Zookeeping Interpreter (PO-00736088)

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.

This position is located in Bear Mountain, NY which is located roughly 3 miles south of Highland Falls. 

Purpose of the Program: 

This position spans both our education and zookeeping programs. The Trailside Education Program seeks to bring visitors into meaningful contact with the plants, animals, geology, and history of the Hudson Highlands, specifically what can be found along the trails of Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. It is our goal to foster in all visitors a greater understanding, appreciation, and respect for the natural world. We achieve this goal through informal education for individuals and families; guided tours for schools and other groups; special events open to the public; a summer day camp for children entering grades 1-8; and topical presentations in spring, summer, and fall. The Trailside Zookeeping Program, which is integral to education and the visitor experience, provides husbandry for our local injured and non-releasable wildlife housed along Trailside’s nature trail, as well as live fish, reptiles, and amphibians (most non-releasable) in one of the museums. The zookeepers feed, maintain, and care for the live animal collection. Given that many of the animals have permanent injuries, this care includes careful observation and monitoring of animal health. It is a shared goal of the Zookeeping and Education Programs for the live animals at Trailside to serve as ambassadors for their kind in our effort to educate our visitors about the natural world and our role as responsible stewards.


Community Needs that the Program Serves: 

Bear Mountain State Park receives over a million visitors annually and, conservatively, one in ten of these visitors, or 100,000, explore Trailside’s nature trail, animal exhibits, and museums. As an affordable destination within an hour’s drive of the New York metro region, Trailside serves a diverse audience, including many patrons from underserved communities. The facility is designed for a self-directed experience. Visitors are guided by directional signage through a sequence of exhibits, displays, and museums. However, this experience is greatly enhanced through direct engagement of the public by trained staff. These personal interactions and the ensuing exchange of information add tremendously to the Trailside experience. This type of interactive education resonates especially well when paired with staff conducting active animal care or demonstrations. Working with the zookeeping and education staff, the Zookeeping Interpreter is needed to expand our capacity for direct interactions with our diverse audience, to more fully realize our educational goals.

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 live animal exhibits at Trailside provide a valuable tool for engaging the public about local wildlife and nature in State Parks. The importance of the animals to Trailside patrons was made clear in visitor surveys conducted in 2012, during which they cited the animals as the most memorable part of their visit. Many also expressed a longing to know more about the animals.

The Zookeeping Interpreter (ZI) position is designed to address this need. Through our orientation and training, the ZI will learn important tools and skills for both zookeeping and environmental interpretation. The ZI will work with the Zookeepers, Educator, and other staff to enhance the interpretive experience for patrons of Trailside. The ZI will directly interact with the public through small impromptu “teaching moments” at the exhibits and more formal live animal presentations. The ZI will receive hands-on experience in animal care and husbandry combined with ongoing training in education and interpretation. The ZI will also collaborate with the Education staff to conduct the Trailside Discovery summer camp, seasonal public programs, special events and guided tours. Additionally, the ZI may assist Trailside staff and other interns with ongoing volunteer projects, including restoration of the Trailside grounds to a native plant community and general upkeep of the facilities.

Housing is included. You will be required to be a respectful roommate and responsible occupant of the house, including cleaning personal and common areas, light yard work, and reporting maintenance needs.


How the AmeriCorps Member’s Role Aligns with the Organization: 

The AmeriCorps Member will be an integral member of the Trailside Education and Zookeeping Programs, allowing for expanded animal care, live animal education programs, reaching larger audiences and additional programming that would otherwise be impossible.

Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:

Goal 1: Provide interpretation at exhibits for visitors.

Goal 2: Become proficient in the zookeeping routine and handling education animals for programs.

Goal 3: Develop and conduct lessons for summer camp program, public programs and special events.

List any specific qualifications for AmeriCorps member (i.e. must be of a certain age):

  • Valid Driver’s License for 3+ years with clean driving record
  • Must have own vehicle.
  • Ability to pass a background check
  • At least 18 years of age



Comfort and enjoyment interacting with people of all ages, especially children. Must be comfortable working with animals. Prior experience at a zoo, animal hospital, or similar facility is desired, though not a pre-requisite. Must be detail oriented, self-motivated, dependable, and have excellent communication skills. Confident driving a 15-passenger van and pickup trucks.


General knowledge of local flora and fauna is desired.


Amount of the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award being offered for successful completion of the member’s term of service: $6,495

Amount of living allowance member will receive:

$350/week living allowance

$1,000/month housing allowance upstate

$1,100/month housing allowance in NYC


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 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-00736088

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

Bear Mountain State Park
Bear Mountain, NY 12082

Handicap Accessible?: No

Main Area of Focus: Visitor Services and Site Operations

Further Details

AmeriCorps Eligible: Eligible

Driving Logistics: Required

A personal vehicle is required to access amenities such as grocery stores, libraries, etc. as well as travel to Hudson Valley Corps trainings and events.

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

Housing is a shared house overlooking the Hudson River at Bear Mountain State Park.

Indoor/Outdoor: Combination

US Citizenship: Yes

Student Conservation Association