Crew Member: Ecological Monitoring (Vegetation & Soil Survey) in Las Cruces, NM
(Vegetation & Soil Survey)
Southwest Conservation Corps
in partnership with
The Bureau of Land Management
Position Title: Crew Member
Bureau of Land Management Office Location: Las Cruces District Office (Located in Las Cruces, NM)
Program Dates: April 15th-December 20th, 2024. (36 weeks)
We prefer candidates who can attend and commit to the full term.
Weekly Schedule: Hitches vary between 8 days on/6 days off and 4 days on/3 days off, camping with a government or company vehicle most nights. Office days will occur regularly throughout the season, with more near the end.
Living Allowance: $600-$640/week DOE
Plus Housing Allowance: $140/week. Housing allowance may be lower if Member secures agency-subsidized housing.
AmeriCorps Education Award of $3,447.50 (depending on term length and upon satisfactory completion of the term)
Paid attendance to Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder Recertification, or possible reimbursement
$18+/day food allowance while camping in the field with crew collecting data. Smaller allowance for day trips.
Supplemental development opportunities and funds available throughout the term
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'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.
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: https://www.blm.gov/aim/. Crews typically consist of three individuals: two crew members and one crew lead. Together, they monitor land health on BLM lands, including National Monument lands, vegetation treatments, burn scars, rangeland allotments, and wilderness study areas. In collecting data, observing the soil, and examining the diverse vegetation using the AIM methodology, crews contribute to a massive, publicly available dataset that is used by land managers and in academia to inform and assess land management decisions.
Our crews begin the season with intensive technical training and SCC cultural orientation at the BLM office and various sites within the state. After this foundational period, the term is characterized by routine fieldwork to sample a target number of plots using the AIM methodology.
Within each plot, our crew members are tasked with identifying vegetation to species, recording species cover and composition data via line-point intercept and gap measurements, evaluating soil stability, and describing site conditions and soil pits. The crew's data is georeferenced and entered into an ArcGIS database using ruggedized tablets. These records will be later synthesized for critical land management planning reports.
Our crew members are also responsible for maintaining and cataloging botanical specimens throughout the field season. As the season progresses, members cultivate a deep understanding of the diversity of the local flora, learning tens to hundreds of plants by scientific name. Curiosity about the natural systems they encounter and a desire to share that curiosity and knowledge with their team are prerequisites for success.
Our crews operate from BLM Field Office bases, working directly with BLM personnel who provide invaluable mentorship to early-career individuals, investing in the future of natural resource management. This position offers an opportunity to build relationships within the agency and gain an understanding of its operations. The crew may also contribute to other public land management projects, encompassing wildlife, range, recreation, rare plant monitoring, and forestry.
Fieldwork is a dynamic experience, with crews navigating remote areas spanning the diverse ecosystems of the Southwest. Our teams must be prepared to drive long distances in company or government vehicles to various Field Office locations, hike several miles daily, often off the beaten path, while carrying equipment. These "hitches" involve long 10-hour workdays, with schedules typically structured as 8 days on and 6 days off or 4 days on and 3 days off. Camping for multiple nights and sharing camp duties is the norm, though occasional day trips may require a return to town at night in preparation for the next day's work. It's important to note that camping is the standard arrangement.
Given the unconventional and occasionally unpredictable schedule, adaptability is necessary for success. Fieldwork is, by nature, challenging, and we seek individuals who thrive outside their comfort zones. While camping, our crews should foster a positive and functional crew culture during and after project hours, recognizing the significance of attending to personal needs.
At the end of a hitch, crews return to the office for equipment management, data processing, unknown plant identification, and fieldwork planning (20%).
Please note that we do not provide housing, but we can discuss your options during the interview and hiring processes.
If you still need some pieces of personal camping gear by the start of the season, we can loan the necessary equipment until you can acquire your own.
It's essential to be aware that, as a partnership with a federal agency, we are subject to potential work stoppages and a lack of backpay in the event of a government shutdown.
Crew Member's Responsibilities:
The crew member actively contributes to data collection, management, and quality control. They assist with hitch preparation, planning, crew transportation using work vehicles, navigation to designated plots, equipment maintenance, and practical time tracking and management. Continuously, they expand their knowledge of local flora, soils, and landscapes, enhancing their expertise in botany, soil science, and the broader ecosystem. The crew member takes the initiative to communicate and pursue their personal and professional development goals throughout the season.
We seek individuals who consistently demonstrate discretion and judgment, embracing the responsibility of identifying, communicating, and proactively addressing safety issues. Whether these issues are technical, logistical, or interpersonal, the crew member partakes in problem identification, communication, and resolution. We expect their proactive approach and active involvement at every step. Furthermore, they complete mid-term and end-of-term written evaluations, both for self-assessment and for the crew lead. The crew member maintains effective and professional communication, fostering feedback systems among their fellow crew members. We value crew members who are passionate about sound scientific principles and are genuinely curious about the potential applications of AIM data. These individuals are driven to explore the intricacies of our natural world, recognizing the immense value of their contributions to preserving and understanding our precious ecosystems.
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 and associated identification, including an image of a signed social security card AND another acceptable primary form of documentation
Able to produce identification as stipulated by I-9 upon hire
Valid U.S. driver's license and insurable driving record
Able to pass Conservation Legacy's and the Department of Interior's background checks
Capable of standing and walking (at a minimum 6 miles/day on rough, steep, off-trail uneven terrain using a handheld GPS for route-finding), bending, crouching, and stooping for long periods 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 adhere to best practices for field safety, comfort, and low-impact 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
Capable of operating professionally both in an office and the field, demonstrating adaptability and versatility
Experience with Microsoft Suite Software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) or other data-collection software
Self-motivated, with a strong work ethic, and able both to work independently with limited supervision and to take direction and critical feedback.
Excellent judgment in assessing physical, mental, and emotional risk
Able to safely and effectively work in and around adverse conditions, including extreme heat, sun exposure, monsoonal rains, and hazardous wildlife (i.e., rattlesnakes, scorpions, biting/stinging insects, cattle, and horses)
Excited for the chance to have a close experience with the land while based in a federal land management agency
Able to participate for the entire duration of the program dates
Intentional education/experience with a formal or folk system to identify plants to species, especially in the field or from photos, pressed specimens, field guides, taxonomic keys, or other means
Familiar with New Mexico, Colorado, or neighboring flora
Familiar with taxonomic keys or deeper experience with floras from elsewhere in the world
Experience working in regions with high floristic diversity
Interest in large-scale, spatially-balanced monitoring designs
Experience or education using taxonomic soil keys or equivalent mechanisms to identify ecological sites
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 (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 working or recreating in rangeland or desert systems
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 complete 640 hours, which include at least 120 hours on federal lands through the PLC. PLC-certified alumni are not federal government employees, but they 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 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 file names are named using the following format:
Lastname_Firstname_AIM_CoverLetter and Lastname_Firstname_AIM_Resume
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 you are interested in multiple locations, please describe your preference in the application questionnaire and the 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 email@example.com with questions.
Keywords: ecological monitoring, botany, plants, botanical surveys, vegetation monitoring
This position is located in Las Cruces, NM. View the Google Map in full screen.