Student Conservation Association Volunteer Program
As this nation's oldest and largest provider of community service in environmental protection, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) is an excellent choice as an organization with which to volunteer. This non-profit organization is funded by contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations, and the governmental organizations with which it works. SCA volunteer programs are open to anyone interested in gaining experience in the natural resource fields. In operation since 1957, the SCA annually places about 2,000 to 2,500 students and adults in volunteer positions with government agencies such as:
- The National Park Service
- The U.S. Forest Service
- The Bureau of Land Management
- The Fish and Wildlife Service
There are many types of SCA volunteers: resource assistants, fellows, and AmeriCorps participants. Resource assistants (RAs) work in wildlife conservation projects located in various federal lands.
There are numerous other opportunities with the SCA, which often provide living allowances, stipends, academic credit, or even student financial aid for education. Additionally, most positions do not require previous outdoor experience, only commitment and enthusiasm.
Because the SCA works in conjunction with many other government as well as non-government agencies, volunteering with SCA can land you a paying job at the institution you wish to work for. One RA described how volunteering with the SCA led him to leave corporate America behind and pointed him toward a second career: "After college, while working for a high-tech firm, I decided to take some time off to do an SCA internship. My experiences in SCA programs in Alaska and Maine changed my life.
For an interview with an SCA volunteer, click here.
Anyone who is at least 16 years old may apply to become an SCA volunteer. While many volunteers are college students, there are no educational requirements for most positions, and there is no upper age limit for SCA volunteers. Many SCA positions require little or no previous training, as volunteers are usually trained on the job.
SCA provides prospective applicants with a detailed list of anticipated openings in all fifty states. Many SCA programs, however, are extremely popular with volunteers, and there may be some competition for top choices of where to work.
Interested persons should write to request a listing and application, including $1 with their letter to cover postage.
The Student Conservation Association
P.O. Box 550
Charlestown, NH 03603-0550
Phone: (603) 543-1700
Fax: (603) 543-1828
In return you will receive an application form, which may be lengthy. Also some positions require an application fee, which can range from $10-$20. There are deadlines for certain SCA positions, and the selection process for each season begins on a specific date. The dates change from year to year, so call and ask what the deadline date is for the specific program(s) you wish to apply to. Returning the application materials prior to the beginning of the selection process is strongly recommended.