6 Places You Didn’t Know SCA Was Conserving


SCA volunteers get around and, as we celebrate 60 years of service to nature, we share 6 sites where you may not expect to find SCA members — but they’re there, protecting and restoring parts of America’s natural legacy.

1. Vashon Island, Washington

In SCA’s earliest days, its HQ bounced around with some frequency – from Liz Putnam’s family home on Long Island to Rockefeller Center and Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt’s former home. By the early 1970s, however, SCA was based just a short ferry ride from Seattle on Vashon Island. Although today our national office is located in Arlington, VA, we haven’t totally skipped out on what is now known as Vashon-Maury Island.

In collaboration with the Vashon-Maury Land Trust, SCA interns restore and protect native habitat along two major island watersheds, Judd Creek and Shinglemill Creek. Interns conduct stream and wetland plantings, remove invasive plant and amphibian species, and maintain trails. With beaches, restaurants, art galleries, and farm stands selling freshly picked berries, the island has something for everyone – including significantly above-average intern accommodations. No tents or dorm-style bunks here. SCA interns reside in a three-bedroom apartment with views of Fisher Pond preserve, the headwaters to the Shinglemill watershed.

2. Alaska’s Northern-most Coast

Some 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, SCA interns study the breeding practices of a sea duck known as the common eider. But there’s nothing common about these positions. From the remote North Slope village of Kaktovik, interns motor through the ice-choked Beaufort Sea in 16-foot inflatable boats to visit barrier islands and trap hens, collect tissue samples, measure and band birds, and monitor nests.

Our partner, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, “sells” these opportunities by noting “field assistants typically work seven days a week, 10+ hours a day while in the field…crews will hike up to 15+ miles per day in cold, wet, windy weather, and travel in unpredictable seas, up to 100 km from the nearest village…staff can be cut-off from any outside help for several days.” Oh yeah, they also mention the prevalence of surly polar bears. But eager candidates line up for this position every year. Apply now for 2018.

3. Guam

Yes, this Micronesian island and US territory in the South Pacific, home to fewer people than Oxnard, CA, is a regular SCA destination. Interns provide biological monitoring support and counsel to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Marianas (NAVFAC Marianas), with a focus on the US Marine Corps Guam Military Relocation Environmental Program.

Essentially, the interns provide technical oversight to help the military avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate any environmental impact caused by construction contractors, especially in the area of endangered, threatened, and high value species of concern. The Department of Defense is one of the nation’s largest public landholders, and this is one of many DoD conservation positions SCA fills every year.

4. Grant’s Tomb

Yes, the set-up for one of the lamest jokes around and no, not every SCA hitch is isolated. General Grant’s Tomb National Memorial, located on the Hudson River in Manhattan and is part of the National Parks of New York Harbor – a unit that also includes Governor’s Island, Federal Hall, the African Burial Ground National Monument and the recently designated Stonewall National Monument.

Interns lead formal and informal talks, guided tours, historic education programs and multi-media presentations, and also utilize social media to broaden awareness of these urban parks. Shifts can include weekends but this is the city that never sleeps…you’ll find plenty to fill your off-hours whenever they take place.

5. The White House

Interns here, also known as President’s Park, specialize in interpreting the White House as well as the monuments, memorials, and other statues located on the Ellipse and in Lafayette Park. These sites are all part of the National Park Service and, combined, last year they drew more than one million visitors.

One day you’ll be leading a tour group, the next coordinating a White House history camp, and the next conducting the annual Easter Egg Hunt. History is huge here and programs range from the War of 1812 to legendary First Ladies. Social media channels are another traditional priority. In addition, White House interns are guaranteed weekly meetings with a Park Service mentor to explore potential careers and learn more about the national parks.

6. Marin Headlands

Okay, maybe you did guess this but did you know this is where to hike The SCA Trail? From hikingproject.com: “A hike along the SCA Trail will provide a breathless vista of the Golden Gate Bridge and the surrounding Bay. When the sun is shining and the fog is lifted, hiking along this trail will make memories that will last a lifetime. Every resident of Marin County and San Francisco county need to experience what the Golden Gate looks like from this north side. The trail is cut into the side of the mountain and faces westward. This well-maintained trail is a very well kept secret – don’t miss it!”

For more 60th Anniversary content click here!

Student Conservation Association