The University of Montana (UM) O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West (OCRMW) is partnering with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to implement their Terrestrial Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) strategy. This protocol is targeted at collecting standardized inventory and long-term vegetation and soils data at multiple scales across BLM Districts in the Western U.S.

We are currently recruiting Technicians with experience in botany, ecology, and soil science for data collection in Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming from April/May through August/September (exact dates vary by project).

The Technician will work with a Crew Lead to collect vegetation and soils data in desert, sagebrush- steppe, and grassland ecosystems. Crews of two-three people work eight-day hitches: 10-hours/day, from Tuesday-Tuesday, with a six-day break between hitches. All positions are field-based and require working and camping in isolated regions. We ask seasonal staff to commit to the entire field season, practice safety awareness (including vehicle and COVID-19 safety procedures), and contribute to building a healthy, productive and enjoyable work environment.

Applicants should understand that this is physically demanding work. Crews often work and camp in inclement weather conditions, frequently navigating rough, unpaved roads in 4×4 vehicles, and carrying heavy loads (40 lbs.) by foot over rugged desert and mountainous terrain. Sampling locations are occasionally near a small town, but these towns often have few amenities. Cell phone service is limited in many areas.

UM supplies all necessary monitoring equipment, including vehicles, to carry out the work. We provide some group camping gear (stoves, coolers) but individuals are responsible for their personal camping gear (tents, sleeping bags).

The University of Montana is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and has a strong institutional commitment to the principle of diversity in all areas.

Position Details
  • Position is full-time, 1.0 FTE, temporary (< 4 months).
  • Compensation is based on qualifications and experience, $16-$18 an hour.
  • All positions include a tax-free, $30.50 per diem for each field day ($244/hitch).
  • Benefits include Worker’s Compensation coverage, two paid holidays and accrual of sick leave.
  • This project is managed by Dr. Kay Hajek.

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in botany, soil science, range ecology, natural resources management, or related subject.
  • A minimum of one full season of vegetation or soils field data collection in a professional setting.
  • Coursework and experience in plant taxonomy or systematics OR in soil morphology and soil classification.

Technical Skills

  • Experience using dichotomous botanical keys and field guides, familiarity with the major plant families, and knowledge of western flora preferred.
  • Ability to describe soil horizons, textures and stability and collect soil samples for analysis.
  • Careful attention to detail.
  • Experience following established field protocols to conduct sampling and field data collection.
  • Experience with data entry and management using electronic devices.
  • Experience navigating off-trail and collecting coordinates with hand-held GPS units.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel) and preferably with Collector for ArcGIS and Survey123.
  • Experience driving 4WD trucks, especially on rough and unmaintained roads. Valid driver’s license and clean driving record (DUI or other serious convictions need not apply).
  • CPR and Wilderness First Aid is preferred.

Professional Skills

  • Ability to maintain good working relationships with crew members and managers.
  • Ability to accept guidance and constructive criticism from peers and supervisors; willingness to learn and incorporate suggested changes.
  • Demonstrated ability to resolve interpersonal conflict during stressful situations.
  • Ability to interact with stakeholders and partners in a professional manner.
  • Demonstrated ability to work productively as part of a team to accomplish mutual goals and to work independently as required.
  • Willingness to commit to an entire field season. Physical Requirements
  • Ability to carry 40 pounds in a backpack over rugged mountainous terrain, off-trail, for up to eight (8) miles a day, gaining up to 2000 ft. of elevation per day.
  • Ability to dig soil pits (70 cm deep).
  • Willingness and ability to maintain a positive attitude in field conditions that include exposure to inclement weather, hot or cold weather (20°F–110°F), rugged terrain, mosquitos, poisonous snakes, bears, lightning, wildfire, etc., all while maintaining a strong commitment to team safety required.
  • Willingness to work irregular hours in harsh environments and challenging weather conditions.

These positions are ideal for people who are committed to ongoing learning and development. You will receive paid training on AIM protocols and associated methodology. UM ecologists will also provide additional training on protocols and plant identification for the area in which you will be working, and ongoing field-based support and training from specialists during the field season. You will have the opportunity to interact with seasoned staff scientists from both the BLM and UM throughout training and field work.

  • Employment Eligibility. All New Employees must be eligible and show employment eligibility verification by the first date of employment at UM, as legally required (e.g., Form I-9).
  • Criminal Background Investigation is required prior to Offer of Employment. In accordance with University policy, finalists for this position will be subject to criminal background investigations.

Base locations for crews are as follows:

  • Idaho – Boise, ID; Twin Falls, ID; Missoula, MT
  • Montana – Helena, MT
  • South Dakota – Spearfish, SD
  • Utah – Salt Lake City, UT
  • Wyoming – Lander, WY
About UM and the Ecological Mapping, Monitoring and Analysis group

The University of Montana is flagship, research institution with approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Ecological Mapping, Monitoring and Analysis group (EMMA) is part of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, a regional studies and public education program. EMMA staff are engaged in mapping wetlands across the western US, including Alaska; and in carrying out inventory and monitoring projects for federal state and tribal agencies.

How To Apply

Application review will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Please submit the following application materials via email to Lauren Sinclair, lauren.sinclair@mso.umt.edu. *If possible, please combine all application materials into 1-2 documents (.pdf preferred)

  1. Letter of Interest – addressing the stated required skills for the position
  2. Detailed resume listing education and describing work experience
  3. Names and contact information for three (3) professional references *References not listed on the application materials may be contacted; notice may be provided to the applicant.
  4. Transcripts (Unofficial Transcripts are acceptable)
  5. Answers to Supplemental Questions
    1. What is your preferred Base Location?
    2. Have you applied for any other positions with the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West?

Reasonable accommodations are provided in the hiring process for persons with disabilities. For example, this material is available in alternative format upon request. As an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, we encourage applications from minorities, veterans, and women. Qualified candidates may request veterans’ or disabilities preference in accordance with state law.

ADA/EOE/AA/Veteran’s Preference.