ACE 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 jobs 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.

- Evan Lewis

Am I Eligible for EPIC?

ACE EPIC works within a variety of agreements with federal agency partners (USFS, NPS, BLM, USFWS) that all have specific requirements for eligibility. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you determine whether the EPIC Program is a good fit for you.

ACE Age Requirements

ACE has agreements with various federal and nonfederal partners. Most of our federal partnerships have age restrictions, which are outlined below. In general, non-federal partnerships, including non-profit organizations, agency “friends of” groups, or state and county projects, are open to prospective members who are 18 and up. 

  • National Park Service: Federally funded NPS opportunities accept applications from participants between the ages of 18-30 (up to 35 for veterans). 
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service: Federally funded FWS opportunities accept applications from participants between the ages of 18-30 (up to 35 for veterans).
  • US Forest Service: Federally funded USFS opportunities accept applications from all participants 18 and up, unless specifically noted for under 18. 
  • Bureau of Land Management: Federally funded BLM opportunities accept applications from participants between the ages of 18-30 (up to 35 for veterans). 
  • Non-federally funded opportunities are generally eligible for participants ages 18+ unless otherwise noted.
ACE-Agency Partnership

ACE enters into agreements with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as private and nonprofit organizations dedicated to conservation efforts. When offered and hired for an ACE position, you are employed by ACE and are not a federal, state, or local government employee.

AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a federally funded grant program that American Conservation Experience partners with which provides workforce and educational benefits directly to members who qualify. Not every position at ACE qualifies for AmeriCorps – if you don’t see AmeriCorps written on the advertisement, it is likely not an AmeriCorps position. 

Members can still participate in AmeriCorps funded positions and not participate in AmeriCorps, but they would forfeit the additional benefits provided if they were to do so. 

Additional benefits of AmeriCorps positions that aren’t available to non-AmeriCorps positions: 

  • Loan deferment
  • Education awards are available for those that successfully complete their terms and scale according to hours served, but can be valued at over $6,000 for a full year of service.

Any requirement that AmeriCorps has would be for AmeriCorps positions only, and would be in addition to any ACE requirement listed above. 

Some key requirements for AmeriCorps are as follows: 

  • Age: 17+
  • Schooling: There isn’t an educational requirement to enter an AmeriCorps position, but in order to utilize your Education Award, you must be either enrolled in a GED program, or have already obtained a GED or higher. 
  • Multiple terms: Members can only serve up to 4 total AmeriCorps Terms of Service, or the equivalent value of 2 full-time awards (i.e. two full-year 1700 hr terms; OR two 900hr terms and one 1700hr term; OR four 900hr terms, etc.). 
  • Must be willing and able to pass a federal criminal history check.
Citizenship Requirements

To participate in most ACE opportunities, applicants must be a U.S. Citizen (born or naturalized), a US National, a permanent resident, or be authorized to work in the U.S. (i.e. hold an official Employment Authorization Document-EAD). If you are uncertain of your citizenship eligibility please contact an ACE representative.

Covid-19 Vaccination Requirements

All staff and member hires must provide proof of vaccination for Covid-19 or have requested and been granted a medical or religious exemption to vaccination by the time they start their term. Offers are contingent on having completed this process prior to the start date.

Direct Hire Authority (DHA)

Direct Hire Authority is a designation you may see in some position descriptions which allows members with certificates to apply to federal positions that are normally only open to internal hires, and it allows agency staff to expedite the hiring process by eliminating rating and ranking, veterans’ preference, as well as typical selection procedures. For all five agencies (NPS, BLM, USFS, USFWS, USBR), this hiring authority is intended to increase representation of those coming from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds

 BLM: In the Bureau of Land Management’s DHA program, applicants are required to be currently enrolled in higher education, and can’t be graduated yet, and must be 17 years of age or older. 

 BOR: In the Bureau of Reclamation’s DHA program, applicants are required to be currently enrolled in higher education, and can’t be graduated yet, and must be 17 years of age or older. 

 NPS: In the National Park Service’s Resource Assistants Internships DHA (RAI-DHA) programs, applicants are required to be enrolled in a post-secondary degree program (undergraduate or higher) through the duration of the internship.

 FWS: In the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s DHA Directorate Fellows Program (DFP), applicants are required to be currently enrolled in higher education, and can’t be graduated yet, and must be 17 years of age or older. (Applicants may have just graduated undergrad and be accepted into a graduate program in the coming semester). 

 USFS: In the US Forest Service’s DHA Resource Assistants Program (RAP), there are no age or education restrictions to apply (other than 18 or older), but in order to utilize your certificate, you will have had to complete an Associates Degree or higher. Because of this requirement, preference may be given to applicants who already hold an Associates Degree or higher.

Driving

For any ACE position that requires driving, members must be 21 years of age or older, have a current and valid driver license, and possess an insurable driving record. Members must consent to have ACE run a motor vehicle record check to confirm that their driving record is insurable. Enrolling members will also complete a required defensive driving course and sign a driving contract. If you are unsure whether a position you are interested in will require driving, please reach out to the ACE contact person listed in the application.

 If you feel you may not be  eligible to drive on the job for ACE, please inquire with the ACE point of contact before applying.

Education Requirements

There is no blanket education requirement across all EPIC positions. EPIC positions are designed to give individuals specific experience in a particular position or agency, and therefore often seek applicants with specific job or educational skills. Specific educational attainment may be recommended for a position, but won’t be required unless it is explicitly stated (such as with DHA). Often, on-the-job experience can substitute for education. Similarly, education in a specific field can often substitute for job experience.  A college degree is not required for all EPIC positions.

Public Land Corps (PLC)

Public Land Corps (PLC) is primarily two things; 1) An federal act that provides youth opportunities to participate in conservation on public lands and 2) A non-competitive federal hiring authority for members who receive their PLC Certificate after service on a PLC project with ACE. 

 Most of ACE’s projects are funded through the PLC Act (PLC will be listed on the position announcement) which comes with some guidelines. In order to be eligible for a PLC Certificate, participants must be 30 or younger, or up to 35, inclusive, for veterans, and must complete 640 total hours, with 120 of those hours worked directly on PLC funded projects. Members with a PLC Certificate may apply to federal positions that aren’t open to the general public, but must otherwise meet other position requirements listed on the federal job announcements.

Substance Restrictions

ACE has adopted an Alcohol and Drug Policy which prohibits the use, possession, paraphernalia, manufacture, sale or distribution of alcohol or drugs (including marijuana and excessive quantities of prescription or over-the-counter drugs) on ACE premises or during ACE time.

EEO: American Conservation Experience provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Conservation Experience complies with applicable state and local laws governing non-discrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities.

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.

Cultural Resources

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 corps 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.

Rangeland Management

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.

Forestry

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; habitat restoration; ecological restoration; 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.

Recreation

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 jobs and 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 our ecosystems.

Wilderness

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.

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