforce best driving practices 
  • Experience navigating and hiking steep, challenging, off-trail terrain using a handheld GPS or maps and compass for route-finding. 
  • Excellent judgment in assessing physical, mental, and emotional risk 
  • Able to safely and effectively work in and around adverse conditions including extreme heat, monsoonal rains, wildfire smoke, and hazardous wildlife (i.e. rattlesnakes, scorpions, biting/stinging insects, cattle, and horses) 
  • Current (or able to be trained by SCC/BLM) CPR, Wilderness First Aid (reimbursed if personally obtained or re-certified after May 2021), and Defensive Driver Training certificates 
  • At least 1 cumulative year of experience identifying plants to species in the field, from photos, taxonomic keys, and/or pressed specimens 
  • Able to rapidly learn and organize the names of dozens of plants per week, especially in the beginning of the season 
  • Possessing or with capacity to cultivate: self-awareness, honesty, generally calm or cheerful disposition, desire for a positive crew culture, and excitement at the chance to have a close experience with the land. 

Preferred Qualifications:  

  • At least 6 months’ experience in vegetation monitoring and leading a crew of 2 or more people 
  • Previous standardized ecological monitoring or Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health experience 
  • Previous leadership, facilitation, or conflict management experience 
  • Familiarity with the region’s flora and associated taxonomic keys, or nearby 
  • Experience texturing soil by hand, characterizing soil pits, and identifying soil series or ecological sites based on observational and quantitative data 
  • Experience safely operating 4WD trucks on paved and unpaved roads, often in remote areas on unimproved roads 
  • Experience with handheld GPS units 
  • Experience with mobile data collection using Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123 apps 
  • Experience with ArcMap, ArcCatalog and ArcGIS Online interface 
  • Proficient knowledge of statistical principles and programs, especially R 
  • Knowledge of creating maps, performing basic analysis, and organizing data 
  • Field safety and risk management training or experience 
  • Experience working or recreating in desert or rangeland ecosystems 

Public Land Corps: 

The Public Land Corps (PLC) program provides the opportunity for young people between the ages of 16 and 30 (civilian) or 35 (veteran) years to work on conservation projects on public lands. Participants must successfully complete 640 hours that include at least 120 hours on federal lands through the PLC. PLC members are not federal government employees, but those who successfully complete the PLC requirements are then eligible to use, for two years, a noncompetitive hiring status for consideration when applying to competitive service positions. 


Select the "APPLY" button on this page to be taken to the application for this role.

Application involves 1) cover letter, 2) resume/CV, 3) at least two academic or professional, non-peer  references, and 4) screening questions.  No letter of recommendation is needed.

 Incomplete applications are given less weight.  Please apply with full legal name, your preferred name, and pronouns. 


Incomplete applications are given less weight.  Please apply with full legal name, your preferred name, and pronouns. There is no need for letters of recommendation.


SCC offers several Ecological Monitoring crew positions across Colorado and New Mexico performing the AIM methodology or similar.  If you are interested in multiple locations, please clearly rank or describe location (dis)interest on the application questionnaire and cover letter.  In the cover letter, please paint how your prior experiences demonstrate that you are a fit for the job, even if the connection is not immediately apparent.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 


We are accepting applications and offering interviews now.  Feel free to reach out to Ecological Monitoring Program Coordinator Rylee Hostrawser (she/her/hers) at with questions. 


This position is located in Las Cruces, NM. View the Google Map in full screen.