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SECC & Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Vegetation Monitoring Intern 2023


Individual Placement/Internships

Job Location

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Tracking Code


Position Type


Title: Vegetation Monitoring Intern 

Reports to: Troy Evans; Ecologist, Great Smoky Mountains National Park 

            Joshua Albritton; Biologist, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Location: Based in Gatlinburg, TN                 

Status: Seasonal, Full-time, Exempt - 900-hour AmeriCorps Service Term 

Stipend: $530/week – paid bi-weekly   

Other Benefits: Housing in the park, uniform shirts, protective equipment, trainings. Other development opportunities as available. $3,247.50 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of service term. 

Start/end date:  05/22/23 – 11/02/23 (24 weeks)  

Positions available: 3 

Positions open until filled. 


Southeast Conservation Corps:  
SECC empowering young adults to cultivate compassion, responsibility, and grit through community service, hard work, and environmental stewardship. 

Southeast Conservation Corps (SECC) empowers young people to attain compassion, responsibility and grit through community service, hard work and environmental stewardship. SECC is a local, non-profit, AmeriCorps affiliated organization based out of Chattanooga, TN. SECC selects young adults to complete conservation work projects on public, private and municipal lands throughout the Southeast. SECC fosters the personal development of corpsmembers through environmental stewardship projects and experiential learning. Through community partnerships, SECC provides hands-on job training opportunities to young adults while simultaneously meeting natural resource needs throughout the Southeast.  


Position Description: 

The primary mission of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) Resource Management and Science Division (Inventory & Monitoring Branch) is to protect and conserve natural resources throughout the park for both current and future generations. Protection and conservation are accomplished primarily through day-to-day resource management and science activities that include inventory, monitoring, restoration, data management, and data dissemination. Ultimately these activities inform park policy, the public, and the park management team as to the status and trends of natural resources within the park so that sound stewardship and management decisions can be made. 

The GRSM Inventory and Monitoring Branch is recruiting qualified applicants to assist with field work, data collection, data management, data entry, and other tasks as needed related to several ongoing and long-term field projects including forest plot monitoring, stream surveys for federally endangered rock gnome lichen, and rare plant monitoring. Field work will be performed throughout the park in a wide variety of forest types. Field work is labor intensive and requires several crew members to operate safely and communicate effectively. All data collected will inform park policy, assist to educate park visitors, and assist park management efforts to make sound stewardship decisions and protect important natural resources throughout the park. The work will also help to inform research interests from park partners and Universities.


Position Responsibilities: 

  • Work with ecologist and biological technicians to collect data in 32 long-term vegetation plots in a variety forest types throughout the park.
  • Collect a wide variety of data including standard forestry measurements, species inventory, soil samples, photo documentation, and other field data as needed.
  • Use dichotomous keys to perform plant community classification and to identify unknown plant species.
  • Training on Field Navigation and Site Assessment, Plot Installation, Data Collection Methods, Plant Identification, Plant Community Classification, Data management, Databasing
  • Perform inventory and monitoring of rare and/or vulnerable plant populations throughout the park.
  • Collect a variety of biological data on rare/sensitive plant populations throughout the park.
  • Work with rare plant biologist and bio-technician to collect data on rock gnome lichen populations throughout the park. Surveys will be primarily focused on riverine habitats but will also include exposed cliff and/or rock outcrop habitats.
  • Collect data on rock gnome lichen abundance, extent, and cover; GPS point, polygon, and line data; and photo documentation
  • Field Navigation and Safety, Site Assessment, Plot Installation, Data Collection Methods, Technical Rope Training, Data management, Databasing
  • Work with biological technicians to perform inventory and monitoring of rare and/or vulnerable plant populations throughout the park.
  • Collect a variety of biological data on rare/sensitive plant populations throughout the park; Perform GPS mapping and data collection; Utilize iPads and other mobile devices for data collection.
  • Assist with Ginseng monitoring, root processing, and replanting.
  • Assist with a variety of rare plant management efforts including mechanical thinning and fence installation.
  • Perform data management, data entry, and data quality assurance checks as needed on all field data.

Required Skills

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Applicant should be self-motivated, highly organized, and able to follow detailed protocols.
  • Must be able to hike in mountainous terrain in inclement weather conditions, carrying a backpack both on and off trail on exposed terrain on cliff and rock outcrop habitats.
  • High-mileage field days are the norm.
  • Ability to carry field packs weighing more than 20 pounds.
  • Good fitting hiking boots and raingear are important items to have prior to arrival. Some overnight backpacking is a requirement.
  • Intern will be a part of a team that operates safely and always communicates effectively.


Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Knowledge and skills in ecology/botany/forestry, plant ID and the use of technical keys, vegetation sampling methods, orienteering, and GPS.


AmeriCorps Qualifications:  
To qualify, you must be between the ages of 18 and 30 and a US citizen that has received a high school diploma or GED. All offers of employment are conditional upon completion of an acceptable check of the National Sex Offender Public Registry and federal criminal background check. Must be eligible to receive an AmeriCorps Education Award.   


Trainings May Include: 

Proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use, field navigation, site assessment, plot installation, data collection methods, rare/sensitive plant identification, plant community classification, data management, databasing, wetland identification, iPad/GPS use, Geographic Information System (GIS), technical rope training, and revegetation/restoration methods. 

Interns earn a living stipend of $530 ($1,060 dispersed bi-weekly before taxes) via direct deposit. Housing within the park is also provided to interns. Upon successful completion of their term, interns will receive a $3,247.50 Segal AmeriCorps education award for tuition at Title IV accredited learning institutions, AmeriCorps approved non-traditional continued education or paying off student loans. 


Participation and Expedition Behavior: 

  • Work effectively as a member of a team despite potentially stressful and difficult conditions. This may require problem-solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.
  • Contribute to a safe learning environment, no harassment of others for any reason.
  • Willingness and ability to complete all aspects of the program including conservation projects, education, training, and national service. Members must commit to participating in all crew/team activities, including service days in local communities where applicable.
  • Effectively communicate ideas and concerns as they arise directly to supervisors, colleagues, and organization staff.
  • Have the cognitive ability to learn necessary skills and apply them to effectively carry out the service work requirements.
  • Appropriately always represent the Program and AmeriCorps to the public and project partners. 

Safety and Judgment: 

  • Effectively communicate danger to others in the form of either a warning of danger others may be encountering or a notification of personal distress, injury or need for assistance. You must be able to do so at a distance of up to 50 meters and in conditions with limited visibility or loud background noise such as darkness or high winds.
  • Effectively perceive, understand, and follow direction by others so that you will be able to successfully execute appropriate and perhaps unfamiliar techniques to manage hazards. These directions may be given before the hazard is encountered or may need to be given during exposure to the hazard.
  • Stay alert and focused for several hours at a time while traveling and working in varied weather conditions
  • Perceive and comprehend significant and apparent hazards, including those hazards previously identified by others.
  • Respond appropriately to stress or crises.
  • If taking prescription medications, participants must be able to maintain proper dosage by self-medicating without assistance from others.

Environmental Ethics: 
Learn and practice ‘Leave no Trace’ techniques 

Outdoor Skills and Fitness (where appropriate): 

Learn and safely perform fundamental outdoor living/travel and work skills as appropriate to the project. Additionally, remain adequately hydrated, fed, and properly dressed to remain generally healthy and safe, avoiding environmental injuries. 

Substance Free: 
In accordance with a drug free workplace, alcohol and drugs are prohibited while participating in AmeriCorps and program activities and while on organization property. 


Additional Notes: 

All applicants must pass a criminal background and motor vehicle background check prior to hiring. 


This program is available to all, without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or expression, political affiliation, marital or parental status, genetic information, and military service. Where a significant portion of the population eligible to be served needs services or information in a language other than English, the recipient shall take reasonable steps to provide written material of the type ordinarily available to the public in appropriate languages.


To Apply:  

Follow the SECC link and complete the application. Please include resume, copy of your transcripts (unofficial okay), and contact information for 3 references. You can put the references in a word doc and upload it alongside your resume. A cover letter is encouraged but not required. 


If you have questions about the position, please contact: 


Joshua Albritton


Great Smoky Mountains National Park


If you have questions about the application process, please contact: 

Kahla Stewart

Intern Program Coordinator

Southeast Conservation Corps 


This position is located in Gatlinburg, TN. View the Google Map in full screen.