Environmental Steward

Expected Dates
January 13, 2022 to November 10, 2022
Site
New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Position ID
PO-00732593
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.  


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.

Purpose of the Program:

The mission of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is 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.          

Within OPRHP, the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning (DESP) is dedicated to the protection, conservation and resiliency of the State Parks and Historic Site system. By working collaboratively with stakeholders and partners, the Division provides education, training, and tools necessary to make informed decisions that balance responsible recreation with the needs of the natural environment. These efforts will ensure a robust and sustainable parks system now and for generations to come.

In this position, the SCA/AmeriCorps member will engage in the process of enhancing natural assets in NY State Parks through statewide environmental stewardship. Located within DESP, the position will allow the member to explore environmental solutions that balance stewardship initiatives with recreational needs.

Community Needs that the Program Serves:
For the purposes of this agreement, the community is defined as the statewide NY State Park system, which has over 200 State Parks and Historic Sites. OPRHP owns approximately 350,000 acres, over 90% of which are in natural cover, supporting native flora, fauna, and ecosystems. OPRHP facilities also receive more than 77 million visitors each year, many of which come to see or interact with the Parks’ natural environments. This puts significant pressure on the fragile ecosystems within the Park system. Nearly 75% of the state parks surveyed by the NY Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP 2005) support at least one rare species population or significant natural community occurrence. For some of these rare species, NY State Parks are their only known location in the State or even the world. There is a great need to implement environmental stewardship programs and events within the State Park system, balancing recreation with conservation of the environment.

OPRHP’s mission includes protection and stewardship of natural areas and native biodiversity in State Parks. As part of Parks’ mission, § 3.09(15) of the Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law directs OPRHP to “Enhance the natural resources within the state park, recreation and historic site system by providing habitat for various wildlife species including endangered and threatened species of fauna through practices such as ecological restoration, wetland conservation and the planting of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants indigenous to the area which act as food and protective cover for fauna. Selection of plant species or communities of species shall take into consideration the natural, ecological, historic, archeological, aesthetic, and public use resources in the immediate areas as well as the management goals of the park or site.”

This position provides an opportunity for enhanced protection of the environment and Parks’ biodiversity, by providing guidance and information on native species conservation, management, and restoration within State Parks and Historic Sites.

This position will collaborate with OPRHP staff on priority stewardship activities, including:

  • abating threats to native habitats and species through targeted information and guidance
  • incorporating science and GIS-based methods to inform conservation activities
  • developing policies and guidance to promote stewardship initiatives statewide
  • incorporating recreational and educational opportunities with environmental stewardship, including the development of educational materials
  • working with OPRHP staff on field work
  • working with the NY Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) to apply species and natural community data on the ground


Working with staff statewide, this position will aid the Agency in its stewardship efforts, which is the basis for the Agency’s request for AmeriCorps assistance.


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:
This position will be located within the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning (DESP) of OPRHP in Albany, NY.  The member’s immediate supervisor will be Kelsey Ruffino, the Stewardship Specialist. Kelsey will work with the Division Director and Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, DESP’s professional staff, and the NY Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) to develop specific projects for this position. The delivery of environmental stewardship in OPRHP is through each of the agency’s 11 regional offices as well as within the Albany office. The member will become familiar with the working of environmental stewardship statewide and on a regional basis as well as develop an understanding of what is working well and where limitations currently exist in environmental stewardship implementation. The position may entail field work, including on-the-ground activities such as manually removing invasive species, planting native species, manipulating habitats, collecting data, etc., as well as office work such as data entry, GIS analyses and map creation, research, environmental education material development, and report reading and writing. The creation of science-based guidance documents will be a key component of this position. The primary focus of this position will be on advancing initiatives of DESP and executive staff designed to enhance environmental stewardship in State Parks. This effort will be statewide, with a focus on implementation of stewardship priorities. The position entails significant collaboration with the DESP staff and Regional Biologists and also many partners who are assisting in Parks’ mission of advancing environmental stewardship, including Audubon NY, The Nature Conservancy, Cornell Cooperative Extension, NYS DEC, NYNHP, and SUNY ESF. 

Essential Functions of Position:

  1. Conduct assessments, develop educational materials, conduct literature reviews, gather information, and/or create reports and guidance documents (35%)
  2. Support DESP staff by conducting research and organizing data (10%)
  3. Utilize ArcMap to create GIS maps for environmental projects and assessments (10%)
  4. Travel to state parks for meetings, field work, etc. Field work includes water quality monitoring and plant/wildlife surveys. Travel will be coordinated with DESP staff travel (15%)
  5. Participate in outreach events to engage the public in environmental stewardship topics, including invasive species awareness (5%)
  6. Collaborate with regional staff and partners (5%)
  7. Participate in environmental staff trainings and meetings (5%)
  8. Participate in all SCA/AmeriCorps training programs and Hudson Valley service projects, and complete necessary AmeriCorps reporting (15%)



How the AmeriCorps Member’s Role Aligns with the Organization:
A primary aim of this position is the advancement of environmental stewardship initiatives of DESP and Executive Staff. The work is central to the Agency’s mission of stewardship of its natural assets and DESP’s environmental sustainability guidelines. The member will work on implementation of initiatives identified under the community need section (above). It is important to recognize that in many instances it is the environments within the State Park system that attract people to parks and contributes to their enjoyment and enhancement of their quality of life. At the same time, however, the enjoyment of these natural environments is dependent on their continual existence. Outcomes from this position will balance stewardship initiatives with the recreational opportunities park patrons seek by generating accessible guidance and educational documents, which will aim to enhance biological diversity and advance stewardship within the Agency. A work plan will be developed with the member during their first week. The plans will be dependent on Agency initiatives and on the abilities and interests that the member brings with them.



Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:
        Goal 1: Successfully completes assigned tasks within a reasonable timeframe.
          Goal 2: : Conducts work in a professional manner.
          Goal 3: Achieves professional growth in an area determined by the member and supervisor.
Candidate Qualifications:

  • Ability to pass a background check.
  • Valid driver license of 3 years with a clean driving record. 


Skills:

  1. A basic knowledge of conservation biology and the natural resources in parkland settings including biodiversity, aquatic ecosystems, and terrestrial ecosystems.
  2. Experience with ArcGIS, MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  3. Some familiarity with statistics and MS Access preferred.
  4. Some knowledge and experience in environmental stewardship preferred. 
  5. Ability to take direction and provide timely responses to assignments.
  6. Ability to conduct field work in variable weather conditions.
  7. Knowledge of outdoors and skills necessary to work in outdoors setting.
  8. Ability to travel around the State.
  9. Ability to function as a team player and to work with people to achieve desired outcomes.
  10. An understanding of the importance of safety in the workplace especially in field situations.

           
Knowledge:
    

  1. Bachelor’s degree or higher in biology, environmental science, ecology, conservation biology, or a related discipline.
  2. Course work and/or experience in conservation biology and environmental stewardship.
  3. Experience through independent research or volunteer work in working as team player and with people. 


Benefits:
All Hudson Valley Corps members receive a taxable $200/week living allowance
This position will receive a taxable $600/month housing 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

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.
 

  • All Hudson Valley Corps members receive Wilderness First Aid, CPR, Hudson River Citizen Science curricula, Trail Skills, Project WET, Project WILD curricula, and professional development. Optional trainings include Leave No Trace, American Canoe Association Level 1, and other opportunities that arise. 
     
  • No
Main Area of Focus
Natural Resources Mgmt
Education, Training & Skills Expected
Biology
some coursework or experience
Forestry
some coursework or experience
Recreation Management
some coursework or experience
Resource Management
some coursework or experience
GIS
some experience
GPS
some experience