Emanuel Aragon Cruz
The Appalachian Highlands Network primarily serves three NPS units in the southeastern US: Blue Ridge Parkway, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, and Obed Wild & Scenic River. Network parks are divided between two ecologically distinct physiographic regions: the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau, lush with vegetation, old-growth forests, rocky ridges, and deep gorges, are characterized by high levels of biological diversity and endemism.
The nation-wide NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program was created to acquire the information and expertise needed by park managers to protect park resources and maintain ecosystem integrity in the face of multiple threats. The primary goals of the NPS I & M program are to inventory NPS natural resources to determine their nature and status; monitor park ecosystems to better understand their dynamic nature and condition and provide reference points in comparison to other environments; and to establish baseline inventory and monitoring practices throughout the National Park system.
For more information regarding the Appalachian Highlands Inventory and Monitoring Network please visit the NPS website at: https://www.nps.gov/im/aphn/index.htm
Position Overview: This is a year-long position with the NPS Appalachian Highlands Inventory and Monitoring Network (APHN) where the ACE member will serve as a member of a team that conducts field-oriented natural resources monitoring. Duties are mainly assisting with field data collection, data management and related laboratory testing for the Network's water quality monitoring program. Other duties may include assisting with freshwater mussel and vegetation monitoring.
Assist APHN staff with a variety of field-oriented projects, including:
- Operation and maintenance of data sondes used to collect continuous water quality data;
- Collection of discrete water quality samples;
- Operation and maintenance of water quality instruments, laboratory instruments and field equipment;
- Entering and quality-checking continuous and discrete water quality monitoring data using Microsoft Access and Excel, and other proprietary database software;
- Occasionally providing field and data management assistance for other long-term monitoring projects, including freshwater mussel and vegetation monitoring;
- Field operation and basic management of Global Positioning System (esp. Garmin) instruments and data;
- Creating basic Geographic Information System maps (with ESRI's ArcGIS software) for natural resources inventory and monitoring projects;
- Organizing and carrying out field logistics to support monitoring teams of two or more people.
APHN will provide field training and experience using a variety of water quality monitoring instruments and techniques. This includes procedures for water sampling, streamflow measurements, measuring field and laboratory parameters, and other procedures. Training and skills will be provided in data manipulation using Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, ESRI ArcGIS software, as well as other proprietary software, including National Park Service natural resources inventory and monitoring databases. Training will be provided in Wilderness First Aid and Operational Leadership (a safety awareness course). In addition, training is provided for vegetation and freshwater mussel monitoring.
This individual placement is meant to facilitate professional development and promotes exposure to land management agencies and networking with professionals. This could include gaining experience in different conservation fields and shadowing different work groups.
Living Allowance: The ACE Member is expected to contribute ~40 hours/week and will receive a living allowance of $600/week to offset the costs of food and incidental expenses, dispersed bi-weekly. While traveling for projects, accommodations will include motels and park housing; reimbursable travel expenses are covered by the ACE.
AmeriCorps Education Award Program: This position may be eligible for a 1700-hour AmeriCorps Education Award while serving under the EAP 2022/23 grant year program, valued up to $6,495 upon successful completion of 1700hrs and the full service term.
Loan Forbearance: AmeriCorps members may also be eligible for federal loan forbearance. Additional enrollment steps are required.
Qualifying Child Care Coverage: AmeriCorps members may also be eligible for qualifying child care coverage. Additional enrollment steps are required.
Public Land Corps Hiring Authority: Members serving under this agreement may be eligible for a federal hiring authority upon completion of their term of service. PLC projects also include specific eligibility requirements such as age and citizenship. Please contact ACE staff with questions about eligibility, or view general information online https://www.usaconservation.org/epic/#eligibility-requirements.
Housing: Housing is the responsibility of the member and not provided by ACE or NPS. Rental units may be available through the park.
Provided Training/Orientation: ACE members will receive position specific training and an orientation outlining ACE policies and procedures, clear guidance on prohibited activities, and networks for support.