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 the Hudson Valley region. Such changes include, but are not limited to: trainings being held remotely, requesting symptomatic members to stay home from events, and asking members to test prior to Corps gatherings.
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.
Purpose of the Program:
To provide education about the natural and cultural history of Minnewaska State Park Preserve to patrons of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The goal of the education program is to foster preservation stewardship of the natural world in all individuals and germinate potential conservation leaders for the future. The member will also assist the Minnewaska staff to implement land management activities to include mitigating visitor use impacts, provide invasive species control, and collect data for ecological monitoring projects.
Community Needs that the Program Serves:
The program provides valuable education and recreation opportunities for members of both the local and distant community. People from all over the world visit Minnewaska, as do locals who adore this Park Preserve. Participation in a Minnewaska education program creates possibilities for patrons to exercise outdoors while learning about the natural world and local history. Exercise enhances good health, while learning about nature in a positive setting fosters a connection with the landscape that may lead to future stewardship. In an era of fewer in-person social interactions, Minnewaska’s programs create an opportunity for people of diverse life experiences to learn from each other as well.
Striking a balance between recreation and preservation happens best when negative impacts to the Park Preserve are addressed with timely and informed responses. Trail overuse/erosion, introduction and spread of invasive species, deer overbrowse and other recreation and biological impacts have the potential to significantly alter the landscape and threaten the rich bio-diversity found in the Northern Shawangunks. In order to keep this landscape intact, and also to offer world class recreation experiences to a growing audience, Minnewaska needs to identify impacts and prioritize mitigation efforts to ensure that the negative impacts do not cause a degradation of the natural experience available to park patrons. One focus of our education programming is to teach people about this wonderful area and how they can help to protect it.
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:
Come to Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a 24,000-acre gem featuring seven waterfalls, four sky lakes and over 85 miles of carriage roads and trails. Recreation opportunities include hiking, biking, swimming, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, horseback riding, scuba, and paddling. Be part of a dynamic team leading education and recreation programs for the public both on-site and off-site; implement existing environmental education programs and develop new and innovative ones; promote all programming through printed materials, press releases, social media and other means; organize volunteer events; staff, maintain and update the Visitor Center and its displays; participate in conservation stewardship work and manage the Volunteer Trails Stewardship program. Other miscellaneous duties may include assisting with various maintenance and operational needs. Candidate must be able to work a flexible schedule which will usually include one day out each weekend, as well as holidays and rarely evenings. The usual schedule of hours is 8:30am – 5pm with a half-hour for lunch. The following is an approximate breakdown of job duties:
A) 45% Provide environmental education and recreation programs for the public, including school groups, clubs and the public. This includes researching, developing and delivering education programs about the natural and cultural history of the site as well as creating and distributing promotional materials. The member will seek new audiences for education programs, including but not limited to homeschoolers, local libraries, pre-schoolers and other audiences. The member will assess all education programs and make any necessary updates to the programs. The member will also lead public recreation programs, such as hikes, year-round.
B) 10% Managing the Volunteer Trail Stewardship Program. Reviewing and revamping this program to attract more participation. Possible options include targeting retirees and other local SCA members and shifting the main location for volunteers to station and deliver their message to the Millbrook Mountain Footpath at the south end of Lake Minnewaska. The member will supervise volunteers and their recruitment, including providing an orientation of volunteers and monitoring of volunteers’ scheduling. The member will also monitor, manage and analyze any data collected by volunteers. Additionally, the member will act as a trail steward on busy days, educating the public about the principles of Leave No Trace. The member may also develop and implement a meaningful end of season event to thank all volunteers, if there’s interest.
F) 15% Trail Assessment and Maintenance. The member will work with park staff and volunteers to assess footpaths in the Park and make improvements to trails as needed, including structural repairs such as clearing water bars and building turnpikes. The member will work on developing a project for renovation and updates of the Rainbow Falls Footpath, specifically. In addition, the member will also assist with educational improvements, such as hanging signs or speaking to patrons about trail use. The member will also work with their supervisor to assist in supervision of the work of the NYNJ Trail Conference Trail Stewards.
G) 5% Assist with and possibly lead various conservation stewardship projects including surveys of Broom Crowberry and various invasive species of plants and insects. This may be done in collaboration with members of the NYS Parks Invasive Species Unit.
H) 10% Staff the Minnewaska Visitor Center, including but not limited to patron assistance and modest cleaning and maintenance of displays. Patron assistance includes answering phones, staffing the information desk and providing education about Leave No Trace and the natural and cultural history of Minnewaska. Additionally, the member will provide general information about the site, such as accurate directions to points of interest and education about Park policies such as the Carry-In/Carry-Out garbage policy and acceptable use of trails, etc.
I) 15% Participate in all SCA Corps-wide trainings and service projects, as well as project evaluation and reporting.
How the AmeriCorps Member’s Role Aligns with the Organization:
Through the education programming and trail improvements that the member provides, the following actions, which are key components of the mission of NYSOPRHP, will be accomplished:
- provide safe and enjoyable recreational and interpretive opportunities for all New York State residents and visitors
- encourage visitors to be responsible stewards of our valuable natural, historic and cultural resources
Goal 1: Develop and Teach Environmental Education Programs
1)Develop Education Programs: The member will create a series of education programs as follows:
A) Homeschooler series to be offered from March – June and September – November, once per month.
B) Develop Preschool Naturalists series of programs to be offered from April – October, with a goal of offering four or more programs.
C) Develop Afterschool series for local elementary schools to be offered in Spring, for a total of three to four programs per school.
D) Develop programs for developmentally disabled adults in small groups, during April-November, up to four programs, which can include volunteer projects such as weeding as well as strictly education and recreation programs.
E) Assist in the development of a new self-guided environmental education program for large groups of middle schoolers. This program will include education stations that will need to be created and a brochure that will guide teachers to these stations.
F) Jr. Naturalist Summer Series: Develop and lead environmental education programs for youth for the months of July-August. At least four programs should be offered.
G) Work with other staff to update the existing brochure of school field trip programs, including developing new programs to be added.
H) Create a series of pre-visit activities for the most popular school field trips. These will be shared with teachers to be used with their classes before their field trips here.
I) Assist with the development of a new, self-guided school field trip program for middle schoolers. This will include a walking route with suggested stopping points and accompanying talking points and activities for teachers to offer. It may be in a brochure format with a map, photos, education talking points and activities.
J) Assist with the development of the 2024 Adult Learning Summer Series by helping to promote the program, recruit possible teachers and developing and leading programs.
K) Assist with the development of a summer, live music series for the Park.
L) Create a monthly Instagram post on topics of cultural and natural history.
M)The member will also develop promotional materials with which to recruit participants for all programs, such as flyers, Instagram posts, email messages, etc; learn and lead the lesson; gather teaching tools and document all programs.
2) Leading Public Education and Recreation Programs: The member will develop and lead programs and assist other staff with their programs. The member will assure that these programs successfully deliver a safe, enjoyable and educational experience for visitors, with a goal of fostering enthusiastic and knowledgeable stewards of our natural world. The member will participate in either leading or co-leading approximately 40 programs over the course of their position, some of which will be observed and critiqued by the SCA member supervisor, who will provide beneficial feedback.
Goal 2: Recruit, Train and Supervise Volunteers for Trail Stewardship Program
January-April: The member will re-evaluate the existing program and consider making changes to attract more volunteers. Possible updates include pitching the program to local retirees, outing clubs, and scout clubs as well as shifting the preferred stewardship station to the closer, easier to access trailhead for Millbrook Mountain Footpath at the south end of Lake Minnewaska. Also consider finding a way to set up a small chair and easel on which to display an enlarged trail map and other educational tools at the stewardship station. The updated program could also be promoted via Instagram, press releases or other tools.
May: All new volunteers will be oriented and vetted, then shown how to sign up for shifts and collect data. The member will accompany new volunteers on their first shifts to assure that they interact with the public in a positive and meaningful manner. The member will provide any support needed by the NYNJ Trail Conference Trail Stewards during this time too, as they will be new to being trail stewards.
May-October: The member will follow up with volunteers to assess their comfort level and help problem solve any concerns they may have throughout the remainder of the position. This includes managing all teaching and data collection tools, assuring that volunteers consistently have all the tools required to do their job well. Additionally, the member will act as a trail steward, as time allows, on busy days.
November: The member will enter all the collected data into a spreadsheet and interpret it into useful graphs or other visual tools that can be leveraged by management for continuing support of the program and trails. Also, the member may organize and lead an appreciation event for all volunteers.
Goal 3: Trails Assessments and Improvements
Learn the Trails of Minnewaska: The member will be given time to hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe (dependent on designated trail use) the most frequently used trails during this time. While on the trails, the member will make notes of any improvements or updates that need to be made and report these to the education team and park management. These may include erosion, flooding, signage needed, re-routes suggested, litter clean-up, brushing in of social trails, etc.
Develop an All-Corps Trail Project Proposal: The member will develop a proposal for an all-corps, three-day- long, trail project to take place on Rainbow Falls Footpath in the Huntington Ravine for the Patriot Days of Remembrance on 9/11. This proposal is due in March. (Another option would be to submit a proposal for National Trails Day, a one day event on the first day of June.) If the proposal is accepted, the member will lead the project, recruiting volunteer project leaders from the NYNJ Trail Conference, helping to purchase materials needed, arranging for equipment, working with management to accommodate camping for the members and anything else needed.
April – November;
Trail Maintenance and Updates: The member will help assess up to three trails and also work on improving trail conditions, up to half a mile, with members of the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, as time allows. The member will lead a team of volunteers for the annual I Love My Park Day trail project and will also assist with organizing this event as needed. The member will also help improve education through the installation of signage on trails as needed.
Trail Discovery Posts: Once a month, the member will create an Instagram post about a specific hiking route at the Park. This post will provide an opportunity to teach hikers about Leave No Trace and trail orientation and also to promote the routes that we want to direct the public onto and recruit volunteers for trail stewardship.
Outing Club Volunteer Days: The member will work directly with the leaders of the SUNY New Paltz Outing Club and other local, college or public school outing clubs, to set up a volunteer trailwork day in Spring and/or Fall. The member will help to choose the project and set up the logistics for the project.
Goal 4: Social Media Education and Monitoring
1) The member will monitor social media and other digital platforms in order to correct inaccurate information about Minnewaska’s trails and their use. If inaccuracies are found, the member will alert Minnewaska management and propose a strategy to correct that inaccuracy as quickly as possible.
2) The member will create up to ten environmental education posts to be put on Instagram during the duration of the internship. The member will propose topics, including a short outline of the post and share these with the education team. Once they are approved, the member will create the post and then share the post again with the education team for edits and approval. The focus of the posts will be specific to Minnewaska and will provide valuable education to visitors to the site. In fact, these could be developed into a monthly series of topics of natural and cultural history. A list of the intended topics can be developed and fleshed out in winter.
- List any specific qualifications for AmeriCorps member:
- BA/BS in biology, environmental science, education or related field preferred
Skills/Knowledge/Training Necessary to be a successful AmeriCorps Member in this position:
- Communications skills- both written and verbal.
- Experience providing informal interpretation and/or environmental education programming
- Education program development
- Focused, self-motivated individual, able to work both independently and as a team member
- Volunteer recruitment and coordination
- Skills developed through experience and or training in trail building/repairing and removal of invasive species
- Field experience in data collection
- Ability to use GPS/GIS to track activities performed
- Experience navigating and traveling in remote areas
- Able to work easily in close quarters with others, sharing space and tools
- Ability to interpret the natural and cultural history of the area
- Ability to identify local flora and fauna
- Familiarity with Phenology Monitoring, Project FeederWatch, or other Citizen Science projects
- Familiarity with New York State Learning Standards
- Familiarity with graphic design
- Basic topographic and trail map knowledge
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Environmental Leadership Institute, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WILD curricula, and professional development. Optional trainings include Leave No Trace, Mental Health First Aid, and other opportunities that arise.
Position ID: PO-00736092
Expected Dates: January 22, 2024 - November 18, 2024
Handicap Accessible?: No
Main Area of Focus: Education and Interpretation
AmeriCorps Eligible: Eligible
Driving Logistics: 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?
C.Partner will pay the SCA to provide housing allowance for the member.
It is the member's responsibility to find suitable housing in the area.
US Citizenship: Yes