GSA Online Application System



Public Land Name:
Hiawatha National Forest

Position Title:
CLOSED Karst and Bedrock Management Assistant

Agency: USFS

Position Type: GeoCorps

Position ID Number:

Michigan, St. Ignace

Accepting Applications? No

# of current Applicants: 18

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 Hiawatha National Forest is developing a Karst and Bedrock Management (KBM) Plan to support land and vegetation management on the Forest. The goal of the KBM plan is to protect karst and karst-related resources including flora and fauna that depend on these features for survival, as well as groundwater. The plan will provide consistent guidance for land management activities occurring on or near the Forest’s karst features. The GeoCorps participants duties will include:

  • Project Leadership: Help coordinate and take on some leadership responsibilities for the development of the KBM plan. Document and help plan project development.
  • GIS Mapping: Use GIS to perform aerial extent mapping of karst, particularly epikarst features on the Forest, using the Forest’s imagery, LiDAR and GIS data.
  • Perform field verification of a subset of GIS mapping efforts through field identification and limited field mapping of relevant epikarst and other karst features.
  • Database Management: Create and manage a geodatabase of karst and epikarst features for use by Forest land managers and resource specialists.
  • Plan Development: Identify data gaps and research other remote sensing techniques and methods to obtain data to fill gaps in the Forest’s dataset.
  • Partnership Development: Identify partners that may have data that can contribute to KBM plan development.
Dynamic Soil Properties (DSP) research project: the participant will commit one to two weeks helping other GeoCorps participants and Forest Soil Scientist with field work for the DSP project. This will involve soil disturbance monitoring, collecting soil samples for lab analysis, and soil pedon and vegetation descriptions.

The GeoCorps participant will be part of the Forest’s soil and watershed program and will work closely with the program’s staff. Outside of the duties listed above there may be opportunities for watershed field surveys, Best Management Practices monitoring, and soil disturbance monitoring. The participant may also work with experts from the Forest Service Eastern Region and Washington offices and academia to coordinate related efforts on characterizing karst on the forest. 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:
This project will provide the GeoCorps participant with a practical application of their GIS skills and opportunities for problem solving. In addition, the participant will get the opportunity to improve and develop their communication and leadership skills. A successful project will result in at least these four deliverables:

  1. Project Roadmap – The participant will develop a roadmap for the project that includes next steps and a tentative timeline.
  2. Geodatabase – The participant will create an organized geodatabase of mapped karst features on the Forest for use by resource specialists and Forest leadership.
  3. Map – The participant will create a reference map(s) of all karst features in the geodatabase.
  4. Short Report – The participant will provide a short report describing what was performed, the effectiveness of using GIS to identify and map karst features on the forest based on the results of field verification, and any recommendations for further identification and mapping of karst on the forest.

Agency involvement (project oversight, mentoring, team building, etc.):
Oversight, supervision, and general mentorship for the participant will be taken on by the East Unit’s Hydrologist/Soil Scientist. Geology and hydrogeology mentorship will be provided by the Region 9 Regional Hydrogeologist. The participant may also be able to get guidance and education from national Forest Service and academic experts on karst. The participant should expect to frequently work with the Forest’s GIS staff for database development and for assistance with GIS issues. The Forest will provide the participant with an orientation of the Forest, including facilities and personnel, a project briefing, training on the use of GIS in the Forest Service’s desktop environment, and training on the use of field equipment.

Professional development & learning opportunities: (trainings, certifications, networking, etc.):
The selected individual will work closely with the Forest’s soil & watershed staff, the Regional Hydrogeologist, and Forest GIS staff. They may also be working with Forest Service and academic experts on karst. These folks will serve as a valuable knowledge base for the participant as well as an opportunity to network and develop contacts for job opportunities in the federal government. The Forest Service has numerous geospatial training courses available to improve GIS skills and the selected individual is encouraged to take advantage of these. Geology, soil, and watershed webinars are also frequently available to keep up with the latest science and techniques. There are occasional field-based trainings for geology, soils, and watershed, as well as opportunities for training related to federal law and land management such as NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).

Leadership Development:
The selected individual should have many opportunities for leadership development as the project leader for the KBM plan. They will gain experience in project planning, management, organization, and workflows. There will be lots of opportunities to improve their oral and written communications skills as they interact with agency staff and other team participants. As the resident subject matter expert, the individual may also get opportunities to mentor and teach other Forest staff about relevant geology concepts and local geology.

Presenting Project Results:
The GeoCorps participant should expect to facilitate at least one interdisciplinary team meeting to update team participants on the status of the project. There may also be an opportunity to present the project to the Forest Leadership Team.

Physical/Natural Environment:
The Hiawatha National Forest is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) 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 where the GeoCorps participant will be stationed. This is a recently glaciated area, and the local geology and terrain of the Forest reflects this. The landscape is relatively flat with occasional low rolling hills, moraines, and sand dunes. Vegetation is a mix of conifers and northern hardwoods, with much of the area being lowlands supporting wetlands or peatlands. Karst-bearing rock is found throughout the Forest, although most known karst features are found within the Niagara Escarpment. Summers are generally mild with high temperatures generally not going over the mid-80s. The East Unit duty station is surrounded by three of the Great Lakes, including Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. There are many outdoor recreation opportunities available in the area, as well as tourist destinations such as Mackinac Island near St. Ignace and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, MI on the West Unit.

Work Environment:
This project is a Forest-wide effort and is currently based out of the St. Ignace Ranger District office. Most of the work will occur in an office environment (70-80%) and the remainder in the field. The participant will be provided a workstation and laptop with relevant software to perform their duties. Most of the time will be spent mapping karst features using GIS and developing a geodatabase of karst data. A smaller portion of work will be spent in the field verifying mapping efforts or assisting soil & watershed staff. The selected individual should be capable of hiking through potentially thick forest and/or brush while carrying a light load of field equipment. The forest is generally level, requiring little if any climbing, and wetlands are common on the forest. Expect to deal with bugs all season long. Weather will generally be pleasant with moderate humidity levels typical of the northern part of the Eastern United States . Potential hazards include uneven bedrock surfaces and openings obscured by vegetation (especially in areas of epikarst), tick-borne diseases (requiring proper use of insect repellent and clothing), hot muggy weather, and unexpected stormy conditions. Potentially dangerous animals (e.g., black bears) are rarely encountered.

Applicants must have a BS degree in geology (preferred) or be working towards the completion of their degree in geology with courses in petrology and sedimentology. Completion of a field mapping course is also preferred. Applicants with additional coursework in karst geology and/or carbonate petrology will be strongly considered. One or more courses in hydrogeology would be helpful, but not required. Applicants should also have strong GIS skills in ArcPro and ArcGIS Online and be familiar with using aerial imagery and LiDAR data.

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. A personal vehicle is required for travel between housing and the office, for personal errands, and for exploring the area outside of work. A government vehicle will be provided for all work-related travel after completion of a defensive driving course.

Position Dates:
6 May to 26 July, 2024 (start/end dates are flexible)

Position Duration: 12 weeks

Hourly Wage: $15.00/hour + up to $4,000 in reimbursements (funding for housing and some for use related to work/travel to neighboring forests)

Housing Details:
Free government housing is not available at the assigned duty station, so the GeoCorps participant will be required to make their own housing arrangements. An additional income payment will be provided to offset housing costs after starting, in addition to the participant’s normal hourly wage. St. Ignace is a tourist town, and many seasonal workers come to the area in the summer to support the tourist industry or work on Mackinac Island, so rentals may be hard to find and very competitive. Surrounding towns in the area, both in the UP or in the northern lower peninsula, may have more available housing options, although this will mean a longer commute and potentially having to cross the Mackinac Bridge (a toll bridge) daily if coming from the lower peninsula. There is a small chance government housing may become available by the time the selected individual is ready to start, however the participant should not count on this and plan to obtain their own housing.

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.

Shane Flickinger
Hydrologist / Soil Scientist
W 1900 West US-2
St. Ignace, MI 49781

Troy Thompson
Regional Hydrogeologist
626 East Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202