Invasive Species Project Steward

Student Conservation Association - Wallkill, NY

Full-time
Expected Dates
January 14, 2020 to November 10, 2020
Site
Minnewaska State Park Preserve NYS OPRHP
Position ID
PO-00728874
This position requires that you become enrolled in AmeriCorps. If you are selected for this program please be sure to accept AmeriCorps during the SCA offer process. No travel allowance will be offered for this position even if it is stated on your confirmation of acceptance.

SCA Hudson Valley AmeriCorps partners with State and non-profit agencies to address the conservation needs of the Hudson River Watershed region. Corps members are placed at individual host sites, where service activities range from providing environmental education to underserved youth, to restoring streambanks along the Hudson River, and beyond. Members join together regularly for trainings, service projects, or other events.

This position is located in Wallkill, New York.

Purpose of the Program:
The mission of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is to provide safe and enjoyable recreational and interpretive opportunities for all New York State residents and visitors and to be responsible stewards of our valuable natural, historic, and cultural resources.
The Invasive Species Unit (ISU), is part of the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning (DESP) within OPRHP. The ISU’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the intrinsic values of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in New York State Parks and Historic Sites through the prevention, control, and management of invasive species. This is accomplished by identifying, prioritizing, and guiding invasive species projects and initiatives within the State Parks and Historic Site system.

The ISU works with statewide and regional staff towards the responsible stewardship of our natural resources throughout the New York State Park system. The ISU directs the management of invasive species with a focus on the protection of rare, threatened or endangered species and significant natural communities.

The ISU is led by the Invasive Species Biologist and includes two coordinators and an educator. Projects include surveying, monitoring and management of terrestrial and aquatic invasive species as well as surveying and monitoring for forest pests and pathogens.

Community Needs that the Program Serves:
Invasive species are non-native species that can cause harm to the environment, the economy or to human health. Invasive species threaten nearly every aspect of our world and are one of the greatest threats to New York’s biodiversity. They have changed the way our natural areas look, feel, and function. They cause or can contribute to habitat degradation and loss, the loss of native flora and fauna, loss of recreational opportunities and income and even threaten our food supply and drinking water. The cost of invasive species on the United States has been estimated at as much as $120 billion in damages every year. The ISU works to identify, monitor, control and/or eradicate invasive species throughout New York State Parks.

Values and Standards of the Program:
SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.

AmeriCorps Member Duties and Responsibilities:
The member will receive a thorough introduction to invasive plants and insects that can be found in New York State. They will gain hands-on experience in the field of invasive species management, and will be able to participate in all aspects of management – from education and outreach, to hands-on control and monitoring, to the development of guidance documents to assist in invasive species identification and control. The member will also work with State Parks’ Stewardship staff to assist in the creation of Invasive Species Management Plans for various State Parks.
The member will have the opportunity to participate in educational outreach activities, such as organizing volunteer surveys for invasive forest pests, developing invasive species education programs, leading trainings, and creating education/outreach materials. They will receive formal training in iMap Invasives– an online database which is used by many organizations throughout New York State to track and monitor infestations. During the field season, the member will assist field staff with invasive species surveys, monitoring and control projects.
The position will be based out of the Invasive Species Field Office located at Minnewaska State Park Preserve near New Paltz, NY. There will be the opportunity to travel throughout New York visiting several of the system’s most spectacular parks from the shores of Long Island to the mighty Niagara Falls. The member will be introduced to a wide array of projects and topics within natural resource stewardship and get the chance to interact with staff from across the agency and its partners. The position will entail a combination of office and field work designed to suit the experience, skills, and interests of the member.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
Compile, organize and analyze data from past invasive species management projects and create maps using ArcGIS (25%)
Develop education materials, organize trainings and events, and coordinate volunteers in key citizen-science initiatives (15%)
Assist with the coordination and standardization of invasive species surveys and data collection protocols (10%)
Conduct literature reviews and gather information to develop guidance documents, manuals, plans and reports to be used by Invasive Species Unit and other staff (10%)
Contribute to on-the-ground invasive species management including manual/mechanical control, biocontrol release and monitoring, and site restoration efforts (10%)
Conduct invasive species surveys and monitoring including early detection of new species, site assessments, and pre- and post-treatment monitoring (10%)
Participate in post-treatment tree canopy monitoring including assisting with tree climbing operations (5%)
Participate in SCA trainings, service projects and other member development events (15%)

How the AmeriCorps Member’s Role Aligns with the Organization:
The member will play an integral role in the ISU by supporting the Project Coordinators in the overall management of invasive species in state parks, as well as working closely with Parks’ Stewardship staff, increasing the direct impact the program can have protecting the natural resources within state parks.

Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:
Goal 1: Help to improve the Invasive Species Unit’s ability to track, analyze, and evaluate projects by compiling, organizing, analyzing and mapping data.

Goal 2: Assist in the creation of guidance documents such as manuals, fact sheets, and Invasive Species Management Plans.

Goal 3: Deliver environmental education programs and develop educational materials in an effort in increase the awareness and knowledge of invasive species identification, spread and control.

Candidate Qualifications:
Ability to pass a background check.
Valid driver license of 3 years with a clean driving record.
Knowledge and experience with ArcGIS is strongly preferred.

Skills/Knowledge/Training Necessary to be a successful AmeriCorps Member in this position:

Skills: Ability to hike long distances in varying terrain and perform physically demanding work outdoors. General comfort being outdoors in all weather conditions.

Knowledge: Desire to learn about invasive species identification and management. Some knowledge and identification skills of flora and fauna including invasive species and forest pests common to New York State is desirable, but not required. Strong interest in and commitment to environmental stewardship and team-oriented approach to solving environmental challenges.

Training: Basic backcountry navigation skills (i.e. ability to navigate off-trail using a map and compass/GPS) are desired, but not required.

Benefits:
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive a taxable $200/week living allowance
Upon successful completion of the term, members receive a taxable Full-time Segal Education Award through AmeriCorps.
Student loan forbearance and interest repayments for federal student loan through AmeriCorps.
Eligible for free health insurance
Eligible for childcare assistance through AmeriCorps

Training Opportunities:
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WILD curricula, and professional development. Optional trainings include Leave No Trace, American Canoe Association Quick Start Your Canoe, and other opportunities that arise.

Professional Development Opportunities
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WET, Project WILD and Project Learning Tree curricula, and professional development. Optional trainings include Leave No Trace, American Canoe Association Level 1, and other opportunities that arise.

During the spring/summer field season, the member will be able to participate in the Invasive Species Strike Teams’ and Forest Health Specialists’ training programs. This will give them a good introduction to the identification and control of the invasive plant species and invasive forest pests/pathogens that are currently threatening New York State Parks. They will also receive formal training in iMap – the online database which is used by many organizations throughout New York State to track and monitor infestations.

Throughout the field season, the member will be able to gain hands-on experience in the field of invasive species management. They will assist NYS OPRHP’s Invasive Species Strike Teams in invasive species removal projects throughout eastern New York.
Handicap Accessible?
No
Main Area of Focus
Natural Resources Mgmt
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Biology
some coursework or experience
Forestry
some coursework or experience
Ecology & Restoration
some coursework or experience
Leadership Experience
competent with supervision
Plant Identification
some experience
Public Speaking
some experience
Writing/Publishing
some experience
Volunteer Coordination
some experience
Working with Children
competent without supervision
Further Details
AmeriCorps Eligible
Eligible
Driving Logistics
Valid Drivers License Needed
Personal Vehicle Required
A personal vehicle is required for travel between housing and the park, to access amenities such as grocery stores, libraries, etc. as well as travel to Hudson Valley Corps trainings and events.
Housing or Stipend Provided?
Yes
Indoor/Outdoor
Indoor
US Citizenship
Required