Thousand Islands Region Environmental Education Steward (PO-00736131)

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. Due to Covid-19, events and trainings are subject to change in response to an increase in the number of cases in upstate New York. Such changes include but are not limited to: trainings being held remotely, elimination of large-scale gatherings, and a reduction of education programs. 

New York’s Thousand Islands Region is seeking enthusiastic Environmental Educators for the 2024 season. Apply to be a SCA New York State Parks Corps member today!

About the NYS Parks Corps: Service activities range from providing environmental education and interpretation, to trail restoration, wildlife management, and organizing volunteer events. All 21 Parks Corps members will gather regularly in Central NY for SCA trainings and other professional development opportunities as they arise. (**See Covid caveat above for potential exceptions to 2024 events) Members share housing in groups of 1-4 members per location. NYS Parks Corps members serve under the direction of regional Parks staff to assist in accomplishing the mission of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; 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.

This position is located in New York’s Thousand Island Region, with housing provided in Wellesley Island State Park.

Purpose of the Position: Wellesley Island State Park is the largest park in the Thousand Islands Region. Serving at Minna Anthony Common Nature Center (MACNC) will be a valuable experience involving exceptional biodiversity, diverse park patrons, seasonal school and public programming, and stewardship projects. Members will serve as essential education staff – leading programming, stewarding the nature center, grounds, and exhibits, and connecting with the larger community. They will be a vital team member that contributes to making MACNC a flagship nature center and a treasured resource for the community.

Community Needs that the Position Serves:  As front line staff, members will be greeting and interacting with park patrons daily. Members will be visible park ambassadors – whether at the nature center, out on the trails, or walking through the parking lot – committed to being friendly and welcoming to all. 
Connecting park patrons to the natural world is the core principle of our programming. Members will be leading public programs, teaching school groups, and facilitating activities at special events. They will be trained to design family-based programming, inclusive and adapted to engage all audiences. 
Members will serve as stewards of the nature center, and surrounding gardens and trails. They will provide animal care for our aquarium and terrarium interpretive exhibits. Additionally, members will connect with the larger community through social media, off-site programs and events, and collaborative projects with local environmental organizations.

AmeriCorps Member Duties and Responsibilities: 

  1. SCA Focus Area (40%): Each member will work independently to fulfill specific responsibilities within a focus area. Members are expected to follow direction and touch base often while also being a self-starter, collaborative, and flexible. This will require self-leadership and at many times self-directed learning. Our three focus areas are: Animal Care and Aquarium Husbandry; Gardening and Land Stewardship; Social Media and Communications. See Focus Area description below.
  2. Design and lead programs (30%): Public Programs: Member will lead and develop programs for the general public. Topics can include natural sciences, ecology, environmental conservation, outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, or historic interpretation. We encourage you to develop programming that merges your own interests with the topics above. School Programs: Members may lead K-12 field trips and/or virtual field trips. The majority of our classes are K-4. (Pending Covid regulations). Outdoor Recreation: Members may lead Voyageur Canoe paddling tours, kayaking, snowshoeing, bird watching, or hiking programs. (Pending Covid regulations)
  3. Nature Center Stewardship (20%): The Nature Center and surrounding trails will be your second home – as a team we all participate in visitor services and daily maintenance/operations of the building and grounds. We are the ones to ensure that the Nature Center and grounds are inviting as well as safe for the public. We strive to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere by greeting visitors with hospitality and providing knowledgeable interpretative information. Visitor services may include staffing our front desk, answering phones, offering trail suggestion, and providing interpretive tours. This also includes daily cleaning and tidying tasks, resetting exhibits, cleaning and restocking bathrooms, sweeping and mopping floors, washing and de-cobwebbing windows. Groundwork may include hiking trails to report conditions, cutting back hanging limbs, watering and weeding gardens. 
  4. Administrative assistance (10%): Members will help Director, Education Coordinator, and Outreach Coordinator on various Nature Center tasks and projects as needed.

SCA Focus Areas:

  1. Animal Husbandry and Aquarium Care- This member will be the primary person responsible for feeding and caring for our live animals and maintaining the vivariums they inhabit. The person who takes this focus area will need to enjoy taking care of animals and be comfortable interacting with turtles, fish, frogs, and a chipmunk. They will need to recognize animal diet needs, provide scheduled feeding, and maintain current and accurate records on animal health and behavior. They will be responsible for routine cleaning of all live-animal vivarium exhibits, Wetland Discovery Room visitor area, and animal room. They will get wet and dirty cleaning filters on a regular basis, climbing into 300-gallon aquariums to clean glass and rocks, and will use a sump pump to drain aquariums. We are in a state of continuous improvement, and this member will help develop and install exhibit enhancements. Knowledge gained in this focus area will enable the member to deliver interpretation to visitors in our Wetland Discovery Room and related wildlife-focused programming.
  2. Gardening and Land Stewardship- This member will be the primary person responsible for caring for our gardens and grounds. We have 7 native plant gardens and a Pollinator House. During the growing season daily tasks will include turning compost, weeding, watering gardens, deadheading flowers, and filling birdbaths. In the colder months they will be responsible for maintaining our bird feeders in conjunction with birdwatching programming. We are in a state of continuous improvement, and this member will help develop a new compost demonstration site on the Nature Center campus. This member should have an interest in gardening, composting, pollinators, and birds. Knowledge gained in this focus area will enable the member to deliver interpretation to visitors at our Pollinator House and related programming topics such as habitat ecology, botany, ornithology, entomology, and sustainability.
  3.  Digital Media and Design- This member will be the primary person responsible for managing and posting daily content to our Facebook and Instagram pages, photographing all programs, making event flyers, and program publicity. This member will print and replenish flyers at the Nature Center and routinely distribute promotional material throughout the Thousand Islands region. They will also assist with our website and quarterly printed newsletter. We are in a state of continuous improvement, and this member will help develop our online presence by creating educational video content. The person who takes this focus area will need to have an interest in visual communication such as graphic design and photography, and be a good writer and storyteller. Strong organizational, research, and team collaboration skills are a plus. This member will serve as photographer-in-residence, documenting Nature Center programming and spending time outside photographing the natural world. Knowledge gained in this focus area will enable the member to deliver interpretation on various naturalist topics and gain skills in virtual education. 

Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:
Goal 1: Become proficient in focus area tasks.
Goal 2: Lead and develop environmental education programming. 
Goal 3: Build successful relationships with teammates and community members.

Candidate Qualifications:

  • Valid driver license and personal vehicle.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Two years of college or other post-secondary school experience in a relevant field.

Skills, Knowledge, and Training:

  • Strong interest in the natural world and outdoor education.
  • Willing to develop public speaking skills.
  • Emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal communication skills.
  • Friendly, courteous, and inclusive of people of various backgrounds.
  • Self-awareness and ability to resolve conflict maturely. 
  • Professional demeanor and positive attitude. 
  • Responsibility and good judgment. 
  • Initiative and ability to work independently. 
  • Creativity and attention to detail.
  • Organized and timely to meet goals and deadlines.
  • Reliability and willing to be an accountable team player.
  • Collaborative and willing to articulate ideas and provide constructive feedback. 
  • Flexibility to adapt to weather-driven schedule changes.
  • Comfortable interacting with the public.  
  • Comfortable working with children.
  • Comfortable working around animals (live animal exhibits, leashed dogs, wildlife).
  • Comfortable paddling small watercraft (kayak and canoe).
  • Willing to clean and help with daily maintenance duties indoors and out. 

Amount of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award being offered for successful completion of the member’s term of service: $6,495.00

Amount of living allowance member will receive: $350/week living allowance

Healthcare coverage (if applicable): Eligible for free health insurance
Childcare coverage (if applicable): Eligible for childcare assistance through AmeriCorps

Student loan forbearance and interest payments, (if the member qualifies): Eligible for Federal Student Loan forbearance and interest payment deferment through AmeriCorps for qualifying student loans.

Training Opportunities: All SCA NYS Parks Corps members receive professional development. Optional trainings include NYSOEA, the American Canoe Association Quick Start Your Canoe Training, and other opportunities that arise through the SCA and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Position ID: PO-00736131

Expected Dates: January 22, 2024 - November 18, 2024

Wellesley Island State Park
44927 Cross Island Road
Fineview, NY 13640

Handicap Accessible?: No

Main Area of Focus: Education and Interpretation

Further Details

AmeriCorps Eligible: Eligible

Driving Logistics: Recommended

A personal vehicle is required to access amenities such as grocery store, libraries, etc. as well as travel to NYS Parks Corps trainings and events.

Housing or Stipend Provided?
A. Partner will provide suitable housing for the member

The SCA members will share a two-bedroom cabin overlooking Eel Bay within Wellesley Island State Park.

Indoor/Outdoor: Combination

US Citizenship: Yes

Student Conservation Association