GSA Online Application System



Public Land Name:
Hiawatha National Forest

Position Title:
CLOSED Assisting Soil Science Technician

Agency: USFS

Position Type: GeoCorps

Position ID Number:

Michigan, Gladstone

Accepting Applications? No

# of current Applicants: 42

Position Description:

Each project can accept up to 100 applicants. GeoCorps applicants can apply for multiple projects per season. Applicants must complete a cover letter for each project for which they apply.

For current applicants: You are considered a project applicant once you have successfully added the project to your profile while you are logged into your application form. The added project would appear under “POSITIONS YOU HAVE ADDED” for the GeoCorps America Program. You are encouraged to add projects before you complete your application components. In order to be fully considered for any position, you must complete all application components before the application deadline passes on 28 January. Login to your GeoCorps application profile to check the status of your application components, and make sure to complete any remaining items before the deadline passes.

The GeoCorps participant will assist in the field data collection for a multi-year study of soil resources within the Hiawatha National Forest and the upper great lakes. This field position will provide an opportunity to do important field work in beautiful and remote regions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The participant will be a part of the soil resource team collecting field data on forest management sites. Primary duties will be largely field-oriented. The participant will be working with Hiawatha National Forest Soils Staff and others to evaluate the effects of forest management on soil and vegetation using standardized sampling and data collection protocols (i.e., Dynamic Soil Properties and Forest Soil Disturbance Monitoring Protocol). Work includes the collection of soil samples, assessment of soil condition and ecological site information including vegetation, performance of basic monitoring, and other conventional physical soil sampling techniques required to assess soil and site conditions. General data entry and management will also be required. As time allows, other duties may include: preparing soil samples for additional lab analysis, field inventories for karsts, bedrock, seasonal ponds, wetlands, and hydrology features, trail work, aquatic organism passage assessments, and more. This project is offered through the Geological Society of America's GeoCorps America Program, in partnership with the Lands, Minerals, and Geology Washington Office of the USDA Forest Service.

The program encourages participants to follow the same guidance provided to all USDA Forest Service employees and partners, which is to follow CDC guidance and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters that protect against the new and most prevalent variants.

Goals, outcomes, and deliverables:
The participant will conduct work supporting a standardized protocol for Lake States National Forests for assessing the effects of forest management activities on dynamic soil properties that is quantitative and repeatable across a gradient of soils, vegetation, and treatment conditions. Data collected will provide a comparison of reference to post-treatment conditions over time and space to help determine if changes to soil properties have negatively affected site productivity or ecology, and if so, how long it may take them to recover to reference conditions. This assessment will be used to guide the future of forest management impacts on soils. Although the project is specifically designed for Lake States National Forest participation, it is intended to be adapted to regional or national conditions on other National Forests throughout the US.

The primary goal of the assignment is to measure the effects of pre-and post-forest management activities (i.e., timber harvest, site preparation) on the soil using the Dynamic Soil Properties and Forest Soil Disturbance Monitoring protocols. Secondarily, the participant may be requested to complete data entry and assist other natural resource areas as needed. The participants will gain valuable insight into some of the complexities of natural resource management on a National Forest and will be able to explore various career opportunities within the Forest Service. The data collected by the participants will be used for monitoring reports, accomplishment targets, and vegetation management projects. The participant will share and discuss the information gathered with their local, USFS soil scientist mentor(s). Expectations include clearly written and properly stored project data.

Agency involvement (project oversight, mentoring, team building, etc.):
Oversight and guidance of the participant will primarily be taken on by the Hiawatha Soil Scientists. The Soil Scientists will initially spend time training the participant in the field and then will transition to data collection and oversight. The participant will work together with the Soil Scientist(s) to resolve data conflicts and issues when they arise. A greater amount of independence toward achieving project goals will be allowed once the participant demonstrates an understanding of the work, but there will always be oversight and collaboration throughout the project duration. The Hiawatha is committed to providing participants with mentorship and support. There may be opportunities to work with other resource staff on the Hiawatha National Forest. The Forest will provide the selected individual with an overall facility orientation, project briefing, and safety session before work begins. A Forest Service vehicle will be available to the individual for work after successful completion of defensive driving training, which will also be provided by the unit. A workstation will also be designated for the selected individual.

Professional development & learning opportunities: (trainings, certifications, networking, etc.):
The selected individual will be working closely with the Forest Soils staff throughout the project. Their knowledge and experience, along with other staff involved with the projects, will serve as a great knowledge base for the selected participant as well as an opportunity to network and develop contacts for future project work or job opportunities. The participant will receive an exposure to GIS technologies utilized in soil science and forest management, including LiDAR data and wetland ecosystem identification and inventory. These skills are applicable toward many natural resource-related professions in a wide variety of public agencies and private institutions in the US and abroad. In addition, the participant will be exposed to the work of other resource professionals, as well as provided with a thorough introduction to what working for the USFS looks like. The participant will also be exposed to various protocols used in data collection and lab processing. As they become available and are pertinent to the project, the selected applicant will be encouraged to attend local workshops or trainings. Trainings may include First Aid/CPR, computer security, safety procedures, defensive driving, and GIS. Additional training may be made available pertinent to land management.

Leadership Development:
The participant will have opportunities to work both independently and in a team environment, refining their leadership, planning, organization, and time management skills. They will get exposure to the Forest Service organization and careers, as well as a better understanding of how government agencies function. This position will be expected to largely assist with the field needs of the projects; however, depending upon the aptitude of the applicant a larger coordination role may be warranted.

Presenting Project Results:
As time allows, the participant may be asked to present preliminary results from their work (either in writing or orally) to one or more Forest Service staff. At a minimum, the participants will be expected to complete their required reports to GSA by the end of their assignment, before parting with the host agency. The participants are also encouraged to collaborate with their local mentors and other Forest Service staff in presenting their work or preliminary results at a GSA Annual or Section Meeting.

Physical/Natural Environment:
The Hiawatha National Forest lies in the central and eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is the only national forest to border three of the Great Lakes. The Forest is divided into two units, a West unit in the central UP and an East unit near the eastern tip of the UP. Summers are generally mild with high temperatures generally not going over the mid-80s. The forest is surrounded by three of the Great Lakes, including Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron.

The Hiawatha National Forest’s landforms and associated glacial deposits were formed by the Green Bay Lobe of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. While the area is relatively low relief compared to adjacent landscapes, there is great diversity of glacial landforms including: ground, end, and recessional moraines, outwash plains, lake plains, dune capped lake plains and glacial drainage channels. Sandy soils formed in glaciofluvial and outwash deposits dominate the forest’s uplands. A lesser proportion of coarse-loamy to fine-loamy glacial tills occupy morainic and bedrock-controlled landforms. Also worth noting are the area’s extensive wetlands which range from poorly drained mineral soils to deep Histosols. The Great Lakes, which surround the Hiawatha, create unique soils formed on beach ridges, dunes, and lake benches. The area is underlain by Silurian, Ordovician, or Cambrian sandstone or limestone bedrock.

Work Environment:
The project is based out of the Gladstone Supervisor Office, with most work taking place in the field across the Forest. The participant will mostly be working with the Forest Service soil scientist, as well as independently. There may be opportunities to work with other watershed staff and other GeoCorps members stationed on the Ottawa National Forest and on the East Unit of the Hiawatha. Fieldwork will involve strenuous physical activity, such as hiking in rough terrain, collecting soil bulk density samples, carrying heavy equipment, and/or working in uncomfortable weather (from hot to rainy to buggy), for many hours a day. Participants will need a sturdy pair of hiking boots, rain gear, and field clothes. Other field equipment will be provided. Work typically takes place Monday through Friday. Potential hazards include inclement weather, bugs, black bears, driving, and riding OHVs. Many areas of the Forest have poor to no cell phone coverage. The participant will be supplied with a FS radio or satellite messenger device to communicate for emergencies.

Applicants with or working toward a BS degree in natural resource, soil science, environmental science or other similar field with course work that includes soils, ecology, forestry, or botany will be the most competitive. Applicants with soil education and plant identification skills are preferred. The participant should be able to work well independently and with a team, both in the office and in the field with little oversight, have basic map reading and orientation skills, must be able to interpret aerial imagery, and be comfortable working in a field setting. Computer skills in Word, Excel, Survey 123, and ArcGIS Pro are preferred. Project work is largely outdoors in rugged terrain and may be buggy. Applicants must have a valid U.S. driver’s license and a good driving record and be able to demonstrate an awareness of safety. Applicants should be able to start work in early May and commit to a full 13 weeks minimum.

Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident (Green Card holder). Applicants must have a valid driver's license from a U.S. state or U.S. territory (i.e., Puerto Rico) and a good driving record. Prior to starting this position, the participant will need to pass a background check either with the host agency, GSA’s staffing partner, or both.

Applicants must be eligible to participate in Public Lands Corps, which means applicants must also:

  • Be between 18-30 years old inclusive during the timeframe they would finish the project (military veterans are permitted to be up to 35 years old during participation)
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
Compliance with Public Lands Corps eligibility requirements is defined by the legislation supporting Public Lands Corps opportunities (16 U.S. Code § 1723 - Public Lands Corps program). Read more about the benefits and requirements of participating in Public Lands Corps with the USDA Forest Service.

Vehicle / Driver's License Requirement (If applicable):
Applicants must have a valid driver's license from a U.S. state or U.S. territory (i.e., Puerto Rico) and a good driving record. Personal vehicles will be required for personal errands, for travel between housing and the work site, and for exploring the area independently during time off. Public transportation in the area is not available. Government vehicles may or may not be issued to participants for fieldwork. Should government vehicles be available for use (only during work hours), the Forest Service will provide all required training and certification to operate them. Experience operating four-wheel-drive vehicles and in rough terrain is preferred.

Position Dates:
6 May to 2 August, 2024 (start/end dates are flexible; possible option to extend end date as funding allows)

Position Duration: 13 weeks minimum

Hourly Wage: $20.00/hour + up to $4,000 in reimbursements (some of that funding may be reserved for use related to work/travel to neighboring forests)

Housing Details:
Free government housing is not available, so the participant will be responsible for finding her/his own housing. Supplemental income will be provided to help cover some of the housing costs. Most employees in the Gladstone office live in Escanaba, Gladstone, or in the Stonington Peninsula. The city of Marquette is located 60 miles north of Gladstone and is a popular tourist and college town (approx. 20,000 population) and the larger city of Green Bay Wisconsin is approximately two hours away (118 miles). There are many outdoor recreation opportunities available in the area, as well as other tourist destinations such as Mackinac Island near St. Ignace and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, Michigan.

If you have questions about the application and selection process, please contact GSA's GeoCorps managers.  If you have questions about any aspect of the position — description, qualifications, housing, dates — please direct them to the contact(s) listed in the project description. Remember, application materials can only be submitted online. The project contact(s) will not accept application materials sent to them via e-mail, mail, fax, etc. See the full program details at the GeoCorps homepage.

Ryan Bevernitz
Soil Scientist
820 Rains Dr
Gladstone, MI 49837

Lindsey Goss
Watershed Program Manager
400 East Munising Ave
Munising, MI 49862