Environmental Educator

Expected Dates
July 4, 2022 to December 12, 2022
Site
Minnewaska State Park Preserve NYS OPRHP
Position ID
PO-00733835
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.  

Beginning on 1/18/22, all new SCA volunteer program participants (Interns, Corps/Teams, AmeriCorps, PLC and Residential members) will be required to be fully vaccinated. Currently, full vaccination is defined as having received the first two-dose series (or one J&J dose) of COVID-19 vaccine. 


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. The member will also assist the Minnewaska staff to implement land management activities to include mitigating visitor use impacts, provide invasive species control, and collect data for ecological monitoring projects.

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 and 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:

Come to Minnewaska State Park Preserve, a 24,000-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 the public both on-site and off-site; implement existing environmental education programs and develop new and innovative ones; promote all programming through printed materials, press releases, social media and other means; organize volunteer events; staff, maintain and update the Visitor Center and its displays; participate in conservation stewardship work and manage the Volunteer Trails Stewardship program. Other miscellaneous duties may include assisting with various maintenance and operational needs. Candidate must be able to work a flexible schedule which will include weekends, holidays and occasionally evenings. The following is an approximate breakdown of job duties: 

 

A) 40% Provide environmental education and recreation programs for the public, including school groups (Pandemic dependent), clubs and the public. This includes researching, developing and delivering education programs about the natural and cultural history of the site as well as creating and distributing promotional materials. During the pandemic, the member will seek new audiences for education programs, including but not limited to homeschoolers, local libraries, preschoolers and other smaller audiences. Additionally, the member will work with the education team to develop alternate methods of delivering environmental education including social media and video. 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.   

 

B) 25% Managing the Volunteer Trail Stewardship Program. This includes supervising existing volunteers and recruitment to increase the pool of volunteers for the program; orientation of volunteers and monitoring of volunteers’ scheduling. The member will also monitor, manage and analyze the data collected by volunteers as well as create packable teaching tools for the stewards.  Additionally, the member will act as a trail steward on busy weekdays, educating the public about the principles of Leave No Trace. Dependent upon the pandemic situation, the member will also develop and implement a meaningful end of season event to thank all volunteers. The member will also organize a series of small group volunteer trailwork days. The member will work with their supervisor to assist in supervision of the work of the NYNJ Trail Conference Trail Stewards.

 

C) 20% Staff the new Minnewaska Visitor Center, including but not limited to patron assistance and cleaning and maintaining the facility.  Patron assistance includes staffing the information desk and providing education about Leave No Trace as well as the significant natural and cultural history of Minnewaska. Additionally, the member will provide general information about the site, such as accurate directions to points of interest and education about Park policies such as the Carry-In/Carry-Out garbage policy and acceptable use of trails, etc.   

 

D) 15% Participate in all SCA Corps-wide trainings and service projects, as well as project evaluation and reporting.  

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

Through the education programming and trail improvements that the member provides, the following actions, which are key components of the mission of NYSOPRHP, will be accomplished: 
1)    provide safe and enjoyable recreational and interpretive opportunities for all New York State residents and visitors 
2)    encourage visitors to be responsible stewards of our valuable natural, historic and cultural resources

Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:

Goal 1: Teach Environmental Education 

January-March: 

1) Cultivate New Audiences: The member will work with the education staff to seek new audiences for education programs at Minnewaska. As it is still uncertain whether school groups will be seeking field trips at the Park during the Spring, the education department will reach out to smaller groups including homeschoolers, clubs, pods of students, private schools, the ARC Mid-Hudson and others. 

2) Virtual Education: The member will also work on developing one virtual field trip, for schools or individual families, specific to Minnewaska. A well-researched outline will be developed for review by the education team, to be followed by production and marketing of the program. 

3) Leading Public Education Programs: After accompanying and observing education staff in leading public environmental education programs, the member will develop and lead their own 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 participate in either leading or co-leading approximately 50 programs, some of which will be observed and critiqued by the SCA member supervisor, who will provide beneficial feedback. 

Goal 2: Recruit, Train and Supervise Volunteers for Trail Stewardship Program 

January-March: The member will become familiar with the Trail Stewardship program and the trails. All existing materials will be reviewed and updated as needed and all data collected by Trail Stewards in prior years will be entered into a spreadsheet. Any needed updates to the existing orientation and virtual sign-up system will be made and any useful teaching tools will be developed. 

March-April: All existing volunteers will be contacted and encouraged to participate again in the Trail Steward program.  New volunteers will be recruited via word of mouth, press releases, signs and social media.  

May: All new volunteers will be oriented and vetted then shown how to sign up for shifts and collect data. The member will accompany new volunteers on their first shifts to assure that they interact with the public in a positive and meaningful manner. The member will provide any support needed by the NYNJ Trail Conference Trail Stewards during this time too, as they will be new to being trail stewards.

May-October: The member will follow up with volunteers to assess their comfort level and help problem solve any concerns they may have throughout the remainder of the position. This includes managing all teaching and data collection tools, assuring that volunteers consistently have all the tools required to do their job well.  Additionally, the member will act as a trail steward, as time allows, on busy weekdays when volunteers may not be available.
 

Goal 3: Research, Develop and Deliver New Education Programs 

The member will research, develop and deliver four afterschool elementary programs,(if schools are allowing in-person programs), eight environmental education programs specifically for Homeschoolers and eight environmental education programs for the summer Junior Naturalists program. All these programs may need to adapt as pandemic conditions dictate. 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 and Assess them for Updates

January-March: The member will become familiar with the most accessible and widely used footpaths and carriage roads at 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. While on the trails, the member will make notes of any improvements or updates that need to be made and report these to the education team and park management.  These may include erosion, flooding, signage needed, re-routes suggested, litter clean-up, brushing in of social trails, etc.

Goal 5: Social Media Education and Monitoring

January-November: 

1) The member will monitor social media and other digital platforms in order to correct inaccurate information about Minnewaska’s trails and their use. If inaccuracies are found, the member will alert Minnewaska management and propose a strategy to correct that information as quickly as possible. 

Skills/Knowledge/Training Necessary to be a successful AmeriCorps Member in this position:      

Skills:

  • 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 
  • 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.

Knowledge:

  • 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


Training Opportunities:
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WILD 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.
  • No
Main Area of Focus
Education and Interpretation
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Biology
some coursework or experience
Education
some coursework or experience
Ecology & Restoration
some coursework or experience
Leadership Experience
competent with supervision
Plant Identification
some experience
Public Speaking
some experience
Writing/Publishing
some experience
Volunteer Coordination
some experience
Working with Children
competent without supervision