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Student Conservation Association Environmental Educator Assistant in Arlington, Virginia

Environmental Educator Assistant

Expected Dates

January 13, 2022 to December 8, 2022

Site

Region 2 Office NYS DEC

Position ID

PO-00732450

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 mission 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. The mission of the NYSDEC’s Region 2 Bureau of Environmental Education program is to engage New York City families, students, and teachers with local natural resources through programs that raise ecological awareness, promote outdoor recreation, and inspire environmental stewardship.

Community Needs that the Program Serves:

The youth participating in the NYSDEC Region 2’s After-School Conservation Club generally reflect the demographics of the children attending a NYC public school during the 2020-2021 school year. Over 84% of public-school youth belong to a BIPOC racial or ethnic group with about 41% identifying as Hispanic and 25% as black. Citywide, the student population is made up of children who are English language learners (13%), have a disability (21%), or qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, or are eligible for city-provided benefits (73%).

Many of these demographic characteristics tend to be predictors of creating barriers or limiting access to nature or outdoor experiences. To counter these headwinds, we use youth’s innate love of nature, whether it’s of ocean giants, roaming herds on the savannah, or minute bugs, to make a connection to the nature that surrounds NYC. For many this nature is unknown, even though it’s in the neighborhoods that weave across the city’s landscape. Participation in our Conservation Club program has helped to connect youth to the nature of NYC. Based on comparison of paired pre- and post-tests of 150 Conservation Club participants from the 2018-2019 school year, 54% listed more wild NYC plants or animals in their post-test when asked to list five plants or animals that live in NYC. Additionally, these same youth reported that for the first time 40% cast a fishing pole, 27% went on a bird walk, and 48% set up a camping tent.

While not measured directly with our audiences, research shows that playing in nature improves mental and physical health and increases emotional well-being. Outside play also helps reduce stress in children and children have more active imaginations, stronger immune systems, and have more respect for themselves and others.

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: Members will provide the primary support for the After-School Conservation Club (ASCC) program (40%). For this program, members will deliver one hour of environmental education per week to 4-8 groups of 20 third, fourth, and/or fifth graders at an off-site NYC after-school program operated by a community-based organization (ex. YMCA or Boys and Girls Club). Members will work with the same groups for 15 weeks in the spring and 10 weeks in the fall. Members will be given latitude to deliver lessons tailored to the interest of their groups. Members will also conduct environmental education programs in local schools, summer camps, and non-profit organizations and at local community events (25%). Members will develop in-person and virtual lessons for the audiences listed above (20%). Members will complete mandatory SCA and DEC trainings and other professional development (15%).

Please note that the dynamic nature of the COVID pandemic may impact how our educational programs are delivered. Thus, the duties and responsibilities of members may change as the nature of pandemic changes, mostly in the form of whether programs are delivered in-person or virtually. As of October 2021, members are delivering programs in-person (fully outdoors) and virtually. COVID risk is regularly assessed to determine if it is appropriate to offer in-person programs and if members are comfortable doing so. A risk reduction protocol, including wearing masks, distancing, sanitizing materials, and modification of activities, is in place when programs are delivered in person.

If COVID risk is significantly reduced, it is possible that members will facilitate professional development trainings for formal and informal educators that cover activity guides produced by Projects Learning Tree, WILD, and WET. Additionally, members may spend one or two weeks at a DEC sleepaway camp and interact with and educate up to 45 youth, including 6 campers from the DEC’s NYC Camps Diversity Program. Addition of these responsibilities would reduce the portion of time spent on those listed above.

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

Members will work directly with diverse communities in the after-school setting at ASCC sites and during other education and outreach programs. This includes youth participating in these programs as well as the adults who supervise these youth. Members will be helping to improve the youth’s and adults’ ecological awareness and outdoor recreation skills. Members will also help introduce youth to their local environment, helping to connect them to the natural world and encourage their pursuit of outdoor recreation opportunities.

If COVID conditions allow, members will assist with and deliver professional development trainings that provide attendees with a broad set of environmental education lessons to use in their instructional setting. These lessons will connect their urban audiences with the natural resources in their local communities. With the NYC Camps Diversity Program, members will provide youth with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy the outdoors through recreational activities, such as camping, fishing, and hiking.

Performance Goals for the AmeriCorps Member:

Goal 1: Deliver environmental education lessons to audiences that raise ecological awareness, promote outdoor recreation, and/or inspire environmental stewardship. Members will modify procedures from written curricula to meet the needs of each audience as well as implement group management strategies that maximize engagement.

Goal 2: Develop, deliver, and refine new environmental education lessons. Members will minimally develop three in-person and three virtual lessons that focus on environmental topics of their choosing. Members will demonstrate the ability to develop engaging, age-appropriate lessons and to self-evaluate their instruction to refine their lesson’s procedures and meet its objectives.

Goal 3: Develop and complete at least three professional goals tied to environmental education and/or conservation. Members will meet with supervisors at least once a month to develop, assess, and guide their progress. Past members’ goals have focused on developing skills (ex. plant and bird identification, classroom management) and knowledge (ex. culturally responsive teaching) as well as gaining specific experience (ex. developing and delivering a professional development workshop for pre-service classroom teachers).

Candidate Qualifications :

  • Valid driver’s license of at least 3 years with a clean driving record.

  • Ability to pass a federal background check

  • Willing and able to travel via public transportation or fleet vehicle to off-site locations throughout New York City with educational supplies.

  • Comply with DEC COVID guidelines as well as those from federal, state, and local authorities. Currently this includes wearing a mask in the office except when eating or sitting at your desk. It also includes wearing a mask during all in-person programs.

  • Currently the Department of Education requires a vaccination to enter any DOE building. Any SCA member who isn’t vaccinated will take on the responsibility of teaching the majority of the virtual programs.

    Skills:

  • Enthusiasm for the outdoors

  • Ability to work in a team setting

  • Ability to work independently on select projects

  • Fluency in Spanish or Chinese is beneficial, but not required

  • Valid driver license held for a minimum for 3 years[S(3] with a clean driving record for operation of a DEC vehicle (beneficial to have, but not required to apply)

    Knowledge:

  • College degree, experience, and/or passion for education, environmental biology or science, ecology, or related fields

  • Knowledge of urban audiences

    Benefits:

  • All Hudson Valley Corps members receive a taxable $200/week living allowance

  • $900/month housing allowance in NYC

  • Provision of unlimited monthly MTA MetroCard

  • 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.

  • Handicap Accessible?

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

Working with Children

some experience

Further Details

AmeriCorps Eligible

Eligible

Driving Logistics

Valid Drivers License Needed

Housing or Stipend Provided?

Yes

It will be the member's responsibility to secure their own housing. Housing allowance provided.

Indoor/Outdoor

Indoor

US Citizenship

Required

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