From ACE to the BLM: An Alum’s Journey to Federal Hire
Written by: Chantell Aubut
Hi, I’m Chantell Aubut and I’m a Hydrology Technician with the Bureau of Land Management working out of the Humboldt River Field Office in Winnemucca, Nevada. After I graduated college in 2020, I served in AmeriCorps State/National as an Education & Monitoring Technician with the Palouse Conservation District in Pullman, Washington. During this term I gained lots of experience working with community outreach, monitoring water quality, installing riparian buffers, and soil sampling on agricultural fields. Eventually I joined AmeriCorps NCCC where I served with BLM California primarily doing trail work, data collection, and implementation of conservation efforts across the state. This was my first introduction to federal land management, and a great one at that!
Through the connections I made during my AmeriCorps NCCC term I was able to get an internship through ACE as a Resource Inventory Team Member with the BLM Ukiah Field Office in Ukiah, California. During my internship I was given the opportunity to inventory BLM lands for wilderness characteristics. The purpose of this inventory was to support BLM’s multiple use mission and to maintain an inventory of all public lands and their resources in accordance with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). Myself, and one other intern were tasked with identifying areas of interest, how to access these areas, survey the areas, and finally write up a formal report of our findings. The data collected contributes to the decision-making process of how to manage these lands in support of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Being an intern with ACE gave me an accurate experience of what it would be like to be a full-time federal employee. I was given the freedom and responsibility to access remote areas in rugged terrain while collecting meaningful data that will be used on a larger scale. My favorite part of my internship was being able to be outside and enjoying the scenery, all while I was working. I got to see the inner workings of a BLM office, and how each employee played a role in maintaining BLM’s mission. Being able to work alongside professionals was such a valuable experience that truly set me up for success in my future endeavors in the federal government. A lot of the skills I gained during my internship are applicable to my current position now.
The hours I served in AmeriCorps NCCC and as an intern with ACE made me eligible to receive a Public Land Corps Hiring Authority (PLC). Navigating the federal hiring process can be confusing and difficult, especially for individuals just entering the workforce. Having a PLC allowed me to apply to merit positions, ultimately making the applicant pool much smaller and the chances of me getting an interview much higher. AmeriCorps and ACE allowed me to network with federal employees who gave me great advice on applying for federal positions, and I even used many of them as references on my applications. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career if it wasn’t for the time I spent serving as a corps member or intern with the BLM. For anyone looking to start a career in conservation with the federal government I highly recommend looking for any opportunities to gain more skills and experiences to add to your resume and ask tons of questions! Most of us have been in your shoes and love to help others advance their careers.