Frequently Asked Questions for Young Adult Program Field Staff
The Young Adult Programs run at Idaho Conservation Corps differ greatly from the style of program that helped found this organization – the Youth Programs. While the Youth Programs (16-19 year-old participants) run for 5 weeks straight, the Young Adult Programs (19+ year-old AmeriCorps participants) run a “hitch-based” or “spike” schedule where the crews go out for 9 days at a time and return to Boise for 5 days off. This allows our college-aged participants more flexibility in getting school materials together for the coming semester, researching and applying to their next job once their term of service is complete, buying groceries, paying bills, and – most importantly – having fun and exploring Idaho! With the flexibility in the schedule, many of the FAQs on our Youth Program Field Staff page are not relevant here but you are welcome to browse that page to get a taste for what those programs are like!
Hiring Process back to top
Q) What kind of training or experience is required to be eligible for hire?
A) Our staff come to us with varying degrees of prior training and experience. We will provide staff training before the program starts. Please see the qualifications on our webpage for a more comprehensive list of eligibility requirements.
Q) I have lots of experience with youth but not much experience doing trail work, should I apply?
A) Yes, you should apply. During our staff training you will gain trail work experience and we will teach you about the tools you will be using and different projects you will be working on. Throughout the session, you will have a Woodsboss or PC who will help you out on more difficult projects and continue teaching you things you need to learn. There will also be other staff with outdoor and trail experience who can help you out. Your experience with youth will be a great asset!
Q) I have lots of experience doing trail work but not much experience with youth, should I apply?
A) Yes, you should apply. During staff training we will discuss different ways of working with and motivating youth. Other staff will come with experience working with youth and will give you tips and ideas for dealing with youth. Once the program begins, you will constantly be learning more from your interactions with the youth. Your PC or Woodsboss will also be visiting your crew, and will see everyone most weekends and can help you deal with behavior problems and other issues that may arise.
Q) Is there a deadline for hiring field staff?
A) We operate on a rolling application process; we accept applications until all positions are filled. Even after programs start, we may still be accepting applications if we have positions to fill. Of course, we hire on a first come, first serve basis, so the earlier you apply, the better the chances of being hired and of getting the dates that work best for you if you have conflicts with certain dates.
Q) Do you do phone interviews for field staff positions?
A) Yes, we do phone interviews for field staff positions. Many of our staff come from all over the country, and we don't expect anyone to fly out here for an interview. If you live nearby however, we do ask that you come into our Boise Headquarters for an interview.
Q) What kind of references do you prefer?
A) We prefer professional references. Past or present supervisors, employers, college professors or advisors are all great references. We're looking for someone who knows you in a working or otherwise professional environment. Your reference should be able to speak to your leadership skills, organization, dependability, and overall work performance.
After being Hired back to top
Q) If I am hired, what happens next?
A) If you are hired, we will send you a hire letter by email. We will also email you a link to our staff website. On this website, you will find more detailed information about the program, such as gear lists, the ICC Staff Guide and Leadership Manual, Wilderness First Aid and CPR course information, and other useful information about Boise and ICC. Also on this website is all of the required paperwork that you will need to send in before you start working here.
Once you've been hired, print out the required paperwork, fill it out, and mail it to Idaho Conservation Corps. Next, familiarize yourself with the Staff Guide and Leadership Manual. Then get packed and ready to go for staff training!
Q) I am not available for the entire session. Would I be able to arrive late, leave early, or leave for a weekend in the middle of the session?
A) We ask that field staff commit to the entire session, from the beginning to the end. The schedule is most often structured as 9 days on and 5 days off and we try to get the schedule to you as soon as possible. As a single Leader for your crew, we ask that you stay with the crew for all 9 working days and try to schedule your time off during the 5 days between hitches.
If you aren't able to work the entire session, you should still apply, though. Each of our programs has a different schedule and we may be able to find one that works with your schedule. We also may be able to work with you to a limited degree. Of course, we prefer staff who are able to commit to the entire session, and we may ask that you give up that wedding in the middle of the session, or instead offer the position to someone who will commit to the entire summer.
Getting to Boise back to top
Q) Does everything start and end in Boise?
A) Yes. All field staff will meet in Boise at ICC headquarters prior to the session for staff training. From ICC Headquarters, we will provide transportation for staff and crews during work hitches throughout the session. Most Crew Leaders and their participants come with cars that allow them to adventure around Idaho in their off days; these cars will be parked at ICC headquarters while you are off on a work spike. More on this later.
Q) Does ICC pay for my travel expenses to and from Boise?
A) No, ICC does not pay your travel expenses to and from Boise. You are responsible for getting yourself to ICC Headquarters in Boise at the designated time on the designated day your program starts. Don't be late!
Q) Can I leave my car at ICC headquarters during the session?
A) Yes, you can leave your car parked at ICC headquarters. If you decide to leave your car at ICC, you will need to leave a key with ICC so we can move your car if necessary. We recommend that you leave a spare key, and keep your original key with you.
*ICC is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged property left at ICC headquarters.
Q) How can I get from the airport to ICC? Can someone pick me up at the airport?
A) ICC does not typically pick staff up from the airport. If you are flying into the Boise airport, you can take a taxi, or the Valley Ride Shuttle, which brings you to an intersection close to Headquarters.
Q) Do you have somewhere I can store things I don't need in the field?
A) Yes, you can store a duffel bag of personal belongings at the ICC headquarters. We have limited space, so we ask that you limit the amount of belongings you store with us.
ICC is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged property left at ICC headquarters.
The Fundamentals back to top
Q) It looks like the work boots are important; what kind of boots do I need? Where should I buy them?
A) Yes, the boots are important. ICC requires that your boots measure seven inches from the top of the heel to the top of the boot. Boots must also be all leather, with good traction.
Q) How often do I get my paycheck?
A) You will get paid once per month. Paychecks are issued on the last day of the month, and you will receive your paycheck from your PC or Woodsboss when you return from the last hitch of the month, if you don’t have direct deposit. If you have direct deposit, your paycheck will be put into your account on the last day of the month, and you will receive your pay stub from your PC or Woodsboss when you return to Headquarters.
Q) Is housing necessary for Young Adult Programs? What is housing like in Boise?
A) Housing is not necessary for our Young Adult Crew Leaders (Field Staff). Our leaders in the past have both found housing and just gone camping on their off days and we will let you weigh the benefits and challenges of both! If you want to stay close to Boise on your time off but not buy housing, the nearest campsites are on the Boise National Forest about 30 minutes from Headquarters and 45 from downtown. Should you choose to find housing in Boise, single rooms can rent out for as little as $300/month and leaders have often gotten together to split a room or find a house for themselves. Contact your Program Coordinator if you would like to get the contact information for other leaders and see if they want to split a house.
Q) What kind of food do you eat when out in the field? How do you handle food restrictions?
A) Our program participants are usually eligible for Food Assistance programs (Food Stamps), which helps supplement their meals and while you may not qualify, we still recommend you get together with your crew before each hitch to plan meals. One idea that has worked well in the past is to coordinate your 9-day hitch so that each participant and leader is responsible for a dinner (or on a smaller crew, each is responsible for two) or two folks get together and cook something twice per hitch, then each person is responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches. This gives you independence in choosing the cheapest and/or healthiest options for two meals while being able to come together as a community at dinner time to reflect on your day, share stories, and eat a great meal!
Some folks that are hired on may have allergies or dietary restrictions so please have that conversation with your crew as quickly as possible to avoid any dangerous scenarios with food preparation!
Staff Training back to top
Q) I am not able to be there for the entire staff training; will that be a problem?
A) It is not ideal to miss staff training, and we highly encourage every staff member to be at staff training for multiple reasons. Staff training is an intensive time in which we spend the days working and learning project skills that will help you enormously throughout the session. You will also learn the daily routine of ICC and how to use the gear. Every evening is spent discussing leadership skills, working with youth, dealing with behavioral issues, what to do in an emergency, and managing everything that is required of you during the session.
Regardless of your experience with youth and with conservation work, it is important that you are at the ICC staff training. To drive ICC rigs or to use a chainsaw while working with ICC, you must be certified by ICC (yes, even if you have your CDL or S-212!). This happens during staff training. Most importantly, staff training is a time for you to understand ICC protocol and our expectations for staff. In order for ICC to run consistent and successful programs, it is vital that all staff attend staff training.
Missing all or even part of staff training is not desirable, for you or for ICC. However, even if you won't be able to make the entire staff training, still apply. Each of our programs has a different schedule and we may be able to find one that works with your schedule. We also may be able to work with you to a limited degree. Of course, we prefer staff who are able to commit to the entire staff training, and we may ask that you give up that wedding, or instead offer the position to someone who is available for training.
Q) Do I get paid for staff training?
A) Yes, after completing staff training, you will receive a stipend. ICC also provides travel from the Boise headquarters to the staff training location, provides cooking supplies and tools, and may provide food during the course of the training.
Schedule back to top
Q) How do days off work?
A) From the time you return to headquarters, clean your tools, dismiss your participants for the week, and sit down with your Coordinator and fellow Field Staff to debrief the week to the time your Coordinator tells you to arrive for the next hitch, you are off! Like a nice extended weekend, you are free to go on adventures and explore the great Gem state, we just ask that you make responsible decisions and refrain from fraternizing as stated in your contract. If you desire, you may speak with your Coordinator about staying to help out on a day or two of your off-time to be able to see the inner workings of ICC and help develop your professional resume but we do want you to go out and relax and decompress to be ready for the next hitch!
Q) How long will I be out in the field?
A) Programs run from 11 weeks (SSP) to 22 weeks (ISC) with some variation, as per the schedule on our website. All programs include a 10-day staff training prior to the start of the first session. We try our hardest to keep everyone on the same 9-on, 5-off schedule so that you and your participants have just as much an opportunity to make a strong crew community as you do with the other leaders and they do with other participants; however, with an increasing fire season intensity and other variable factors related to non-profit outdoor work, sometimes this schedule needs to be altered and we ask for your flexibility.
Work back to top
Q) What types of projects do the crews work on?
A) We work on a wide variety of projects, the majority of projects being saw projects, trail maintenance (including drainage structures, brushing, and retaining walls), slash piling, noxious weed removal, and pruning. Other projects include vexar, stream restoration, fencing, bridges, trail structures, OHV trails, campground development, and habitat restoration.
Q) How long is the work week?
A) As you may have noticed, with 9 days on and 5 days off, everything runs in a two-week cycle with your scheduling, so we try to pack in two weeks of work (80 hours) into those 9 working days.
As staff, in addition to the hours on the work project, you will also essentially be working all day, every day while out in the field. Of course, you'll have time to sleep, and if you manage your time well can easily get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Should an emergency come up in the night, you are on call.
Participants back to top
Q) What are “participants”? Why don’t you just call them “employees”?
A) Since our program participants are AmeriCorps participants, they are actually more closely categorized as volunteers rather than employees. They receive a living stipend (instead of a paycheck) and are eligible for an Education Award at the end of their term of service. AmeriCorps participants go through an Orientation on their first day to familiarize themselves with what it means to be an AmeriCorps participant.
Q) How big are the crews?
A) Young Adult crews consist of 3 to 9 participants and one to two staff members. Sometimes a crew will have a “Crew Tech” in place of an official second staff member. We will address this scenario more during Staff Training but suffice to say that this person is essentially an Assistant Crew Leader.
Q) Is ICC a program for troubled youth, a therapy program, or a behavioral modification program?
A) No. While we do accept folks who have involvement with the criminal justice system, we do not recruit specifically for these youth. Furthermore, any youth who has been involved in the criminal justice system must be approved by the office based on the length of time since the incident and the progress they have made since then.
We are also not a therapy program or behavioral modification program. While many youth who come out here have incredible experiences, it is not the job of field staff to counsel or provide therapy for the youth who work for us.
Q) What is the age range of Participants. For that matter, what is the average age of field staff?
A) Our AmeriCorps participants have to be at least 19 years old, with some programs capping at 24 because of Grant restrictions. The age of ICC field staff ranges from 21 up through 30 on average. We have had staff older than 30 out in the field, as well as 20 year olds! We do not hire anyone under the age of 20 for field staff.
Woodsbosses and Program Coordinators back to top
Q) What is a Woodsboss and what do they do?
A) Woodsbosses supervise the staff and the crews. They lead the staff training for their program. During the session, they work with a different crew each day and oversee weekend activities for Youth Programs. They also provide staff support and act as a parent-staff liaison. The Woodsboss position is a seasonal job, and is typically someone who has worked for ICC in the past as a crew leader.
Q) What is a PC?
A) A PC is similar in some ways to a Woodsboss, and in fact is often mistaken for one. PCs are out in the field during the session, supervising staff and crews. They lead the staff training for their program. During the session, they work with a different crew each day and manage some office responsibilities.
The PC position, however, is a year-round job. In addition to all of the work the PC does in the field, he or she spends the off-season at the Boise Headquarters, setting up projects for the summer, contacting project partners, hiring staff, organizing his or her programs, and improving the program during the winter months.
Q) How often is the Woodsboss or PC in the field and in the office?
A) Woodsbosses are in the office less than a PC. Because the PC sets up projects, writes specs, and organizes the program, the PC spends many days in the office getting everything ready for the next week.
Q) How often will I see my Woodsboss or PC?
A) You will spend all of staff training with your Woodsboss and/or PC. During the session, your Woodsboss or PC will spend about one day with each crew during the week. Woodsbosses will have an extra day in the field, and will be able to see more crews. PCs, on the other hand, have to be in the office and won't see every crew every week. Your Woodsboss or PC will spend the day working with you and your crew, and spend some time with you back at camp.