Start a Career in Natural Resources

6194560773_92c3d08596_bYou’ve picked one of the best majors for outdoor industry jobs and you’re about to graduate, or perhaps, you’re looking to reinvent yourself.  But what’s the next step? If you’re looking to protect and conserve natural resources by working for government agencies like the National Park Service or nonprofits like the Sierra Club, you may find it difficult to get your foot in the door due to high competition for limited jobs. Or perhaps working in the outdoor industry is new to you and you’re just looking to get your feet wet through some new experiences. Either way, here are a few ways to gain practical experience in the outdoor industry and learn new skills along the way.

AmeriCorps is a U.S. federal government program created in 1993 by the National and Community Service Trust Act, signed by President Bill Clinton. The program provides state and national community service opportunities in areas of education, public safety, health, and the environment. The program usually covers room and board for participants while they serve and also provides education awards that can be used towards college or student loans. Check out their website and search for environment related opportunities in your state.

Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) offers several month to year-long employment opportunities for high-school and college students interested in conservation service opportunities. Work as a trail crew member, restore critical habitats, teach environmental education, or learn how to track grizzlies in the Tetons. The SCA often partners with government agencies such as the National Park Service, Forest Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, offering short-term jobs that provide training and valuable contacts you’ll want to keep in touch with once you start applying for those permanent positions.

State Conservation Corps
Do you want to spend your days living and working in the outdoors? Does the thought of sleeping in a tent for weeks at a time and getting paid for it make you giddy? Working for a state conservation corps such as the Montana Conservation Corps or Washington Conservation Corps provides opportunities to work in the backcountry for several months at a time. These organizations also have opportunities for veterans and college graduates.

Start Your Own Thing
Have a great idea for a local outdoor initiative? Want to teach people about the outdoors, but don’t have the funds? Apply for a grant through nonprofits such as Outdoor Nation who give away tens of thousands of dollars each year to young people looking to make a difference for the environment. The best way to learn a new skill is to just dive in and start doing it. Besides, nothing looks better on your resume then being able to say you led your own initiative instead of following one.

By Jennifer Lutman