Heritage Interpreters (PO-00735285)

Heritage Interpreters will focus their efforts on the successful engagement of educational opportunities and formal / informal programming related to visitor services at the Pactola Visitor Center on the Black Hills National Forest. The facility is located along scenic Highway 385 in the central Black Hills, within the Mystic Ranger District. The 2023 operational time period is Friday, May 26 (Memorial Day Weekend) through Monday, September 4 (Labor Day Weekend). The proposed hours of operation are seven-day coverage from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The primary function of the position is to provide the highest level of customer service to all external and internal customers who visit the facility and surrounding Pactola Reservoir. Heritage Interpreters are responsible for greeting and welcoming visitors, working an information desk, answering phones, distributing trail guides and other relevant publications, responding to and/or forwarding online messages, leading and conducting Junior Forest Ranger activities and other spontaneous interpretive programs, conducting roving interpretation on the outdoor patio and within the interior exhibits, and educating visitors about the various natural and cultural history stories across the Forest.  Heritage Interpreters will also work closely with the Forest's non-profit cooperative partner – Black Hills Parks and Forests Association (BHPF) – assisting with the sales of association products and motorized trail permits. This position will be responsible for working 40 hours each week, which will include most weekends and holidays.

Essential Functions of Heritage Interpreters:

1. Greet and welcome visitors, process retail sales for BHPF, answer questions, and inform visitors about the Black Hills National Forest.

2. Stay informed and educated about Forest happenings and be prepared to provide visitor orientation accordingly.

3. Answer phones, respond to or forward inquiries for information, trail guides, wildlife viewing, cultural history, etc.

4. Be proficient with database entries, such as recording visitation numbers and facility statistics on a routine basis.

5. Actively promote the educational programs and interpretive activities taking place on the Forest.

6. Assist with maintaining an attractive, inviting, and professional look and feel in the visitor center, including restocking brochures and educational handouts, maintaining exhibits and displays, and cleaning visitor areas, such as sidewalks, picnic areas, and restrooms.

7. Learn and maintain skills to operate BHPF point of sale system to facilitate customer transactions.

8. Assist with researching new and creative ways to promote the cultural diversity (and history) on the Forest in the visitor center and celebrate successes with visitors and fellow staff.

9. Assist with the planning, coordinating, and conducting of special events in (and around) the visitor center and near the Pactola Reservoir. Take the lead on overseeing these events when assigned.

10. Other duties as assigned. 

Most important, Heritage Interpreters are an intricate part of the overall Recreation Program on the Forest.  The selected individuals need to possess knowledge of federal trust and treaty responsibilities, awareness of Indian law, an understanding of tribal world views, values, and/or cultures, and experience with indigenous agriculture and/or subsistence practices and/or traditional ecological knowledge.  Solid applicants will also possess time management skills, enhanced communication abilities, and a passion to engage visitors with immersive ways to learn about the Black Hills National Forest.  With high motivation toward heritaqe interpretation, outdoor education and customer service, these positions have the opportunity to create positive and memorable experiences for thousands of visitors to western South Dakota.

Selective Placement Factors
1. Each selected Heritage Interpreter is required to be an American Indian / Native American.
2. Each selected Heritage Interpreter is required to have knowledge and experience working in, with, and/or for Tribal governments, tribal entities, and/or tribal organizations.
3. Each selected Heritage Interpreter is required to have knowledge and experience understanding the unique legal status of Tribal governments and the trust and treaty responsibility and role of the federal government.
4. Preference will be given to those applicants with an educational background (or formal degree) in American Indian Studies and/or Native American Studies.
5. Preference will also be given to those applicants that have taken or completed studies within Lakota / Dakota / Nakota cultures.

A large reservoir surrounded by rolling hills covered with pine trees, with a sunset in the background.
Pactola Reservoir at dusk. / Black Hills National Forest

Compensation Details
$600/week* Living Allowance
$32/week* Commuting Allowance
$1,100* round-trip Travel Allowance, paid once
– On-site Housing 
– Eligible for Public Land Corps Hiring Authority (upon completion of 640 hours work)

*All allowances subject to applicable federal, state, and local taxes.

Note:  This position is not eligible for the AmeriCorps education award.

For SCA’s COVID guidance, please refer to www.thesca.org/covid.

Position ID: PO-00735285

Expected Dates: May 22, 2023 - September 10, 2023

1019 North 5th Street
Custer, SD 57730

Training Provided: Training activities include CPR/First Aid, customer service, educational programming, and mentoring opportunities. Furthermore, the Forest plans to work with Heritage Interpreters to create an Individual Development Plan that complements personal goals.

Educational/Recreational Opportunities: Multiple museums, art galleries, and several public land agencies are found throughout the Black Hills. The local communities offer an array of organizations and clubs, sports and fitness complexes, libraries, and special events.

Handicap Accessible?: Yes

Main Area of Focus: Visitor Services and Site Operations

Further Details

AmeriCorps Eligible: Not Eligible

Driving Logistics: Required

Heritage Interpreters will need to provide their own transportation to and from the Pactola Visitor Center, with a need for a vehicle related to personal use, appointments, grocery shopping, days off, etc.

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

The Black Hills National Forest offers a bunkhouse within walking distance of the Supervisor's Office in Custer, South Dakota.  The two-floor, four-bedroom housing unit is based on shared quarters, with a furnished kitchen, two bathrooms, and one shared living space. Kitchen utensils and pots and pans are available for use. The bedrooms are furnished with two twin beds, normally with two individuals in each bedroom. Staffing sizes vary from year to year, with one or up to eight individuals using the bunkhouse.


Indoor/Outdoor: Combination

US Citizenship: Yes

Student Conservation Association