Crew Member: Ecological and Botanical Monitoring in Colorado and New Mexico
(Vegetation & Soil Survey)
Southwest Conservation Corps
in partnership with
the Bureau of Land Management
Position Title: Crew Member
Position Type: Full-time, temporary, 24 weeks
Number of Positions: 22
Locations in Colorado:
Tres Rios BLM Field Office in Dolores*
Uncompahgre BLM Field Office in Montrose*
Grand Junction BLM Field Office*
Gunnison BLM Field Office †
Royal Gorge BLM Field Office in Cañon City †
San Luis Valley BLM Field Office in Monte Vista †
Locations in New Mexico:
Farmington BLM Field Office †
Taos BLM Field Office †
Rio Puerco BLM Field Office in Albuquerque †
Socorro BLM Field Office †
Carlsbad BLM Field Office †
*April 25th, 2022 – October 7th, 2022
† May 16th, 2022 – October 28th, 2022
Living Stipend: $560/week ($640/week in Taos and Carlsbad)
Benefits: Paid attendance to training; Wilderness First Aid (or reimbursement if course was paid personally and taken after April 2021); uniform shirt; $13/day food allowance if camping; AmeriCorps Education Award of $3,247.50 upon satisfactory completion of term
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. See below. 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. For more information, visit www.sccorps.org.
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.
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: http://aim.landscapetoolbox.org/. 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 to be later synthesized into various reports for future land management planning. 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. The first several weeks of the term consist of heavy training and orientation to the Field Office and the project’s many facets and logistics. The rest of the term is typically routine, with the goal to sample the target number of plots using the AIM methodology.
Crews will 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 member 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 personnel.
Fieldwork will be in remote areas. Crews will be required to drive a company or government vehicle to several different areas of the Field or District Office and hike several miles per day carrying equipment (25%) throughout a “four on, three off" or “eight on, six off" structure of a work week (colloquially, a “hitch”). They will usually camp multiple nights and share camp meals and chores. They will return to the office for equipment and data management, unknown plant identification, and further field work planning (20%). 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 Member’s Responsibilities
Participates in and contributes to all aspects of data collection, management, and quality control. Participates in and contributes to hitch preparation and planning, transportation of crew in the work vehicle, navigation to plots, equipment maintenance, and time tracking/management. Continuously learns the local flora and soils and builds botanical, soils, and landscape knowledge. Takes an active role in communicating their personal and professional development goals throughout the season.
Consistently exercises discretion and judgment. Takes an active role in identifying, communicating, and maintaining awareness of, and mitigating safety issues. Identifies, communicates, and solves problems ranging from technical, logistical, and interpersonal as they arise. Initiative and participation are expected at every step. Completes mid-term and end-of-term written evaluations for self and crew lead. Maintains adequate and professional communication and systems of feedback between fellow crew folk. The crew member should be passionate about sound science principles and have curiosity as to how the AIM data might be utilized.
- College coursework (2 years, at minimum) in ecology, botany, plant ecology, plant biology, plant systematics, soils science, geology, horticulture, natural resource management, environmental science, or a related field;
- OR previous college- or professional-level experience in the above fields, plus familiarity with data collection and sound science principles
- Eligible to accept a 900-hour service term with Americorps
- Aged between 21 and 30 (civilian) or 35 (veteran) years upon start date
- U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence and associated identification, including an image of a signed social security card AND another acceptable primary form of documentation
- Able to participate for the entire duration of the program dates (exceptions are rare)
- 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 Microsoft Suite Software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) or other data-collection software
- Self-motivated and able to work independently with limited supervision after the initial training period. The applicant must be able to operate in both the office and the field.
- Capable of standing and walking (at a minimum 6 miles/day on rough, steep, off-trail uneven terrain using a handheld GPS for routefinding), bending, crouching and stooping for long periods of time while taking precise, repetitive measurements, 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
- Willing 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
- 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, 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, and Defensive Driver Training certificates
- Willing to cultivate self-awareness, desire for a positive crew culture, and excitement at the chance to have a close experience with the land.
- Intentional education/experience with a formal or folk system to identify plants to species, especially in the field, from photos, pressed specimens, field guides, taxonomic keys, or other means.
- Familiarity with New Mexico, Colorado, or neighboring flora in general and Ackerfield’s Flora of Colorado, Flora Neomexicana, or other relevant taxonomic keys is preferred.
- Or, deeper experience with floras from elsewhere in the world
- And/or experience working in regions with high floristic diversity
- Experience or interest in large scale, spatially-balanced monitoring designs
- Experience or education using taxonomic soil keys or equivalent mechanism to identify ecological sites
- Familiarity with the Colorado or New Mexico soils
- Experience hand texturing various types of soils
- Experience digging quality soil pits to characterize and document all horizons
- Experience using soil series descriptions, web soil survey, or equivalent soil datasets
- Experience working as part of a small team and able to work well with others
- Excellent communication, organizational, and planning skills
- Excellent communication (including in-person, email, and phone), organizational, and planning skills
- Experience with ArcGIS Online interface
- Knowledge of downloading, using, and syncing ArcGIS Online Maps
- Experience collecting data, especially electronically
- Experience safely operating 4WD trucks on paved and unpaved roads, often in remote areas on unimproved roads, and driving for extended periods (2-3 hours at a time).
- Experience working or recreating in rangeland or desert systems
Public Land Corps:
The Public Land Corps program provides the opportunity for young people between the ages of 16 and 30 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. https://www.blm.gov/careers/students-and-grads/public-lands-corps
To apply, go to position announcement here and click "New Application" at bottom.
Or, go to: https://sccorps.org/small-teams, and follow the link to the above. Application involves cover letter, resume/CV, at least two academic or professional (non-peer) references, and screening questions. Incomplete applications are given less weight. Please apply with full legal name, your preferred name, and pronouns.
SCC offers several Ecological Monitoring crew positions across Colorado and New Mexico, mostly performing the terrestrial AIM methodology. If interested in multiple locations, please mention and rank location (dis)interest in both 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 anticipate beginning the interview process in January. Apply now for advance consideration. Feel free to reach out to Ecological Monitoring Program Coordinator Talavi Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
This position is located in multiple across NM and CO, CO. View the Google Map in full screen.