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Ecological Monitoring Crew Lead in Monte Vista, CO


Crew Leader Positions (21+ years old)

Job Location

multiple within Colorado, Colorado

Tracking Code


Position Type


Ecological Monitoring
(Vegetation & Soil Survey)
Southwest Conservation Corps
in partnership with
The Bureau of Land Management

Position Title:  Crew Lead
Position Type:  Full time, temporary
Location: San Luis Valley BLM Field Office (Monte Vista, CO)

Term Dates:  April 1st, 2024-Nov 1st, 2024 (31 weeks)

Weekly Schedule: Hitches are either 8 days on/6 days off or 4 days on/3 days off. Certain offices can accommodate day trips. Office days will occur regularly (20%) throughout the season, with more near the end of the season

Salary:   $900-960 per week DOE

• $18+/day food allowance while camping in the field with crew collecting data. Smaller allowance for day trips.
• Health benefits package that comes into effect on the 1st of the calendar month after the first 60 days
• Paid days off personal leave and sick leave
• Paid attendance to Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder Recertification, or possible reimbursement
• Supplemental development opportunities and funds available throughout and upon successful completion of the season

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

Southwest Conservation Corps’ 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.

Position Overview:
Crews conduct vegetation monitoring using the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Terrestrial Assessment, Inventory, & Monitoring (AIM) methodology. To dive deeper into the AIM methodology, visit the following websites: Crews typically consist of three individuals: two crew members and one crew lead. Together, they monitor land health (i.e., soil and vegetation) on BLM lands including National Monument lands, vegetation treatments, burn scars, rangeland allotments, and wilderness study areas.

The crew lead will begin the season some weeks ahead of the members to become acquainted with the project, field office, and BLM staff. Crews undergo extensive technical training with the BLM and orientation to SCC culture and strategies for a successful field season for the first 2+ weeks in the Field Office and at sites in surrounding areas of Colorado. The rest of the term is typically routine, with the goal to sample a target number of plots using the AIM methodology. We encourage and enable a number of supplemental professional development days related to other public land management projects involving wildlife, range, recreation, rare plant monitoring, or forestry.

Within all plots, the crew is tasked with identifying vegetation to species, gathering species cover and composition data using line-point intercept and gap measurements, measuring soil stability, and describing the site and soil pits. All data are georeferenced 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.

Crews maintain and track botanical specimens of known and unknown species throughout the field season and keep records updated as needed. They continuously learn the local flora and build botanical knowledge. We need crew participants who are driven by curiosity about soil, botanical, and other natural systems.

Crews are based out of BLM Field Office buildings and will be under the direct mentorship and technical guidance of BLM staff and contractors of the Field and State Office.  They will also have direct remote administrative supervision and mentorship under Southwest Conservation Corps. This position uniquely provides the opportunity to develop relationships within and become familiar with the workings of the agency.

Fieldwork generally spans May through October for most locations.  Fieldwork is in remote areas. Crews drive a company or government vehicle to several different areas of the Field Office and hike several miles per day, off trail, carrying equipment (25%) throughout a “hitch”. While on hitch, the crews will typically work 10-hour days, either 8 days on/6 days off or 4 days on/3 days off. They usually camp multiple nights, and they must share camp meals and chores. Day trips, as in starting and ending the workday in town, are possible, but the frequency of day trips varies between duty stations and time of year. Crews are responsible for their own housing, transportation, and food between camping trips. Embracing an unconventional schedule and a level of flexibility are necessary to be successful.

Crews return to the office for equipment and data management, unknown plant identification, and planning (20%).

For the most part, housing is not provided. Certain BLM Field Offices offer limited partially subsidized housing or domicile parking. We are glad to talk through your options with you in the interview and onward. For those lacking personal camping gear, we may be able to loan you gear.

As we are a partnership with a federal agency, we are subject to halting work and pay in the case of a government shutdown, and 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. Plans accordingly 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. A successful crew will gradually have more tasks delegated to crew members as crew members become more independent. The lead facilitates a crew culture of transparency, positivity, pride in work, and improvement.

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

At the end of the season, the Crew Lead may analyze, interpret, or make deductions for varying data, and will report data to various BLM offices and stakeholders. Especially in the longer contracts, written reports are completed and involve the presentation of scientific data and pre/post treatment analysis. The Crew Lead should be passionate about sound science principles and plant identification, 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 similarly be passionate about facilitating the crew members’ experience.

Minimal Qualifications, Familiarity, and Experience:
• 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
• Physically capable of standing, 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 positive attitude
• Navigation software (Field Maps, Avenza, GAIA, etc) as well as a compass for route-finding
• Able to rapidly learn and organize the scientific names of dozens of plants per week, especially in the beginning of the season
• Experience with (digital, preferred) data collection and Microsoft Suite software, or similar
• Excellent communication (including in-person, email, and phone), organizational, and planning skills
• Self-motivated and able to work independently with limited supervision after the initial training period, with excellent discernment of when to ask for help and when to make decisions on your own.
• Willing to empower crew members to improve in performing their duties and developing personally and professionally
• Experience spending multiple days in remote areas
• Willing to learn, teach, and adhere to best practices for field safety, comfort, and Leave No Trace principles
• Can 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
• 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)
• Have self-awareness, desire for a positive crew culture, and excitement at the chance to have a close experience with the land

Preferred Qualifications, Familiarity, and Experience: 
• Leadership, facilitation, teaching, or conflict management
• Vegetation or rangeland health assessments, botanical inventory, or standardized ecological monitoring
• Terminology, techniques, data collection, and analysis methods, as well as equipment used in field biological research
• Local flora or identifying plants to species in the field, from photos, taxonomic keys, and/or pressed specimens
• Texturing soil by hand, characterizing soil pits, and identifying soil series or ecological sites based on observational and quantitative data
• Safely operating 4WD trucks on paved and unpaved roads, often in remote areas on unimproved roads
• Navigating with handheld GPS units
• Mobile data collection, like Field Maps for ArcGIS and Survey123
• ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcGIS Online interface
• Statistical principles and programs, especially R
• Creating maps, performing basic analysis, and organizing data
• Field safety and risk management
• Working or recreating in desert or rangeland ecosystems

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.

To apply, go to the position announcement 
and click "APPLY" at the bottom.

We accept applicants with a range of backgrounds. This entry-level position is part of a developmental program that receives plenty of support. In your application, please write about how your experiences, personality, and motivations could make you a great fit, even if you don’t think you are a conventional candidate.

PLEASE make sure that your cover letter and resume are saved using the following format:
Lastname_Firstname_AIM_CoverLetter and Lastname_Firstname_AIM_Resume
Example: Smith_John_AIM_CoverLetter

Application involves 1) cover letter, 2) resume or CV, 3) at least two academic or professional, non-peer reference contacts, and 4) screening questions. 

No letter of recommendation is needed. Incomplete applications are given less weight.  Please apply with your full legal name, preferred name, and pronouns. 

SCC offers several Ecological Monitoring crew positions across Colorado and New Mexico performing the terrestrial AIM methodology.  If interested in multiple locations, please describe so in both the application questionnaire and cover letter. 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 Michaela Grubb (she/her/hers) at with questions. 

Keywords: botany, botanical, ecology, vegetation, reclamation, management, navigation

This position is located in multiple within Colorado, CO. View the Google Map in full screen.