GSA Online Application System



Public Land Name:
Tongass National Forest

Position Title:
CLOSED Cave Guide

Agency: USFS

Position Type: GeoCorps

Position ID Number:
2024619, 2024620

Alaska, Thorne Bay (2 positions)

Accepting Applications? No

# of current Applicants: 54

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.

El Capitan Cave is the largest mapped cave in Alaska, with over two miles of explored passages. The USDA Forest Service (USFS) is seeking two GeoCorps participants to work as Cave Guides in this unique and scenic environment. Primary duties include leading small groups (15 or less) on interpretive tours of El Capitan Cave. Tours generally last two hours and include discussion regarding the areas natural, cultural, and geological features. Secondary duties include minor trail work; brushing, cleaning, and mowing the administrative camp area, and other similar duties assigned. Guides are encouraged to explore the surrounding public lands to become better sources of area information. Guide training will be provided on site. In addition, field orientation with specialists (geology, archaeology, etc.) and required safety training (e.g., first aid/CPR, bear awareness, defensive driving) will be provided. Former guides have recommended that cave guides bring their own vehicle if possible, to allow for some freedom to explore the island during off time. The project is seeking two candidates to participate this season. 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 most important deliverables are:

  • Cave tour safety.
  • Distributing and collecting cave tour program surveys to visitors.
  • Accurate logging of cave tour visitor numbers.
  • Expectations include delivery of high-quality, safe cave tours, catering to all different audiences.
  • Assistance with recreation maintenance duties, such as weed-eating around the interpretive site and other nearby recreation sites will be expected.

Agency involvement (project oversight, mentoring, team building, etc.):
Each participant will be part of a two-person team. They will also receive oversight and supervision from the Prince of Wales Island Geology and Recreation staff. There may be additional opportunities to assist the Geologists with additional cave and karst related projects if the participant is interested.

Professional development & learning opportunities: (trainings, certifications, networking, etc.):
The participants will receive Forest Service safety trainings such as First Aid and CPR; also cave safety specifics. They will work directly with the Thorne Bay Geology office to manage the Cave Interpretive Program, including interpretation/education, communications, health and safety, customer service, and marketing. The participants will have the opportunity to network with local geologists, archaeologists, and other resource specialists.

Leadership Development:
The participant will engage in different multi-faceted projects that focus their skills and reveal the work qualities of the individual. The project provides the opportunity for the participant to develop or apply personal responsibility in their work. The rigorous schedule helps develop project management skills. The participant will also work with multiple stakeholders in their project, which will help the individual develop/demonstrate communication skills, and experience navigating organizational hierarchies.

Presenting Project Results:
Opportunities to present project outcomes will be determined. The participant is encouraged to present their work products and results at a GSA Annual Meeting or GSA Section Meeting.

Physical/Natural Environment:
The project is located on the Tongass National Forest, Thorne Bay Ranger District on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska. Thorne Bay is located on Prince of Wales Island, approximately 40 air-miles from Ketchikan, Alaska. Thorne Bay is accessed via the Interisland Ferry or by charter float plane. The community of Thorne Bay (approximately 450 people) is remote with minimal amenities; however, there is a market, tackle shop, library, and gas station. The largest community on the island is Craig (approximately 1,500 people) and is located 50 miles from Thorne Bay. There are hundreds of miles of roads on Prince of Wales, most unpaved. Recreation and learning opportunities are abundant with water-based activities such as boating and fishing being very popular. There is little development on the island. The setting is typical of southeast Alaska with abundant rain, rugged terrain, and dense old-growth forests.

Work Environment:
Work is carried out mostly in caves and outdoors, but some office work may be required. Guides generally work 4-5 days on, 2-3 days off and provide three guided tours a day on their work days (with occasional extra tours thrown in).

Good knowledge of geology, especially cave/karst features. Confidence to question the established and scripted information provided. Comfortable in a damp cave environment. Good physical fitness level. Comfortable living at a remote camp (tight living quarters in trailers, rustic facilities, no amenities nearby, black bear activity in area). Comfortable working with people and speaking in front of small groups. Interpretive experience is a plus, but not required (interpretive training will be provided at the beginning of the season). Self-initiative, ability to work with little supervision. A positive attitude is important. Caving can be a new experience for some visitors and often they are hesitant to enter the cave. A qualified guide will have a presence that invokes a feeling of safety and trust. Candidates must be able to work a minimum of 12 weeks, but there is a possibility of working up to 16 weeks.

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), a good driving record, and the ability to drive 4x4 vehicles. Personal vehicles are not required, but former guides have recommended that cave guides bring their own vehicle if possible, to allow for some freedom to explore the island during off time.

Position Dates:
Early/Mid-May–September 2024 (start/end dates somewhat flexible)

Position Duration: 12 weeks

Hourly Wage: $20.00/hour

Housing Details:
Free onsite housing is provided by USFS at no cost to the participant. Housing will be provided at the El Capitan Cave site on work days and at the Thorne Bay Bunkhouse on off days. "On Duty" days (El Capitan Cave site) – Housing is in a rustic bunkhouse that fits 4 individuals. The shared bunkhouse space offers basic kitchen appliances, dishware, utensils, pots/pans, etc. and basic shower and heat in the facility. The bunkhouse has an outhouse. "Off Duty" days (Thorne Bay) – Bunkhouse rooms are provided, rooms may be shared with one other person. Bunkhouse has a full kitchen, shower, laundry, and common living room area. Bunkhouse is located approximately one mile from the grocery store, ¼ mile from the convenience store, and ½ mile from the library (free Internet access).

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.

Anna Harris
Forest Geologist
1312 Federal Way
Thorne Bay, AK 99919
 (907) 738-2137

Christian DeCelle
1312 Federal Way
Thorne Bay, AK 99919