2018 Americorps Stewards – Management-informing ecology and environmental sciences in a Mississippi River delta freshwater wetland landscape

Supervised by the Ecologist for Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and working with other natural resource management staff and potentially with park interpretive staff, the Stewards will assist with management-informing ecology and environmental sciences projects and programs at the park’s Barataria Preserve.  As Stewards gain familiarity and confidence, they may train and coordinate volunteer effort and they also may help develop within-park communication and public education about these endeavors.

This is an 8-12 week full-time (40 hours/week) commitment, beginning summer 2018.  (start date is flexible and there is an opportunity to extend this term)  Each Steward will receive $300/week stipend and an Americorps Segal educational award that may be used toward the cost of future formal education.  The park does not provide housing.  Applicants for these Steward positions should have completed, or be working toward, a Bachelors degree in biology, geology, natural resource management, environmental science, or a related field, and should possess sound scientific skills including strong curiosity, an open mind, basic data analysis, basic data management and familiarity with using basic laboratory and field equipment.  Additionally we seek Stewards who enjoy and wish to further develop their written and oral communication skills.  The Stewards will work outdoors much of the time, exposed to the hot humid climate, biting insects and other stresses and dangers of this region.  Applicants should be comfortable with working on and off of developed trails in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.  As the Stewards will work as part of a team and also independently, we seek individuals who operate effectively in both situations.

For more information, and/or to apply, contact Dr. Julie Whitbeck – julie_whitbeck@nps.gov.  The park will review applications on a rolling basis.

To provide a clearer understanding of the kinds of work involved, here is some text from my project description:
Goals:  The park’s overall goals for these Stewards are to 1) learn about ongoing rapid environmental change at the Barataria Preserve Unit and across this major river delta landscape, 2) sustain and extend data collection from an array of hydrology and elevation dynamics monitoring stations,  3) assist in improving data collection, processing and stewardship protocols, and 4) help us develop and monitor other tools to assess environmental change and biological (or biogeochemical) responses to these changes.  As time and interest allow, we will encourage Stewards to 5) identify and support opportunities for involving volunteers in this work, and 6) work with park interpretive staff to develop tools or programs that communicate the goals and findings of one or more of these projects.

Specific project effort and achievements will include:

  • contributing to monthly trail-based water quality monitoring and data stewardship
  • sustaining data collection & data processing from water level loggers
  • reviewing, improving and documenting hydrologic data collection and processing protocols
  • reviewing, improving and documenting hydrologic data analysis and communication protocols
  • developing & implementing data stewardship protocols and practices for water level data
  • installing water level wells into a few waterway channel locations across the Preserve
  • programming and deploying water level logger instruments into new wells
  • tailoring rSET measurement protocols for Barataria Preserve elevation dynamics array
  • developing & implementing data stewardship protocols and practices for Preserve SET data
  • assisting with 2018-2019 re-measurement of bottomland hardwood long-term study plot (understory [palmetto]/seedling observation, light environment, tree community, elements of net primary production . . . )
  • developing and/or implementing  monitoring studies to assess invasive species distribution, phenology and/or control
  • establishing external internet communications for Barataria automated weather station
  • developing and implementing data stewardship protocols & practices for this weather station