FRWA Hiring: Seasonal River Stewards, Summer 2017 (PT)

The Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) is accepting applications for two River Stewards for summer 2017.  River Stewards will work in the field, laboratory, and office on several projects, including weekly water quality sampling and analysis; assessments of aquatic animal passage at road-stream crossings as weather permits; outreach (live and online) to promote safe and responsible river recreation; and assisting with FRWA’s “River Smart” outreach activities.

Background.  The Farmington River is one of the most popular recreational rivers in Connecticut, with world-class trout fishing and whitewater paddling reaches, plus flatwater stretches and riverside trails.  It has small scale hydropower, and provides drinking water for over 450,000 people in greater Hartford.  Though intensively managed, it still faces challenges to its water quality and aquatic life.

FRWA is the private, non-profit organization, founded in 1953, that is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Farmington River and its watershed.  (see www.frwa.org.)  Seasonal positions at FRWA provide broad experience in watershed management, monitoring, planning, and public education, and balancing the many demands made on this natural resource.

Overview.  River Steward seasonal staff are based in FRWA’s office in Simsbury, CT.  They have responsibilities typical for entry-level professional positions in watershed associations (details below).  Their work entails travel throughout watershed towns as needed.  Seasonal staff are expected to work up to 24 hours per week, depending on need and weather, for up to 11 weeks from late May or early June through early to mid-August.   Most work is during regular weekday hours; early morning or early evening hours are sometimes needed.

Seasonal staff participate in:

Water quality monitoring.  FRWA provides water quality data to the CT DEEP as part of state compliance with the Clean Water Act;  data collection and analysis is therefore held to a high standard.   Monitoring is ongoing throughout the season and requires at least one seasonal staff every Monday and Tuesday.   It includes training; collecting water samples from the field; laboratory preparation and analysis of samples for bacteria, data quality assurance and entry.  Other tasks may include placing temperature data loggers, choosing additional sampling sites, and field collection of benthic macroinvertebrates.

Stream crossing assessments.   Seasonal staff will work with FRWA staff to evaluate road-stream crossings (culverts and bridges) in the lower Farmington River for their ability to allow passage of aquatic animals.  The process also identifies crossings vulnerable to failure in extreme storm events.  We use the protocol of the North Atlantic Aquatic Continuity Collaborative (NAACC), used by other agencies and organizations throughout the Northeast.   Data are uploaded to a regional database for viewing and analysis.  Seasonal staff undergo mandatory training and testing in the protocol; obtain and record data at field sites; and assist with reviewing and uploading data.  Note, this work is highly dependent on appropriate stream flow conditions.  Drought will significantly reduce the hours available.

Public education and outreach.  This may entail face-to-face interaction with recreational users to encourage safe practices and good river etiquette, maintaining a lively online presence for FRWA on our website and in social media, and participating in programs, events, and field trips for youth and the general public.  A high priority in summer 2017 is assisting with FRWA’s “River Smart” outreach program.  Its objective is to engage people in adopting practices that reduce polluted stormwater runoff. 

Qualifications.  The ideal candidate is an advanced undergraduate or recent graduate, highly motivated to pursue environmental management, restoration, or advocacy as a profession.  Coursework in environmental science and experience in field work and data collection are strongly preferred.   A can-do attitude, imagination, interest in learning, flexible response to circumstances, “people skills,” and good humor are important.

Job Requirements.  Seasonal staff are expected to:

  • Work well on a team or independently, and be at ease with a variety of people;
  • Have excellent written, verbal, and online communication skills;
  • Represent FRWA in a friendly and professional manner;
  • Have their own reliable transportation at all times;
  • Commit and adjust to weekly hours that vary with weather and task;
  • Climb up and down steep banks and wade in rocky streams;
  • Paddle a canoe or kayak in flatwater or mild current (Class 1-2);
  • Work outdoors and cope with poison ivy, thorns, ticks, insects, and wildlife;
  • Have experience in safe guidance of youngsters in an outdoor setting;
  • Be diligent about details when analyzing, recording, and uploading data;
  • Be familiar with (or quickly learn) basics of GIS software, Google Maps, and use of GPS units;
  • Be good organizers and take responsibility for the success of an event or activity;
  • Be communicative and accountable, with “deliverables” that are complete and timely.

Compensation.  $10 per hour.  Travel to field sites will be compensated at $0.54 per mile.  This position may require a background check.

To apply, send a cover letter, resume, two professional references, and two writing samples to:

Eileen Fielding, FRWA, 749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT  06070  or efielding@frwa.org

Deadline.   Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.  Hiring decisions are anticipated in April or early May.

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