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: To provide education about the natural and cultural history of Minnewaska State Park Preserve to patrons of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The goal of the education program is to foster preservation stewardship of the natural world in all individuals and germinate potential conservation leaders for the future.
Community Needs that the Program Serves: The program provides valuable education and recreation opportunities for members of both the local and distant community. People from all over the world visit Minnewaska, as do locals who adore this Park Preserve. Participation in a Minnewaska education program creates possibilities for patrons to exercise outdoors while learning about the natural world and local history. Exercise enhances good health, while learning about nature in a positive setting engenders a connection to the landscape that may lead to future stewardship. In an era of fewer in-person social interactions, Minnewaska’s programs create an opportunity for people of diverse life experiences to learn from each other as well.
Striking a balance between recreation and preservation happens best when negative impacts to the Park Preserve are addressed with timely and informed responses. Trail overuse/erosion, introduction and spread of invasive species, deer overbrowse and other recreation and biological impacts have the potential to significantly alter the landscape and threaten the rich bio-diversity found in the Northern Shawangunks. In order to keep this landscape intact, and also offer world class recreation experiences to a growing audience, Minnewaska needs to identify impacts and prioritize mitigation efforts to ensure that the negative impacts do not cause a degradation of the natural experience, available to park patrons. One focus of our education programming is to teach people about this wonderful area and how they can help to protect it.
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:
Duties: Come to Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a 23,000-acre gem featuring seven waterfalls, four sky lakes and over 85 miles of carriage roads and trails. Recreation opportunities include hiking, biking, swimming, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, horseback riding, scuba, and paddling. Be part of a dynamic team leading education and recreation programs for school groups, clubs and the public both on-site and off-site at schools and other locales; implement existing environmental education programs and develop new and innovative ones; promote all programming through printed materials, press releases and other means; organize large public events such as I Love My Park Day; and staff, maintain and update the Nature Center and its displays. Other miscellaneous duties may include assisting with various maintenance and operational needs and assisting the Invasive Species team. Candidate must be able to work a ﬂexible schedule which will include weekends, holidays and evenings. The usual schedule of hours is 8:30am – 5pm with a half-hour for lunch. The following is an approximate breakdown of job duties:
- 40% Provide environmental education and recreation programs for the public, including school groups, clubs and the public. This includes leading and developing education programs about the natural and cultural history of the site as well as creating and distributing promotional materials. Also, the member will assess all education programs and make any necessary updates to the programs. The member will also lead public recreation programs, such as hikes, year-round.
- 15% Develop, lead and promote new education programs for the following:
- Children’s programs for local libraries
- In-School programs at local schools, including afterschool programs
- 15% Organizing various park events, including recruitment and coordination of volunteers. Examples include I Love My Park Day.
- 20% Participate in all SCA Corps-wide trainings and service projects, as well as project evaluation and reporting.
- 10% Assist with diverse maintenance and operational duties as needed, including trail maintenance, painting, organizing supplies, etc.
Essential Functions of Position:
-Schedule, develop and teach environmental education to diverse audiences
-Lead outdoor recreation programs for diverse audiences
-Staff the Nature Center from May through November
-Research, write, promote and deliver education programs
-Communicate with park patrons and park partners, such as the NYNJ Trail Conference
-Outreach to potential clients including school groups, clubs and others
-Trail maintenance and improvement
-Attend professional development and trainings as time permits
- Organize and facilitate large events
-Various other duties including making and receiving phone calls, cleaning dedicated education work areas, picking up litter found while out in the Park Preserve, etc
Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:
Goal 1: Teach Environmental Education
After an initial mentoring phase of approximately one to three months, during which time the member will observe Minnewaska’s educators teaching and assist with that teaching, the member will become an environmental educator at Minnewaska. In that capacity, the member will be in the role of either lead or support educator for school and club field trips as well as public programs. The member will assure that these education programs successfully deliver a safe, enjoyable and educational experience for visitors, with a goal of fostering enthusiastic and knowledgeable stewards of our natural world. The member will be an educator for approximately 100 programs, some of which will be observed and critiqued by the SCA member supervisor, who will provide beneficial feedback.
Goal 2: Organize I Love My Park Day (ILMPD)
Working with other Park staff as well as NYNJTC members and volunteers, the member will take a lead role in organizing and promoting this event as well as leading a team of volunteers in trail work on the actual day of ILMPD. The following tasks will be accomplished:
- Choose target trail improvement projects, with the feedback and insights of Park staff and NYNJTC volunteers
- Promote ILMPD through press releases, social media as available, ﬂyers, etc
- Complete all necessary paperwork in a timely manner and participate in any scheduled conference calls organized by Parks and Trails New York (PTNY)
- Organize all tools, food, volunteers, etc for the event
- Lead a team of volunteers on the actual day of ILMPD
- Supervise and lead all other volunteer team leaders the day of the event
Goal 3: Research, Develop and Deliver New Education Programs
The member will research, develop and deliver four afterschool elementary programs, eight environmental education programs specifically for Homeschoolers and eight environmental education programs for Junior Naturalists. The member will use a mixture of existing past programs for these groups as well as new programs that she/he creates. These programs must be age and topic appropriate and should meet current New York State learning standards when applicable. The member will also develop promotional materials with which to recruit participants, such as ﬂyers, email messages, etc; learn and lead the lesson; gather teaching tools and document all programs.
Goal 4: Learn the Trails of Minnewaska
Within the first three months of the position, the member will become familiar with most of the 85 miles of footpaths, carriage roads and woods roads that criss-cross Minnewaska. The member will be given time to hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe (dependent on designated trail use) the most frequently used trails during this time.
Goal 5: Ecological and Trail Stewardship
The member will survey at least three miles of trails for damage caused by hiker overuse, storm damage, etc. This damage, as well as the presence of invasive species will be documented and reported to park management. The member will work solo and with various park staff and volunteers, to make necessary trail repairs as directed by park management. As needed, the member will also recruit and coordinate volunteers to further assist with these efforts. Also, the member will work with other SCA members and Park staff to conduct various biological surveys as needed, including spleenwort, deer browse, invasive species and vernal pools.
Required Academic and Experience Qualifications:
BA/BS or equivalent in biology, environmental science, education or related field
Valid driver’s license for 3 years prior to start.
Ability to pass a background check
Desired: a background in education is helpful, but the most important characteristics to possess are an enthusiastic, open-minded, honest and hard-working attitude. Personal transportation is necessary.
Skills/Knowledge/Training Necessary to be a successful AmeriCorps Member in this position:
- Communications skills- both written and verbal. Comfortable speaking to groups of up to 50.
- Experience providing informal interpretation and/or environmental education programming
- Education program development
- Focused self-motivated individual, able to work both independently and as a team member
- Volunteer recruitment and coordination
- Computer skills including Word, Publisher, Excel, GIS
- Skills developed through experience and or training in performing physical land management activities, trail building/repairing, removal of invasive species
- Field experience in data collection
- Ability to use GPS/GIS to track activities performed
- Experience navigating and traveling in remote áreas
- Friendly and patient demeanor
- Able to work easily in close quarters with others, sharing space and tools
- A genuine desire to teach people, particularly children, about nature, cultural history and more.
- Ability to interpret the natural and cultural history of the area
- Ability to identify local ﬂora and fauna
- Familiarity with Phenology Monitoring, Project FeederWatch, or other Citizen Science projects
- Familiarity with New York State Learning Standards
- Familiarity with graphic design
- Basic topographic and trail map knowledge
- Basic knowledge/understanding of children
- All Hudson Valley Corps members receive a taxable $200/week living allowance and EITHER housing provided OR a taxable $600/month housing allowance for positions north of NYC metro area OR $800/month housing allowance for positions in NYC metro area.
- Upon successful completion of the term, members receive a taxable 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
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WET, Project WILD and Project Learning Tree curricula, and professional development. Optional trainings include Leave No Trace, American Canoe Association Quick Start Your Canoe, and other opportunities that arise.
Come to Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a 23,000 acre gem featuring seven waterfalls, four sky lakes and over 85 miles of carriage roads and trails. Recreation opportunities include hiking, biking, swimming, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, horseback riding, scuba, and paddling.
- some coursework or experience
- some coursework or experience
- Ecology & Restoration
- some coursework or experience
- Leadership Experience
- competent with supervision
- Plant Identification
- some experience
- Public Speaking
- some experience
- some experience
- Volunteer Coordination
- some experience
- Working with Children
- competent without supervision