Want to Work on the Appalachian Trail? Here Are 4 Amazing AT Job Opportunities
If you’ve spent any time hiking on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), you’ve likely seen crews performing Trail maintenance or encountered a ridgerunner helping visitors. These are the highly visible folks out on the A.T. that make the hiking experience better and safer, and help maintain the Trail for future generations.
However, you may not know that there’s a suite of other seasonal jobs that are focused on conserving the lands and species of the A.T. If you want to spend your spring, summer, or fall out working to protect the A.T., the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has many opportunities to get involved. Get paid to hike, take in the views, enjoy the quiet of the woods, or identify plants on sunny balds. Below are some of seasonal conservation-focused jobs that will pay you to spend time on the Trail — what could be better?
Visual Resource Inventory Technicians and Crew Leader
Views are an important part of the hiking experience, and over 90% of visitors agree. To actively manage and protect the views along the A.T., it is crucial to have good baseline information about the location and condition of all existing views. The Visual Resource Inventory (VRI) is just that: a process to document and evaluate the views along all 2,198.4 miles of the Trail.
In 2023, the ATC is hiring three Visual Resource Technicians ($18/hr) and one VRI Crew Leader ($21/hr) to inventory the views along the A.T. in Maine. Each week, the team spends four days hiking the Trail collecting view data, with one day per week devoted to data entry, upload, and organization. The crew will be based out of Bangor, Maine, and will camp close to the Trail during the week.
The work involves using the principles of art and design to evaluate the scenic quality of views, as well as DSLR photography, GPS, and other data collection methods. The data the team collects are used by a variety of organizations for projects like landscape protection and viewpoint management. If you are in it for the views, have a strong attention to detail, and are an experienced hiker, this is the gig for you.
Land Stewardship Technicians and Field Coordinator
The ATC is hiring three Land Stewardship Technicians ($18/hour) and one Land Stewardship Field Coordinator ($21/hour) to maintain the boundary lines of the protected land that surrounds the A.T. This challenging and rewarding work involves hiking off-trail through untouched forests, clearing vegetation with a cutting tool called “loppers,” putting up boundary signs, repainting blazes on trees, locating survey markers, and collecting data on the field conditions and completed work. This team ensures that the A.T. is protected by a well-marked boundary line and that neighbors are respecting that boundary. The pristine wildlands and unmatched hiking experience on the A.T. would not be possible without the work of the Land Stewardship Team.
During the 4-day workweek, members of the Land Stewardship team car-camp in the woods near the Trail. This job provides a different perspective of the A.T. and allows workers to see rarely-visited forests and become more familiar with how this land is protected for all to enjoy. Locating boundary survey markers is a bit like geocaching or scavenger hunting: we use GPS, paper maps, compasses, metal detectors, and shovels to sometimes literally dig-up markers that haven’t been seen for years.
Our crew will be based out of Bangor, Maine — with fieldwork primarily in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness — and we’ll take trips to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and other sections in Maine’s High Peaks region. We’ll also host work trips where we’ll teach and lead volunteers who come out to camp and work with us.
This job is perfect for people who love to hike, camp, and work hard in the woods, and it’s a great way to get started on a career in conservation, environmental science, forestry, surveying, or outdoor recreation. We’re looking for people with positive attitudes and strong hiking and camping experience, and we’ll provide training in skills like survey reading and GPS data collection.
Roan Highlands Naturalist
The Roan Naturalist position is unique because it combines some ridgerunner responsibilities with natural resource management work. This role is co-supervised by the ATC and the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. This seasonal position operates almost exclusively on the Roan Massif from mid May through mid-August ($13/hr plus housing and utilities). The main task of the Roan Naturalist is public education and outreach on the Trail, with approximately 75% of patrol time being spent between Carvers Gap and Grassy Ridge. Most of the population encountered along this stretch are day hikers, many of whom are not familiar with Leave No Trace principles, which provides an amazing opportunity for engagement and education.
Besides the amazing views Roan Mountain provides, it is home to an abundance of rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) species, including Gray’s lily, Carolina northern flying squirrel, spreading avens, and the spruce-fir moss spider, which are vulnerable due to issues like trampling, habitat loss, and climate change. When the Roan Naturalist is not on patrol connecting with Trail visitors, they are out working on stewardship projects on the Roan including grassy balds management, golden-winged warbler habitat management, and collecting data on spruce-fir forests.
Non-Native Invasive Species Coordinator
Non-native invasive species (NNIS) are a growing problem on the A.T. landscape. NNIS can outcompete native plant species, forcing out the native plants that provide valuable food and habitat in the ecosystem. The primary responsibility of this new position is NNIS management on the A.T. from south of Shenandoah to Springer Mountain, and will be based out of the ATC’s office in Asheville, North Carolina. This is a 3-year term position with a start date of spring 2023.
The NNIS Coordinator ($20-$21/hr) will update the ATC’s NNIS inventory from Virginia to Georgia, document species occurrences, make maps, create management prescriptions, and file related management documents to our federal partners. This position will also perform on-the-ground management of NNIS with partners and volunteers as well as manage NNIS contractors and youth crews. In all, the position will involve lots of hiking, traveling, and exploring.
Additional responsibilities will include open areas management at places like Roan or Max Patch, corridor and boundary management in Virginia, and forest health initiatives.
If you’re interested in getting paid to spend time on the A.T., visit the ATC careers page and apply today.
The preceding was a guest post courtesy the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Head to their careers page to see even more ways to get paid to work on and/or with the AT.
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