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AmeriCorps St. Louis

  • 1315 Ann Avenue, St. Louis, MO
  • www.acstl.org
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Emergency Response Team Member (AmeriCorps National Service)

Interested in conservation, wildland fire, and disaster relief?

Join AmeriCorps St. Louis as a full-time National Service Volunteer! As part of our 42-Member Emergency Response Team (ERT), you’ll gain experience and training in the fields of environmental stewardship, wildland fire, and emergency management over the course of an 11 month term. The ERT is a multi-functional rapid deployment group based out of St. Louis, Missouri, that has been called throughout the country to respond to floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, ice storms, and the COVID-19 pandemic. When not responding to disasters, the ERT functions as a conservation corps that assists partner organizations with vital natural resource management and restoration projects, including trail building and maintenance, habitat restoration, invasive species removal, and prescribed burning.

No prior experience is necessary, and all experience is welcome. Through the program, Members receive training and certifications in a variety of skill sets including chainsawing, wildland firefighting, and emergency incident management. Additional opportunities to develop leadership experience through the Assistant Team Lead program are available later in the service term. These experiences and certifications leave Members well qualified in related career fields after their service.

ACSTL provides a challenging and fun opportunity to explore the conservation, fire, and disaster fields; serve the environment and local/state/national community; meet people from different backgrounds; enjoy an outdoor office; earn money for education; and be a part of a supportive, welcoming community.

Quote from a current Member: “The service teaches you a lot and shows you how many opportunities there are in the three different focus areas. The community here is very strong and supportive and encourages everyone to learn and grow both individually and as a team member.”

Industry

min experience

salary range

$1.6k - $1.6k / month

Additional Job Details

International Applicants Allowed?
No
Work Visa Sponsoring Available
No

Job Overview

Environmental Stewardship: The normal day-to-day side of our program is the environmental stewardship focus area. There will always be Members serving on environmental stewardship projects, even if other Members are deployed on disasters. These projects consist of a wide variety of activities depending on what our conservation partner organizations would like us to do on a weekly basis. These activities vary depending on the time of year and may include invasive species removal (including herbicide application), glade and habitat restoration, hazard tree removal, trail maintenance and building, and fireline construction for future prescribed burns.

We partner mainly with the Missouri Departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, and Missouri conservation organizations and nonprofits, including the Ozark Trail Association, Great Rivers Greenway and Forest Park Forever.

Most of our conservation projects last 5 days, Monday through Friday, with the weekend off. Some projects require a 10-day, Monday through Wednesday of the following week, with the subsequent Thursday through Sunday off.

Conservation teams are usually 4-6 Members, including one Team Lead. We try to rotate team members every few weeks, so ideally every Member serves with everyone else in the Corps during their term. Sometimes team members change on a weekly basis.

In a typical week, Members arrive at the St. Louis office early Monday morning, have a briefing with the whole Corps, meet with their project team, pack out the tools and food needed for the week, travel to project sites in program vehicles throughout Missouri (and sometimes Illinois), and then return to St. Louis on Friday or the following Wednesday. This is the ideal schedule. All areas of our program are incredibly weather dependent since we mostly serve in the outdoors. If teams do not go out for days at a time due to extended bad weather, normal project timelines may be switched around. We do this to be as flexible as possible with our conservation partners because they are flexible with us when we have to pull whole teams away from the field to respond to disasters.

Wildland Fire: Wildland Fire is a major component of the Emergency Response Team that allows for diversification in our conservation program scheduling. A year with ACSTL affords Members a unique glimpse into potential career paths along both federal and non-federal fire tracts through the training opportunities provided both internally and by our partner organizations, scheduled field projects, and networking opportunities with our partners and our vast alumni network.

Many of our partner agencies engage in prescribed burning operations when weather allows (most prescribed fire activity occurs between February and April in Missouri and Illinois but prescribed fire windows can occur anywhere between October and May), generally employing ACSTL crews in both preparation activities (fireline construction & maintenance, timber stand improvement, glade restoration) and actual firing operations. The U.S. Forest Service (Mark Twain National Forest & Shawnee National Forest) utilizes ERT crews as a qualified type 2 Initial Attack (IA) resource for both prescribed burn operations as well as wildfire standby and response between February and April. There are also opportunities to gain non-federal fire experience with state partners as well as other non-government organizations (NGOs), such as The Nature Conservancy (in both IL & MO), Missouri Department of Conservation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and Missouri Department of Natural Resources, through prescribed fire operations and wildfire suppression activities on state land.

Fire experience is not guaranteed for all Members, but most people do get some experience and everyone gets fire training. We do our best to place Members who want experience on projects where the likelihood of burning is higher.

Disaster Response: As an Emergency Response Team, our priority as a program is to respond to natural disasters across the country. However, we only respond to disaster incidents when our assistance is officially requested by the local emergency management entity. This means that even if there is a very large disaster somewhere in the country during the service term, our program does not respond without being first requested. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee certain experiences in each area, especially disaster and fire, as every year varies due to weather, timing, and other factors. Therefore, you could potentially spend your entire service year on environmental stewardship projects without deploying to a disaster. However, Members interested in disaster services and emergency management as potential career paths do receive additional training, resources, and networking opportunities through a specialized development initiative called the Disaster Member Development Program.

When deployed, there are different types of services you could assist with, always following our program motto, “See The Need, Meet The Need.” Over the past three decades, ERT Members have been involved in every part of a response effort, including volunteer and donations management, warehousing, database management, call centers, as well as on the more direct service side with debris cleanup, sandbagging, and hazard tree removal. Due to the training they receive and our experience as a program, our Members often find themselves serving behind-the-scenes in an office environment helping to organize and manage the response effort as part of an Incident Command Structure. Sometimes we serve in a coordinated effort with other AmeriCorps Disaster Response programs; sometimes it’s only a small team serving with voluntary agencies. During a deployment, you could be serving up to 70 hours a week with very few days off. As much as possible, we try to rotate Members on deployment approximately every 30 days. It is important to note that since we may deploy anywhere in the country, you could be away from St. Louis for a long period of time.

Special Benefits

The Perks

  • $1,600 (pretax) monthly living stipend
  • $6,800 Education Award after the completion of the program (please see www.nationalservice.gov for more information)
  • Loan deferment and interest forbearance on qualified student loans during term of service
  • Health insurance reimbursement, if applicable
  • Free mental health support options 
  • 2-week winter break and national holidays
  • Personal Vacation Days and Sick/Mental Health Days
  • Access to gear discounts, free tax services, and other financial benefits

Training and Certifications: All Members receive extensive trainings and certifications throughout their term in the areas of emergency response, environmental stewardship, and wildland firefighting. Some of these trainings include team building and leadership skills, chainsaw and other power equipment operations, wildfire and prescribed burn operations, hand tool use and maintenance, risk management approaches, introduction to disaster services, Incident Command System (IS 100, 200, 700, 800), supporting people in crisis, emergency communications, and basic First Aid/CPR.

As long as training opportunities and partner availability permits, Members will have the opportunity to achieve their S-212 Wildland Fire Chainsaw certification and become Red Card certified as a Type II Wildland Firefighter through the U.S. Forest Service. 

As the term of service progresses, there will be further opportunities for development. One of these avenues is the chance to learn how to lead teams on stewardship projects through the Assistant-Team-Lead-in-Training process: dedicated weeks of shadowing, coaching, and mentorship with Team Leads at your own pace to give you support and get you comfortable with leading a team of your peers. It is a collaborative experience with Team Leads to support the background, scheduling, communicating, management and facilitation of success for all things project related.

Minimum Requirements

Qualifications

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • At least 18 years old by the program start date
  • Have at least a high school diploma or GED
  • Must pass National Service criminal history checks, at no cost to the applicant

Fitness Requirement: Members must maintain a high level of physical fitness during their 11-month term of service. The baseline level includes being able to pass the wildland firefighter Pack Test: a 3-mile walk carrying a 45-lbs pack completed in under 45 minutes. A position with ERT requires extensive walking, bending, kneeling, lifting, pushing, stooping, standing, carrying loads of up to 50 lbs, handling hand and power tools, and other physical labor for extended periods of time. Members will serve primarily outdoors, in all kinds of weather (heat, cold, rain, snow, etc). Should accommodations be needed, you will be asked to submit a letter showing you are medically cleared to serve safely with ACSTL. This letter should state recommended accommodations.

Preferred Qualifications

Open to Learning: Applicants do not need any prior experience. Successful ERT Members are willing to learn new skills and have the ability to function as supportive and dependable teammates, even in times of extreme stress and adversity. 

Flexible: Members should be flexible, open-minded, and prepared for a variety of unexpected experiences throughout their term of service. An interest in the outdoors, traveling and adventure is desired as Members spend most of their time out of town, living communally in rustic conditions. We are technically always on call for a disaster, and Members must be ready to change plans at the very last minute in order to respond. You will spend much of your service term with plans changing from week to week or even day to day. 

Diverse: Studies have shown that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), women, and other marginalized groups are less likely to apply for jobs unless they believe they meet every one of the qualifications as described in a job description. We are most interested in finding a diverse corps of people from different backgrounds. People with less traditional experiences are highly encouraged to apply. 

Committed: It is important to note the commitment that is required to be a Member here. Our 42 AmeriCorps Members are relied upon for the successful operation of our service projects and deployments. This program would not exist without the dedication of our Members, which is why we look for people who are willing to go the extra mile and are able to commit for the full 11-month term. We invest heavily in the development and training of our Members and aim to foster a mutual respect with the program, encouraging Members to help us improve as an organization and to consider serving for more than one term.


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