Emerging Professionals in Conservation (EPIC)
ACE EPIC individual placements and fellowships provide recent graduates with focused, hands-on opportunities to work alongside and under the guidance of agency mentors as they apply their knowledge of resource management on their path to becoming the next generation of resource and land managers. The EPIC Program not only provides an invaluable step for those seeking a link between the academic and professional worlds but also allows members to explore, connect, and preserve America’s natural and cultural resources as they gain professional skills and cultivate their careers in the resource management field. EPIC operates in coalition with partners such as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other conservation focused groups. Positions available through EPIC and its partners are spread across a wide range of specialized conservation oriented vocations and typically last 2-12 months.
EPIC members often have degrees and/or experience in disciplines such as, but not limited to: conservation or wildlife biology, botany, ecology, entomology, forestry, geography, archaeology, paleontology, geology, environmental sciences, recreation or natural resources management, or cultural resources. Members earn a cost of living allowance and are provided with either dormitory housing at their service location or a housing allowance. ACE is a proud partner and supporter of AmeriCorps, and many EPIC positions allow members the opportunity to earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.
The variety and quantity of exposure I got through this program is astounding to look back at. Working with this office has given me experiences I wouldn’t have been able to receive elsewhere.
EPIC Project Areas
ACE EPIC offers a large variety of natural science and conservation-oriented individual placement positions that are focused in numerous program areas.
Key projects in the cultural resources field deal with the preservation of historical and cultural landscapes and structures, applied research in archeology, historical and cultural anthropology, education and community outreach, and the management of museum collections. Members can expect to work in highly specialized areas and intricate types of conservation that fall within the broad range of responsibilities of the cultural resources vocation. Applicants for these positions typically have a degree and/or experience in cultural resources management, archaeology or anthropology, or a related field.
EPIC members with career aspirations in the specialized field of rangeland management are often partnered with the Bureau of Land Management, with the millions of acres of rangeland under its stewardship. The purpose of managing the nation’s rangeland is rooted in the protection of wildlife habitats and wildlife resources, supervision of livestock grazing, and management of recreation and its associated resources. Members in these positions assist rangeland managers and other BLM resource specialists in accomplishing the following types of work: surveys, monitoring, maintenance, habitat assessments, invasive species management, restoration, botany, data entry, and habitat protection along with other duties associated with public land stewardship.
Positions focused in the specialized field of forestry can work in a variety of locations and under the supervision of various land management agencies. EPIC members in forestry gain experience with a wide range of tasks and initiatives, such as: hazardous tree removal; collecting and entering field information into agency databases; forest vegetation management; native habitat restoration; ecological restoration; native seed collection; nursery management; and restoration site maintenance. Members work within the BLM, NPS, USFS, and other partners in exciting and challenging forestry career-oriented positions that open hands-on opportunities to learn a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experiences.
The field of land management in the United States is intrinsically linked to the existence of a general philosophy necessitating that public lands should be available for recreational use by the general populace. Nearly all EPIC positions will include —to a modest degree— dealings with public recreation. Some positions will place more of an emphasis on recreation initiatives than others, but restoration work, education and outreach, policy, GIS, and land stewardship are key components of keeping public lands available for the public’s recreational use. All ACE EPIC members interested in a career in conservation and public land management should be well-versed and prepared for the issues that recreation presents in relation to both their vocational aspiration and desired position.
Wildlife and Fisheries Management
Members with ambitions to work within the field of wildlife and fisheries management should be prepared to work in a wide range of conditions and locations, as well as be able to adapt to completing tasks not limited to one specific initiative. A career in wildlife and fisheries management often combines field research, surveying, and monitoring of both species and habitats. Positions often include working within a variety of ecosystems, habitat assessments, and restoration. This vocation generally requires members to be well-versed in the areas of botany, zoology, ecology, biology, wildlife, fisheries, entomology, and other related disciplines.
Environmental Policy, NEPA, GIS
EPIC members working within the realm of environmental policy will often work closely and in conjunction with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes. NEPA was established in 1969 by the federal government to ensure that all agencies of the federal government develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) when they prepare, permit and undertake major federal actions and projects that could significantly affect the environment. These projects could include new recreation trails, proposed restoration sites, and other ecological projects occurring on public lands. NEPA facilitates and streamlines the environmental review process and project planning for various environmental fields and includes organizing records, databases, document preparation, and review. GIS databases are essential components to many public land management projects and programs in order to organize, inventory and manage resource data, as well as create maps and other compliance documents. EPIC members working in GIS and environmental policy will gain a strong understanding of the different policies and procedures that relate to various resource management projects and programs, from wildlife biology, recreation, to cultural resources.
Interpretation, Education, and Outreach
In support of a partner agency, ACE EPIC positions focused in interpretation, education, and outreach will deal with —in the support of whichever agency they happen to be working within— the education of youth, teachers, and communities in the significant aspects of natural and cultural resources, conservation, and ecologically sound practices. The curriculum and programs are often tailored to the missions of the agencies and the circumstances of the environment in which the member is working in and with, whether it is the BLM, NPS, the Catalina Island Conservancy, or one of ACE EPIC’s numerous other project partners.
Invasive Vegetation Management
EPIC positions focused in the management of invasive plants, including monitoring, treatment, and removal, will work in a variety of locations and under the direction of agency botanists and mentors. The need to keep invasive species in check is a paramount issue for the preservation and conservation of lands under the stewardship of the BLM, NPS, USFWS, USFS, and other conservation groups. Through EPIC, qualified candidates will be placed in positions to learn and manage the growing threat of invasive species both in the present and for the future of native ecosystems.
Individuals with ambitions to work in the field of wilderness conservation and management may work within and under the supervision of several land management agencies, which include: the BLM, NPS, USFWS, USFS, and other project partners. EPIC wilderness members will be involved with the planning, designing, and carrying out conventional operation work and assigned projects within the areas of wilderness/recreation programs. Those in wilderness management positions may often monitor backcountry and other recreation areas for off-highway vehicle (OHV) and other types of land use, as well as gather geospatial data on these types of incursions, monitor water resources, collect wilderness character, perform ecological surveys, and assist with activities such as construction/maintenance of fences and other barriers, installing signs, and minor rehabilitation of existing restoration sites like vehicle damaged lands.