Environmental Education Assistant

Expected Dates
January 13, 2022 to November 10, 2022
Site
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Position ID
PO-00732447

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. Specific duties aligned with this position may also be subject to change. Such changes include, but are not limited to: trainings being eliminated or held remotely, elimination of large-scale gatherings, reduction of education programs, and a transition to teleworking.  

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:

NYSDEC’s Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center has an internal mission statement: to inform and inspire citizens to take responsibility for the environment. The AmeriCorps Member will enable us to engage citizens of all ages in caring for the environments of Reinstein Woods, while also sharing knowledge, especially with underserved youth, about the environment upon which all life depends.

Community Needs that the Program Serves:

Reinstein Woods is uniquely positioned to serve more than a million citizens in the Buffalo-Niagara Region, including youth in underserved neighborhoods of the cities of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and their suburbs. More than 50% of children in schools and youth organizations that Reinstein Woods serves annually are from underserved or environmental justice communities. 

According to the NYS Education Department, the Buffalo City School District (Reinstein Woods’ biggest client) student population is 80% minority students, and 79% of all students are economically disadvantaged. The Niagara Falls City School District student population is 57% minority, and 72% of their students are economically disadvantaged. Even within the four school districts serving the first-ring suburb of Buffalo where Reinstein Woods is located, more than 50% of all students qualify as economically disadvantaged.

According to the Children and Nature Network, research shows that “spending time in nature enhances educational outcomes by improving children’s academic performance, focus, behavior and love of learning.”1 With the support of SCA/AmeriCorps, Reinstein Woods will be able to connect even more children to nature and the environment.

1 https://www.childrenandnature.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/CNN_AcademicOutcomes_16-10-27_O_newlogo.pdf

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:

  1. Assist with diversity programs aimed at connecting underserved youth with nature: Assist with a variety of programs, including presenting Discover Your Neighborhood sessions in public schools and after-school care programs, assisting with After School Conservation Club or Watershed STEM sessions, and assisting with field trips for the Western Region Campership Diversity Program. Accompany campership recipients for up to a week at Camp Rushford. (25%). 
  2. Stewardship: Lead citizens, youth groups and other in educational tours and stewardship activities at Reinstein Woods. Specifically, the position will coordinate the “Trail Thursdays” volunteers, who perform trail maintenance and invasive species removal weekly during the warm months of the year, and the “Phragmites Strike Team,” who monitor and remove an invasive plant as part of a multi-year effort at Reinstein Woods. (25%)
  3. Outreach and Volunteer recruitment: Represent Reinstein Woods at off-site fairs, festivals, science nights, and youth field days. Make presentations to organizations as requested to recruit more volunteers for Reinstein Woods’ education and stewardship programs. (20%) 
  4. Present on-site environmental education programs for pre-K to high school students, youth organizations, and the general public. (15%)
  5. Participate in all SCA Corps-wide trainings and service projects, as well as project evaluation and reporting. (15%)

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

The Member will be helping to connect youth from underserved communities with their local environment while improving their knowledge and awareness of environmental issues. Assisting with the Campership Diversity program will introduce a new generation to the joy of outdoor recreation such as camping, fishing and hiking. Through stewardship programs, the Member will be engaging people young and old in improving the environment while heightening their awareness and understanding of environmental issues such as invasive species. Through outreach activities, the Member will be attracting a larger audience to Reinstein Woods’ education and stewardship programs, and recruiting new volunteers who can contribute to stewardship and education efforts. All of these programs support DEC’s mission and Reinstein Woods’ mission.

Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:

Goal 1: Member presents high-quality Discover Your Neighborhood sessions in public schools and after-school care programs. Students are engaged, and pre- and post- lesson surveys show an increase in awareness and appreciation for the natural world. 
 
Goal 2: “Trail Thursdays” volunteers are engaged weekly from May to September. Phragmites Strike Team volunteers are trained in proper plant removal techniques and monitoring procedures. Phragmites sites are monitored at least once a month from May to September.  
 
Goal 3:  Member prepares materials for tabling and interactive activities for at least one outreach activity per month when possible. Interactions with the public are positive and result in increased attendance at public programs and at least 5 new volunteer forms being submitted.

Candidate Qualifications:

  • Valid driver’s license of at least 3 years with a clean driving record.
  • Ability to pass a federal background check

Skills:

  • Some experience dealing with youth.
  • Some experience in public speaking contexts. 
  • Ability to perform a variety of outdoor functions, from manual labor to leading trail hikes, lessons and field studies.
  • Basic computer skills including Excel data entry 
  • Ability to develop a positive rapport with youth and adults.
  • Ability to work with minimal oversight and in a team setting.
  • A passion for sharing knowledge about the environment and for building capacity to work together towards a better tomorrow.

Knowledge:      

  • Education: some coursework or experience
  • Community Engagement: some coursework or experience
  • Public Speaking: some coursework or experience
  • Working With Children: some coursework or experience
  • Biology: some coursework, experience, or interest
  • Plant Identification: some coursework , experience, or interest

Training:

  • Bachelor’s degree in education, environmental studies, or science preferred, relevant experience will be considered. 

Benefits:

  • All Hudson Valley Corps members receive a taxable $200/week living allowance
  • Upon successful completion of the term, members receive a taxable Full-time Segal Education Award through AmeriCorps.
  • Student loan forbearance and interest repayments for federal student loan through AmeriCorps.
  • Eligible for free health insurance
  • Eligible for childcare assistance through AmeriCorps
  • Wilderness First Aid and CPR, Leave No Trace Trainer Course, American Canoe Association QuickStart Your Canoe
    Professional development. Environmental Educator members receive Project WET, Project Wild, and Project Learning Tree curricula, CIG, and roving
  • All Parks Corps members receive:
    • Wilderness First Aid and CPR
    • Leave No Trace Trainer Course
    • American Canoe Association QuickStart Your Canoe
    • Professional development
    • Environmental Educator members receive Project WET, Project Wild, and Project Learning Tree curricula, Certified Interpretive Guide, roving, and other opportunities that arise.
  • No
Main Area of Focus
Education and Interpretation
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Biology
some coursework or experience
Communications
some coursework or experience
Education
some coursework or experience
Bird Identification
some experience
Community Engagement
some experience
Plant Identification
some experience
Public Speaking
some experience
Writing/Publishing
some experience
Working with Children
some experience