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  • Wildlife Support Members - Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge

    Guest Danielle Ramsden
    • Employer: American Conservation Experience
      Location: Gautier, MS
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 08/13/2023
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    American Conservation Experience, a nonprofit Conservation Corps, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is seeking TWO members to support biology projects alongside Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge Staff. During this term, the ACE members will provide support and assistance under the guidance and direction of FWS staff in support of refuge wildlife biology programs, particularly recovery of the endangered dusky gopher frog (DGF) and the Mississippi sandhill crane.  

    For more information about ACE, please visit: www.usaconservation.org.

    Start Date: October 2023

    Estimated End Date: October 2024
    *a 52-week minimum commitment is required, approximately 2080 hours*

    Location Details/Description: Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, Gautier, MS

    This Refuge is located in Jackson County in extreme southeast Mississippi, less than 10 miles from the Gulf Coast.  It is part of the Gulf Coast Refuge Complex which includes Grand Bay and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuges located on the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama.

    The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 to protect and preserve the Mississippi sandhill crane and its critical wet pine savanna habitat.  The refuge consists of approximately 20,000 acres in three main units that include savanna, coastal prairie, cypress swamp strands, pine flatwoods, and brackish marsh.  The refuge is the only home of this endangered non-migratory subspecies of sandhill crane (crane) and provides valuable habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog (DGF) and several declining grassland birds like the Henslow’s sparrow, yellow rail, sedge wren, and numerous species of unique and rare plants. 

    For more information about Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/mississippi-sandhill-crane

    Position Overview: The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. This position will help FWS realize that mission at Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge via the Member’s contributions in this role:

    Primary Duties:

    • Headstart and release DGF. 
    • Prepare metamorph rearing tanks. 
    • Head-start DGF tadpoles for release including daily tank checks
    • Weigh, measure, and tag metamorphic frogs for release 
    • Release metamorphic DGF into pond  
    • Clean and store rearing tanks
    • Monitor DGF. 
    • Monitor translocated DGF using drift fence and remote cameras
    • Monitor DGF breeding by using egg mass observations, drift fence, and automated audio recorder
    • Monitor recruitment by using drift fence and dip nets
    • Monitor hydroperiod, temperature, and pH of DGF release ponds  
    • Acclimate and release captive-reared cranes 
    • prepare acclimation pens and blinds
    • measure, band, and attach transmitters
    • conduct daily checks, husbandry as needed, and conduct time budgets. 
    • Monitor endangered crane recovery
    • Conduct visual monitoring, blind surveys, camera traps, and nest surveys. Monitor GPS locations. 
    • Capture and attach bands/transmitters. 
    • Maintain accurate and detailed field records and enter data promptly and accurately into databases
    • Maintain rearing tanks and audio recording equipment, drift fence, crane feeders, camera traps, bownet and other crane traps. 

    Secondary Duties:

    • Assist with other wildlife surveys which may include calling frogs, bald eagle nest,secretive marsh birds, grassland bird area search, Audubon Climate Watch, Christmas Bird Count, & acoustical bat. Assist eagle banding.
    • Participate in habitat management and monitoring including invasive plant control and mapping, mechanical treatment of woody vegetation, and vegetation surveys
    • Maintain accurate and detailed field records and enter data promptly and accurately
    • Assist with Refuge public outreach including visitor contact and environmental education

    This individual placement is meant to facilitate professional development and promotes exposure to land management agencies and networking with professionals. This could include gaining experience in different conservation fields and shadowing different work groups.

    Schedule: Duties will primarily be carried out Monday - Friday, 7:00 am to 3:30 pm with a half hour lunch.  Bi-weekly totals should not exceed 80 hours.  A flexible work schedule will be required, which could involve work performed outside of normal work hours including early mornings or late evenings, on weekends and/or holidays.  Time off may be granted and requests should be directed to ACE and the FWS for approval.


    Position Benefits

    Living Allowance: The ACE Member is expected to contribute ~40 hours/week and will receive a living allowance of $400/week to offset the costs of food and incidental expenses, dispersed bi-weekly.

    AmeriCorps Education Award Program: This position may be eligible for a 1700-hour AmeriCorps Education Award while serving under the EAP 2022/23 grant year program, valued up to $6,495.00 upon successful completion of a complete service term and 1700 hrs. 

    Loan Forbearance: AmeriCorps members may also be eligible for federal loan forbearance. Additional enrollment steps are required.  

    Qualifying Child Care Coverage: AmeriCorps members may also be eligible for qualifying childcare coverage. Additional enrollment steps are required.  

    Public Land Corps Hiring Authority: Members serving under this agreement may be eligible for a federal hiring authority upon completion of their term of service. PLC projects also include specific eligibility requirements such as age and citizenship. Please contact ACE staff with questions about eligibility, or view general information online: https://www.usaconservation.org/epic/#eligibility-requirements.

    Housing: ACE members will be accommodated in provided FWS housing at no cost for the duration of the term.
    Housing will be at the Refuge owned Bunkhouse less than 200 yard from the HQ. The Bunkhouse is air-conditioned, has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and a TV. A Refuge vehicle for refuge activities is provided. A personal vehicle is required for travel in the area. The towns of Gautier and Ocean Springs are a 7 to 15 minute drive. 

    Relocation Allowance: ACE members will have access to up to $600 to be used for eligible relocation expenses. Further details regarding distribution of these funds will be provided during the interview process. 

    Gear Reimbursement: ACE members will have up to $200 to spend on eligible gear purchases. Eligible gear for this position includes boots, hats, sun protection, etc, and must be approved by ACE staff prior to purchase. 

    Provided Training/Orientation: ACE members will receive position specific training and an orientation outlining ACE policies and procedures, clear guidance on prohibited activities, and networks for support. Specific training may include 4WD truck operation, FWS ATV/UTV operation, handling and banding cranes, and tagging DGF. 



    • Members must be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, as required by U.S. government contracts
    • Willing and able to represent ACE and the partner organization in a professional, positive, and enthusiastic manner. 
    • Ability to be both self-directed/work alone, and be a positive, contributing member of a group.
    • A valid driver's license and an insurable driving record (documentation to be provided upon request).
    • Willing to undergo and must pass the required three-part criminal history check.
    • Ability to perform the essential duties of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
    • ACE Members will need to complete bi-weekly timesheets, beginning of term feedback forms, end of term evaluations and for longer terms, a mid-term evaluation. 
    • Members may not participate in any prohibited activities as listed in the Member Service Agreement or as defined by AmeriCorps.
    • To learn more about eligibility requirements, please visit our website: https://www.usaconservation.org/epic/#eligibility-requirements.
    • Knowledge of natural sciences
    • Writing skills with an understanding of basic grammar, punctuation, and spelling
    • Attention to detail
    • Ability to effectively communicate with supervisor and coworkers 
    • Flexibility
    • Ability to work in very hot, humid, and buggy conditions
    • Ability to work in physically demanding conditions, involving walking over uneven terrain, wading through water, sitting in small blinds for large periods, capturing and handling large birds, amphibians, and reptiles
    • Willing to work varying hours including before sunrise or at night
    • Ability to record accurate field data
    • Familiarity with Microsoft Office software 
    • Must take all measures possible to ensure the safety of yourself and others and understand all safety precautions involved


    • Competitive applicants for this position can hold or be pursuing a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and/or have relevant experience in subject areas such as natural resources, conservation, biology, etc.
    • Experience conducting biological surveys
    • Experience in wildlife monitoring 
    • Experience capturing and handling animals
    • Experience working with herptiles and large birds
    • Experience conducting invasive plant management
    • Basic GPS and GIS skills 

    Physical Demands, Work Environment and Working Conditions: 

    • Physical Demands: Requires frequent walking, hiking, carrying, using hands to handle or feel, reaching with hands and arms, talking and hearing, manual dexterity for use of various tools. Required to [stoop, kneel, climb stairs, and/or crouch. Ability to hike over rough terrain, and camp overnight under field conditions.
    • Vision Requirements: Requires close, distance, peripheral and depth perception vision as well as the ability to focus. 
    • Weight Lifted or Force Exerted: Frequently moves up to 20 lbs., ability to move up to 50 pounds.
    • Environmental: Work environment conditions can change frequently; working under adverse weather conditions and in various climates.
    • Noise Environment: Moderate to high noise such as gas-powered chainsaws and other hand and power tools. 
    • Travel: This position does not require unique travel.

    Environmental Conditions/Hazards:  The member is expected to conduct duties in a safe and orderly manner so as not to endanger self, fellow staff/members or resources. Field work may be in very hot, humid, and variable weather conditions, smoke, biting and stinging insects, ticks, thorny and poisonous plants, and venomous snakes.  Contact with herbicide may occur if treating invasive plant species.

    Vehicle and Equipment Use/Safety:  If a vehicle is required for the accomplishment of the duties, one will be provided by the FWS or ACE.  Any tools required for the accomplishment of the duties will be provided by the FWS. Use of personal protective equipment (PPE), typically provided by the FWS, will be mandatory for any activity that requires it.  Strict adherence to FWS and ACE equipment training, certification and safety protocols is required.  

    To Apply: Please submit your resume, a cover letter demonstrating your interest and experience, and contact information for three professional/academic references to the online application page for this position here: https://usaconservation.applicantpool.com/jobs/996530.html. Early consideration will be given as resumes are received. This position may close at any time. If you have any questions regarding this position please feel free to contact ACE EPIC FWS Member Manager, Danielle Ramsden, at dramsden@usaconservation.org.

    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.

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