Gap Year

Explore SCA’s team-based gap year options.
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Search our database for individual gap year internships.
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What is a gap year?

A gap year is a “academic pause” usually taken after high school and before college when students take time to explore the world and themselves. Some students decide to travel or volunteer, while others spend time working in order to gain life experience and perspective.

What are the benefits of a gap year?

Research shows that students who take a gap year perform better academically and have more focus and sense of purpose when they return to school. Surveyed students who took time off said they had experienced personal growth, gained newfound maturity, and found clarity about their life direction.

To improve their employability, some students look to gain practical field experience or test their interests in career choices. A number of students participate in service-learning projects to develop leadership skills and to become more active and invested community members. Recent reports reveal that students who have completed a gap year experience higher levels of job satisfaction and civic participation compared to national norms.

Does SCA offer gap year opportunities?

You’ll find opportunities with SCA in a variety of fields and locations, ranging from team-based programs to individual internships in fields ranging from climate change to habitat restoration to environmental education.

SCA began the youth conservation corps movement, and we now have over 60 years of history working with youth in hands-on conservation service. Over 90,000 young people have gone through the SCA program since it began. Our programs have been proven by the Search Institute to provide youth with the life skills they need to be successful in school, work, and well into the future. Read more.

Nervous about striking out on your own? Not to worry. Our gap year opportunities provide a safe and structured way to get firsthand experience in the conservation field you’re looking to explore. Our programs connect youth with the most relevant government agencies, nonprofit organizations and corporate sector partners leading the way towards a sustainable future for our land and our youth.

When you sign up for an SCA gap year program you’ll get to:

  • Live and work in amazing places
  • Make new friends
  • Join a community of conservation-minded individuals
  • Tackle new challenges
  • Explore career options
  • Make career connections
  • Receive professional trainings and certifications
  • Serve the planet
  • Make an impact

Our gap year programs may also count as academic credit, service-learning hours or may be eligible to receive a stipend, depending on the opportunity and university. Some programs even offer the possibility of enrollment in SCA AmeriCorps through which members can earn up to $5700 that can be used to pay for tuition and other educational expenses.

Still thinking about taking a gap year? Now’s your chance to learn new skills while saving the planet! Start your next life chapter.

Team-based Gap Year Opportunities

Alaska Corps Teams

Native plant work, fuels reduction, restoration and general resource management in Alaska.
Dates: May – August/ September

Massachusetts Corps

Constructing trails and engaging students with the outdoors.
Dates: Nov – Sept or March – Sept.

Phoenix Field School

Preparing for natural resource careers with hands-on conservation work in Arizona.
Open only to Phoenix residents.

Adirondack Corps

Maintaining trails in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Dates: Late May – Early October.

Hudson Valley Corps

Connecting communities in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Dates: June – October

Individual Gap Year Internships

We have a wide range of internships available. More are added every day. Please check back to see if an opportunity is right for you. Some internships require specific coursework while others may require field experience. Most are for 18+ and require a willingness to learn, challenge yourself and gain a deeper understanding of the field of conservation.

Student Conservation Association