Submitted by the San Juan Islands Conservation District
The San Juan Islands Conservation District is partnering with the Northwest Indian College and Western Washington University to launch the Civilian Conservation Corps certificate program in forestry and field data. The pilot year will focus on Orcas Island and offers opportunities to work on other islands in the San Juans. This collaborative is looking for dedicated people between the ages of 18-24 to join the program that integrates paid forestry conservation fieldwork with field education shaped by the knowledge and traditions of ecology. Integrating western and indigenous sciences, the certificate course is taught by professors, graduate students, and specialists from Western Washington, Northwest Indian College, and Oregon State University. Subjects will include traditional knowledge and use of native plants, GIS mapping and data collection, technical tree felling, soil testing and soil health, silviculture, and wildfire risk reduction.
The certification integrates fieldwork with field education and online interactive webinars. Members of Orcas Island or the Lummi Nation commit to a 10.5-month period of full-time conservation service in the San Juan Islands through a paid AmeriCorps year. These individuals receive a wage of $1,945 per month, financial housing assistance, health insurance if needed, and a $6,195 payment towards any current or future student loans. We are working to have similar financial alternatives for individuals who do not qualify for AmeriCorps status. There are no education requirements, but individuals must be interested in conducting hands-on conservation work and learning ArcGIS field data collection. Preferred applicants will have a commitment to ecological justice, with experience working in forestry, farming, gardening, or conservation. The program is seeking one crew lead who has at least 1 year of professional forestry experience, as well as one AmeriCorps VISTA position to assist with program administration. The corps also provides opportunities for research partnerships with students at the Northwest Indian College and Western Washington University, and we welcome inquiries. The program is set to begin in September of 2020, with funding dependent upon the number of applicants and available finances.
Students should be interested and ready for strenuous conservation fieldwork that involves managing conservancy areas, restoration planting, and wildfire fuel reduction work. Graduates will be connected to opportunities for careers as an arborist, wildland firefighter, natural resource monitoring technician, conservation scientist, specialist in cultural resource management, land-use planner and more. The Orcas Island Conservation Corps is founded upon the value of racial equity and seeks a structure of co-land management where policy and practices are shaped equally by western and indigenous voices. To submit an application, visit www.sanjuanislandscd.org/occc. This collaboration was possible due to a grant from the Orcas Island Community Foundation.