Environmental Education Assistant

Expected Dates
January 17, 2023 to November 14, 2023
Site
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Position ID
PO-00734692
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 New York. Such changes include but are not limited to: trainings being held remotely, elimination of large-scale gatherings, and a reduction of education programs.
Conditions of Employment Required to demonstrate full vaccination status for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized or FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine; OR Receive from SCA a reasonable accommodation granting an exemption from vaccine requirements based on a medical disability or because of a sincerely held religious belief. Additional information and instructions regarding how to request a reasonable accommodation will be provided at the time of selection.

New York’s Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve & Environmental Education Center is seeking an enthusiastic Environmental Educator for the 2023 season. Apply to be a SCA New York State Parks Corps member today!

About the NYS Parks Corps: Service activities range from providing environmental education and interpretation, to trail restoration, wildlife management, and organizing volunteer events. All 21 Parks Corps members will gather regularly in Central NY for SCA trainings and other professional development opportunities as they arise. (**See Covid caveat above for potential exceptions to 2023 events) Members share housing in groups of 1-4 members per location. NYS Parks Corps members serve under the direction of regional Parks staff to assist in accomplishing the mission of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; to provide safe and enjoyable recreational and interpretive opportunities for all New York State residents and visitors and to be responsible stewards of our valuable natural, historic, and cultural resources.

This position is located in New York’s Niagara Region, with housing in Depew, NY.

Purpose of the Position: 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 Position 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/Position: 
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.  

The mission of the Department of Environmental Conservation is to conserve, improve and protect New York’s natural resources and environment and to prevent, abate and control water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being

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 or Watershed STEM in the Schoolyard sessions in public schools and after-school care programs, assisting with After School Conservation Club, 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 others 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 training 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 or Watershed STEM in the Schoolyard 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:

  • Ability to pass a background check.
  • Valid driver license.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident Alien.

Skills, Knowledge, and Training:

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

Benefits
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: $300/week living allowance

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 SCA NYS Parks Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Leave No Trace, Mental Health First Aid, and professional development. Environmental Education Stewards receive Certified Interpretive Guide training while Conservation Stewards receive Game of Logging 1 & 2. Optional trainings include NYSOEA, the American Canoe Association Quick Start Your Canoe Training, and other opportunities that arise through the SCA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

  • No
Main Area of Focus
Education and Interpretation
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Social Sciences
some coursework or experience
Education
some coursework or experience
Earth Sciences
some coursework or experience
Arts/Humanities
some coursework or experience
Customer Service
competent with supervision
Leadership Experience
competent with supervision
Community Engagement
competent with supervision
Public Speaking
competent with supervision
Volunteer Coordination
competent with supervision
Working with Children
competent with supervision