Partner Resources

As an SCA partner, you are critical to the success of our mission to build the next generation of conservation leaders. We are grateful that you’ve chosen to work with SCA and will do everything we can to support you and your intern. Our Partner Handbook is a great source of  information to help you develop, request, and manage a successful internship. Whether you are new to SCA and supervising an intern for the first time, or you’ve been with us for years, we encourage you to review the information included in this handbook before and after your intern arrives. As always, we are here to help you with any issues or concerns that may arise.   Please contact your Conservation Program Coordinator listed on your MySCA portal or as described in the handbook below.

Conservation Internship Partner Handbook

Conservation Internship Partner Handbook

Conservation Program Coordinators

The Conservation Program Coordinator (Coordinator) is your primary point of contact at SCA.  Coordinators are stationed regionally throughout the U.S and are generally available from 8:30 AM to 5PM within their time zone.   See the chart below for your Coordinator contact information:

 

Region

Coordinator

Phone

Email

Northeast

Kerri Weeks

603-504-3255

kweeks@thesca.org

Mid-Atlantic

Sara Murrill

703-524-2441 x 2055

smurrill@thesca.org

Southeast

Nicole Pierson

813-951-5033

npierson@thesca.org

Intermountain

Kari Mueller

208-972-7137

kmueller@thesca.org

CA/NV/HI

Caroline Dunlap

510-832-1966 x 5302

cdunlap@thesca.org

Northwest

Laurie Terry

206-496-1290

lterry@thsca.org

Alaska

Chandre Szafran

907-771-8493

cszafran@thesca.org

Nationwide

Conservation Program Hotline

1-888-SCA-WORK,

press 1 then x1498

 

Welcome to the MySCA Partner Portal

SCA a powerful online management system called the MySCA Portal. MySCA is a simple, intuitive interface that lets you manage your SCA account when, how, and wherever you want. You’ll submit and renew position requests, select candidates, and more with speed and efficiency. MySCA also allows you to manage positions once they are field active and access time logs for easy review and approval.  Contact information for your regional Coordinator is posted on the home page as your first point of contact for questions. To access the MySCA Portal, bookmark this URL: http://thesca.force.com/partners. For new users, click on the New Partner Registration to generate a User ID and password. You will be asked to fill out a profile with your contact and organization information.

There are three main tabs on the MySCA website:  “Manage Positions”, “Placements”, and “Manage Tasks”. Under “Manage Positions” you will find all of your previous, current, and upcoming SCA position requests.  You can request new positions or copy old positions for future requests.  Under “Placements” you can find information about the interns you have selected.  And “Manage Tasks” is where you will approve Activity Logs and submit or approve reimbursement requests.

Requesting a New Position

To request a new position, click on the “Request a Position” button under the “Manage Positions” tab. There are a variety of program types to choose from.  Select the Conservation Internship Request button and complete the form.

If you’ve had previous positions with SCA, you can simply copy the position by clicking the “copy” button next to the old position under the “Manage Positions” tab. The copy function will insert the title of the position, position description, and partner information to the new position, but you will need to edit the position with current data including new start and end dates, number of openings available, logistics such as housing, commuting, and living allowances, and the job hazard assessment.

Every position is assigned a position number (”PO #”) and will remain listed under your “Manage Positions” tab. Once submitted, SCA will review and approve the position and, when time, will post it on our website to begin recruiting candidates. If you want to recruit your own candidate or are looking for a local candidate, make sure to let your Coordinator know.

What you need to know when you request a position

Length of Service

SCA internships are a minimum of 12 weeks and a maximum of 52 weeks. Positions up to 16 weeks are considered “Short Term” and offer a stipend (“living allowance”) of $75 per week ($100 per week in Alaska and Hawaii).  Positions over 16 weeks are considered “Long Term” and offer a stipend of $160 per week. At the partner’s request, the living allowance can be increased up to $280 per week.

Travel Allowance and Vehicle Required

Previously, SCA reimbursed interns for actual expenses incurred while traveling to and from the site.  In 2014 we streamlined our travel policy by establishing a flat travel allowance. Partners now benefit from advance knowledge of travel costs and will no longer have to de-obligate funds if travel runs below projections, or worse, obtain a budget modification should travel go over. 

In addition, members are now fully responsible for arranging for travel to and from the site using the travel allowance they are provided.  This policy provides members with more flexibility in arranging their travel and avoids the hassles of reimbursable expenses. 

Travel allowances are based on analysis of travel costs from previous years and are pegged to three factors – distance traveled, selection dates, and vehicle requirements.

  • The standard travel allowance for travel is now a flat $650.
  • When a vehicle is “required” by a position, the intern will receive a travel allowance of $1,100. Therefore partners should carefully consider whether a vehicle should be required for the position.
  • All interns that are traveling to Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories will receive a travel allowance of $1115.
  • Foreign interns arriving from abroad are subject to the same policy and will receive the same travel stipend as described above.
  • If a position is submitted less than 30 days prior to the start date, an additional $300 in travel allowance will be added to off-set costs of booking last minute travel.

Commuting Allowance

We encourage partners to provide a commuting allowance to members traveling daily over ten miles each way between housing and the work site in their personal vehicle.  Our standard mileage reimbursement rate is $0.19 per mile. Mileage rates can be higher at the request of the partner.  Commuting allowances are paid bi-weekly along with the living allowance.

Duty Travel and Miscellaneous Expenses

If you would like to set-aside funds for duty travel, workshops and conferences, special gear, or other duty-related expenses, please indicate this amount in the position description. If the intern will be using their personal vehicle for duty travel, the agency should plan to reimburse at the agency rate. If the agency hasn’t established a mileage reimbursement rate, the intern will be compensated at $0.19 cents per mile.  Duty-related expenses can be submitted for reimbursement through your MySCA Portal. Call or send an email to your Coordinator regarding any questions on the reimbursement process or fund availability.

Housing

SCA encourages partners to provide on site housing whenever possible.  Please see SCA’s Housing Policy below for information about acceptable forms of housing.  If housing is not available, partners can pay SCA to lease appropriate housing for the members, or partners can provide a housing allowance directly to interns.

Uniforms

SCA has four uniform packages to choose from.  Long term positions will receive extra shirts. All items bear the SCA logo.  Interns enrolled in the AmeriCorps program will also receive certain items with the AmeriCorps logo.  Please note that these packages are not intended to be all the clothing the intern will need during their term of service.  The uniform will be mailed to the site in care of the intern’s supervisor.  Please alert your mailroom to expect this package from SCA.  Advise your intern of any other necessary clothing or gear requirements.

  • Field Work Package: Includes long sleeves for brush and insect protection.  Long term interns also receive a heavy cotton work shirt.
  • Visitor Services Package: Includes polo shirts intended for office-based work.  Long term interns also receive a light, 1/4-zip fleece.
  • Hot Weather Package: Light, wicking shirts, including long-sleeves for sun protection.  Long term interns also receive a nylon work shirt.
  • Cold Weather Package: Polypropylene (no cotton) shirts for layering. Long term interns also receive a full-zip fleece.

AmeriCorps Eligibility

Most internships that meet the mission of SCA to “build the next generation of conservation leaders” meet AmeriCorps eligibility requirements.  Specifically, AmeriCorps eligible positions will provide:

  • critical service on public lands;
  • improved protection of natural and cultural resources;
  • educate visitors to minimize impact; or
  • training and practical experience to become the next generation of conservation leaders.

To be AmeriCorps eligible, the position may NOT:

  • duplicate an activity that is already available in the locality of a program;
  • displace an employee or position, including partial displacement such as reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits; or
  • displace a volunteer.

The most common reason that a position is ineligible is due to the position requirement to handle money, typically in a park bookstore.  Please carefully review the list of prohibited activities in the AmeriCorps section.

To properly document the eligibility of a position, please include a description of the context of the work and the critical need the position will meet.  The position must offer opportunities for educational development, list the approximate percentage of time the member will spend on each work activity, avoid prohibited activities, and presents the position as a complete project.

Education and Skills

SCA recently revised the list of possible education and skills that partners can select.  The current list is based on over 50 years of experience and represents the most effective categories for maximizing targeted recruitments.

Permissible and Prohibited Activities

Interns may engage in any activity that an employee may carry out except:

  • SCA interns may not carry out direct law enforcement functions.
  • SCA interns may not engage in firefighting activities unless they are hired to do so.  They may be given fire training as interns.  See the Wildland Fire Duty section below.

You may temporarily hire an intern for the purpose of firefighting or other duties.  See the Wildland Fire Duty section below Interns may assist in other types of activities, such as search and rescue, operating four-wheel drive vehicles, or using machinery and tools, provided they have received the training normally given to regular or seasonal personnel.  Interns should also be issued protective clothing and gear for any activity that requires the use of such items by regular employees.

Interns who will interact with the public should be given information about your site and the surrounding area.  If it is not possible to include them in your regular, seasonal training, please provide other means of acquiring this information.

Selecting an Intern

Candidates Sent Through MySCA

SCA will begin to send applicants two to three months prior to the start of the position or sooner upon request. Applicants will be reviewed to determine if the skills and education meet the requirements you listed in the position request. The most qualified applicants will be sent to your MySCA account for review. You will receive an email notification each time new candidates have been added to your queue. Candidates are also notified when they are sent to you for consideration.

If you find that you don’t have enough candidates to review, or the candidates do not have adequate qualifications, please contact your Coordinator. Your Coordinator can assist you by sending additional candidates and/or refining the skills and/or education parameters to target the candidates that best match your needs.

To view the applications, login to your MySCA Portal and click on the “Manage Positions” tab. Click on the PO # hyperlink to open the position and scroll down to the “Candidates” section to view the applications.  Once in the Candidate section, you will see an action column with “Offer”, “Delete”, and “Interview” links next to each candidate (described below). Click on the application hyperlink to view the candidate’s application.

Pre-Selected Candidate

Sometimes agencies want to recruit local candidates themselves or have a pre-selected candidate they would like to offer the position. SCA can admit a pre-selected candidate into your internship as long as the intern completes the SCA application online. Send the name, email, and phone number of the candidate to your Coordinator so SCA can guide them through the application process.

Interviewing an Applicant

To view a candidate’s contact information, click “Interview” to reveal the candidate’s telephone and email information. Candidates are NOT notified of your decision to interview them. 

We strongly recommend that you review applications within a week from the time you receive them. Applications are often sent to more than one partner for review. SCA recommends that you review, contact, and interview your applicants as soon as you receive them to increase the likelihood that you will get your first candidate choice.

We advise applicants to view your call as an employment interview. During this conversation, be sure to cover the following points:

  • Clarify the details of the proposed work assignment including specific job duties. Be sure to mention any changes in the job description that may have occurred since its publication.
  • Discuss the dates of the project and your degree of flexibility with start and end dates.
  • Advise candidates of living and working conditions.
  • Discuss vehicle requirements.
  • Discuss any special clothing or gear requirements.

To remove a candidate from consideration, click “Delete”. Deleting a candidate does not delete them from our system; it simply pulls them from your candidate queue and indicates that you no longer wish to consider the candidate. They do not receive an email notification of your decision.

Making an Offer

Once you have received verbal or email confirmation that a candidate accepts the position, click “Offer” in your MySCA Portal to initiate the official offer. After you click “Offer”, you will be directed to an offer page where you have the opportunity to modify the start and end dates of the position and leave notes regarding any other logistical details (such as a non-standard allowance or special uniform requests) that may vary from the initial position request.

Once you submit an offer, your Coordinator will review the offer, assign an AmeriCorps Education Award, if applicable, and send the electronic offer to the applicant. The offer is sent to the candidate via their MySCA Portal and they receive an email notification that an offer is pending their review.  The candidate will need to login through the MySCA Portal to accept or decline the position within five business days.

Please do not offer a position to an applicant who has already agreed to serve at a different site.

Accepting an Offer

Upon accepting the position, the member will be asked to provide a current mailing address where they can receive a Chase card (see Finance section below).  The card will be loaded with the member’s Travel Allowance on the first payday following acceptance of the position to ensure that they have the funds to arrange travel.

Occasionally, an applicant accepts a position but later declines the offer. If an intern declines after accepting your position, please call your Coordinator immediately to assist you in finding a replacement. Do not assume that the applicant has notified SCA.

Once the applicant accepts the position, SCA will email the intern with directions on how to complete additional enrollment paperwork such as a written confirmation of acceptance (COA), medical information with emergency numbers, and a liability release from the selected intern. 

The intern will also be directed to the SCA Internship Handbook, which contains all the information the intern will need to get the most from their internship.

Selections Less Than Two Weeks from Start Date

Enrollment paperwork for the intern normally takes a couple of weeks to process. In cases where positions are filled less than two weeks from the start date, your Coordinator will work with the intern to complete the enrollment paperwork as quickly as possible. However, in some cases, the start date may need to be adjusted.  

Financial Agreement Process

To comply with the agreements governing our partnerships with federal agencies, federal partners must ensure that the requisite funds have been obligated and the funding document received before an intern may start work.  Please include the position identification number (PO#) assigned by SCA on all agreement paperwork.  The position number will allow us to clearly identify which position(s) the agreement is funding. If you are using an agreement from a prior year to fund a current position or are obligating “no year funds” at the end of the fiscal year, please notify your Coordinator. 

Funding instruments by agency are as follows:

Agency

Master Agreement #

Agreement Date

Status

US Geological Survey (USGS)

none

 

Being developed

US Forest Service (USFS)

09-PA-11132424-015

9/30/2014

By extension

National Park Service (NPS)

P09AC00402

7/6/2014

 

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

 

 

 

Arizona: Youth (Low Income)

L11AC20290

9/30/2014

 

Arizona: Interns

L11AC20172

6/30/2016

 

Alaska: Interns

L10AC20549

9/19/2015

 

Alaska: Crews

L13AC00037

9/30/2017

 

California

L13AC00134

7/31/2018

 

Colorado

1422 CAA080085

9/30/2013

Expired

Idaho

L11AC20031

9/30/2015

 

New Mexico

L10AC20506

9/30/2015

 

Nevada

L12AC20361

4/8/2017

 

Oregon

L13AC00056

4/6/2018

 

Utah

JSA081011

6/2/2013

 

Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

expired

 

In process

National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS 68-3A75-10-80

6/28/2015

 

Army, Army Corps of Engineers, Air Force, Marine Corps Base Quantico

expired

 

In process

Navy and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene

N44255-08-2-001

 2/20/2018

 

 

SCA AmeriCorps and the Education Award

Overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service (Corporation), AmeriCorps is a network of organizations that offer opportunities for people to dedicate themselves to a long-term service project such as tutoring and mentoring youth, building affordable housing, cleaning parks and streams, and recruiting, training, and managing community volunteers. In return, AmeriCorps members receive funds they can use for education.

SCA receives a grant from the Corporation to administer an AmeriCorps Education Award program for our members. Under this grant, interns that complete service satisfactorily can receive an AmeriCorps Education Award of $1,175-$5,550, which can be applied to education-related expenses.  Please note that the SCA AmeriCorps program is a grant program contingent upon federal funding. SCA receives a set number of allotments in the AmeriCorps program each year.  Once those allotments have been used, no further awards will be available for the year.

Overview

  1. The partner submits a position request that meets AmeriCorps criteria.
  2. If allotments are available, the intern will have an opportunity to apply to become an SCA AmeriCorps member.
  3. Both the intern and the partner will have paperwork and training requirements to complete before, during, and after the position.
  4. Upon successful completion of the position and related requirements, the intern receives the education award.

Education Awards

The AmeriCorps Education Award is a sum of money members can receive after successfully completing their service. Members are able to use this award to pay for expenses at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans. Upon selection to a position, members are offered an award relative to their length of service. Members who choose to enroll in AmeriCorps sign an agreement confirming that they will complete both their term of service and their minimum number of hours. SCA AmeriCorps terms of service and corresponding awards are as follows:

  • $1,175 - 300 minimum service hours for positions 8-11 weeks
  • $1,468 - 450 minimum service hours for positions 12-23 weeks
  • $2,775 - 900 minimum service hours for positions 24-44 weeks
  • $5,550 - 1700 minimum service hours for positions 45-52 weeks

Partner Responsibilities Under AmeriCorps

While members are responsible for meeting most of the AmeriCorps requirements, there are a few expectations for partners who choose to participate in this program. Our relationship with AmeriCorps and the Corporation is an important aspect of our Conservation Internship Program and we appreciate your support in meeting the compliance and evaluation requirements.  As a partner in the SCA AmeriCorps program, please make sure you are willing to:

  • Set up your position’s duties and activities to be AmeriCorps-eligible. As a federal program AmeriCorps has specific requirements and prohibited activities. If your position meets these requirements it will be “AmeriCorps-eligible”.
  • Complete the SCA AmeriCorps Site Agreement once per year. This requirement under our federal AmeriCorps grant outlines the expectations for partners. Download it at this link.
  • Participate in the SCA AmeriCorps webinar training once per year. This training is conducted regularly via a pre-recorded webinar available online at your convenience.
  • Approve your member’s submitted time logs. Approve your member’s time logs — both Activity Logs and Output Logs — in your MySCA Partner Portal on a regular basis. For more information, visit the Time Logs section of this manual.
  • Verify that member service hours do not include prohibited activities. Members are not allowed to be involved with AmeriCorps prohibited activities. See below for a complete list of prohibited activities. Members may participate in these activities as private citizens on non-SCA/AmeriCorps time and should not identify themselves with the SCA AmeriCorps program.
  • Complete Mid-term and End-of-Term Evaluations. All SCA members need completed Mid-term and End-of-Term Evaluations on file. This requirement is especially important for AmeriCorps members as it determines SCA’s future eligibility for AmeriCorps grants nationwide.
  • Support members to complete their service commitment and minimum hours. Except in compelling personal circumstances (outlined below), members who leave the program early forfeit their education award. Leaving positions early for paid work is not considered an acceptable reason for a member to leave early. Please encourage members to complete their service commitment.
  • Support members who want to attend national service events locally. There may be AmeriCorps-sponsored events periodically in your state or region. Members are encouraged to attend if their schedule allows. These hours can be recorded on their AmeriCorps timesheets under “Training/Education”.

AmeriCorps Health Insurance

AmeriCorps members serving longer than 17 weeks are offered health insurance by SCA in accordance with AmeriCorps policy.  At this time, the required insurance does not meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA) and members that accept this coverage are advised that they could be subject to a financial penalty under AHA.  AmeriCorps has requested an AHA exemption for its members, but that request has not yet been approved.

Previously, SCA offered non-AmeriCorps members the same health insurance benefits.  However, due to lack of compliance with AHA, this coverage is no longer available to non-AmeriCorps members.  Please check with your Coordinator regarding the current status of this health insurance provision.

AmeriCorps Grievance Procedure

SCA has both informal and formal grievance procedures for SCA AmeriCorps members and external individuals who bring grievances to the SCA AmeriCorps program. The full grievance procedure can be downloaded here or on our website at http://jointhesca.org/group/americorps/page/partner-orientation-webinar-….

AmeriCorps Prohibited Activities

SCA is committed to ensuring that all partners and members are knowledgeable of the activities prohibited by AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps prohibited activities include: partisan political activities, political advocacy, protests, petitions, strikes, union activities, religious proselytization, for-profit business, abortion services, and general fundraising. The complete list of AmeriCorps prohibited activities can be downloaded here or on our website.  Please contact your Coordinator for questions about the SCA AmeriCorps program. The following contacts are also available for additional support related to AmeriCorps:

  • AmeriCorps Manager at SCA: Kate Hagner (603) 543-1700 x1133
  • AmeriCorps Coordinator at SCA: Sofia Angelo (603) 543-1700 x1367

Kate or Sofia can also be reached at AmeriCorps@theSCA.org.

 

Intern Preparation and Arrival

Congratulations on your candidate selection! Once you have spoken with the candidate and confirmed their selection to the position, please send them a written confirmation of what you’ve discussed. Keep in mind, the offer has to be sent through your MySCA Portal for SCA to make an official offer and enroll the intern. 

Things to Consider

Please consider the following questions prior to the arrival of your intern(s):

  • How is the intern getting to your site: driving, flying, bus? Suggest a recommended means of transportation or the closest airport or bus station.
  • How is housing being handled? See the SCA housing policy below if housing is not being provided onsite.
  • Does SCA have the correct start and end dates for the internship?  Always notify your Coordinator when there is a change to the start or end dates.
  • Is your agreement (Task Agreement, Supplemental Project Agreement, Purchase Order, Assistance Award) being processed? An intern cannot start until SCA has a signed agreement in place.
  • Does SCA have the correct mailing address for sending the uniform?

General Information

The following additional information will help the intern be prepared for working and living at your site.

  • A specific and complete description of job duties; be sure to note any changes from the original position description.
  • A description of the housing facilities, including location (proximity to your site), and whether cooking utensils and household items are included (see the Intern Housing Policy section).
  • Personal equipment and clothing needed both on- and off-duty.
  • Information on the proximity of stores and laundry facilities is helpful. What is the distance to stores and how often will the intern be able to shop? Should the intern bring a small supply of food to get started until he or she can get to a store? What items are best brought from home due to high prices in the area?
  • Suggest recommended means of transportation to the area. What is the most convenient airport? Is a personal vehicle required? Is there public transportation in the area?
  • Include the name of the person who will meet the intern upon arrival. If no one will be meeting him or her, where and to whom should the intern report? Exchange contact information in case the intern needs to contact you with any changes in plans.
  • Include general information about your area, especially the location where the intern will be working and living. Be sure to include information pertaining to climate and terrain, if this will affect clothing or equipment needs. Indicate details of any dress or appearance standards.
  • Is an ATM available at or near the site? Let the intern know if traveler’s checks or cash are necessary. SCA gives each intern a Chase card and “loads” the card biweekly with the intern’s allowance(s). The card may be used at ATMs and any store that accepts credit/debit cards.
  • Date changes must be communicated to your Coordinator to ensure that the intern receives their allowance(s) at the appropriate time, that AmeriCorps award dates are correct, and that the internship is compliant with dates specified on the agreement.
  • While it’s rare, an intern can withdraw from a position prior to the start date, so we encourage you to remain in contact with your intern and be available to answer any questions prior to arrival.

Background Checks

SCA’s Background Check

All selected interns are subject to a criminal background check, which must be completed before the intern begins their service. The check may take two or more weeks, so please plan accordingly as it can impact when your intern starts their position. The check is in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. All information pertaining to the check will be kept confidential and shared only with SCA program supervisory staff in the event of an unfavorable record.  It is a good idea to make the applicant aware of the background check requirement during the hiring interview. A history of crimes against youth or other vulnerable populations, violent crimes, or crimes of moral turpitude may disqualify the applicant for an internship. An email will be sent to the intern directly from customer service at Easy Background Checks once SCA is notified of their selection. Please note: SCA’s background check is separate from, and may not qualify for, background checks or security clearance as required by your agency. 

Federal Background Investigations (HSPD-12)

Those interns participating in the AmeriCorps Education Award program also must pass an FBI background check.  To complete this process, we partner with FieldPrint, an authorized FBI Livescan vendor, with a network of Livescan sites located around the country.  Interns need to fill out information on line via the FieldPrint website, schedule an appointment at a local Livescan location, and pay the $50 processing fee.  Fingerprints will be automatically sent directly to the FBI where they will be compared against the national criminal records database.  The intern must then share the results of the check with SCA in order to be enrolled in the AmeriCorps program.  This process is separate from any background check required by your agency.

Supervising an Intern

Chase Cards

Although this is a volunteer program, at a minimum, interns receive a living allowance for basic expenses and a travel allowance to assist in traveling to and from the site. SCA uses Chase JP Morgan E-funds cards to disburse intern allowances and reimbursements. Chase cards are sent out as soon as possible following the intern’s acceptance of a position. The travel allowance is provided on the first pay date following selection to a position.  Living and commuting allowances are paid on a bi-weekly basis following the position’s start date. If the intern is an AmeriCorps member, allowances will be taxed. 

The card will be mailed to your intern before the internship begins so they can book their travel. The intern will receive detailed instructions, including how to activate and use the card, card security, and replacing a lost card. Interns can use the card as either a credit or debit card to pay for purchases and to get cash back at most stores. Interns can check their card balance any time by phone or on-line. To activate a new card, an intern should call 1-866-222-5704 or visit the Chase website at www.myaccount.chase.com and follow the directions.

Time Logs

Members submit both Activity Logs, which record their completed service hours, as well as Output Logs, which record the kinds and amounts of work they are accomplishing.  Members are expected to complete their Activity Logs on a weekly basis, unless they have limited computer access. Output Logs are completed as projects are completed.  When working in groups, only one intern is required to submit an Output Log on behalf of the whole group.

We expect interns to perform their duties to the same standard as regular or seasonal personnel. Interns are expected to work the equivalent of a 40-hour week.  You may require interns to work on weekends and holidays, but you should arrange compensatory time off.  The hours recorded on a member’s Activity Log should be hours spent in active training or education, or actual direct service hours. Partners may approve time off for members, when appropriate, but hours on time sheets should reflect actual hours served.

Activity Logs are approved or denied electronically through your MySCA Portal.  When the intern submits the log, you will receive an email that the log is ready for your review. If you are not able to view the logs, have questions, or need to change the name of a supervisor, contact your Coordinator.

Sick and Vacation Time

Sick time should be handled the same as it is for regular or seasonal personnel. If an intern has a long term illness that is affecting his/her ability to work, contact your Coordinator to discuss options. Vacation time should be arranged and agreed upon between you and the intern. Ten days is recognized as the standard time off for a year of service.

Learning and Education

We encourage you to offer the same variety of tasks, responsibilities, and learning opportunities available to other personnel.  Similarly, interns should receive periodic supervision, guidance, and evaluation from their supervisors.  We expect the internship to be an educational one that leads to a better understanding of how your agency manages land and resources and serves the public, as well as one that provides the intern with new skills.

Intern Evaluations

Intern supervisors are asked to complete Mid-term and End-of-Term Evaluations for all interns. The evaluations are completed in an electronic format via an online survey. They will be emailed to you at the appropriate times.

Changes to Dates of Service

If the dates of the internship change for any reason, contact your Coordinator immediately.  It’s important for SCA to have this information as soon as possible so that we can adjust payroll and other paperwork and ensure the position is within the terms of the agreement. Date changes can also affect the AmeriCorps award.

Withdrawals and Early Exits

In the event an intern does not arrive at the agreed upon time, declines a position after accepting it, or leaves his/her position early, please notify your Coordinator immediately. If you wish, we will attempt to replace the intern if he or she leaves before the position is completed. An intern who leaves voluntarily, is terminated, or is hired at your site, may forfeit their AmeriCorps award. They may also be required to refund any allowance received for weeks not worked. Interns leaving due to illness or family emergency may be eligible for a pro-rated AmeriCorps award.  See the AmeriCorps section below. If you select a second intern to replace a member who left during the first two weeks of a position, you will not be billed for costs associated with the placement of the first intern. (This rule does not apply when you hire an intern at your site.) If you do not replace the original intern, you will be billed for the actual funds paid to the intern, including travel and living allowances that were not returned to SCA by the intern.

Terminations

Occasionally there may be situations where an intern is not meeting expectations or is violating agency rules of conduct.  SCA encourages you and the intern to engage your Coordinator as early as possible to express concerns and discuss possible resolutions. In the event that termination is the only option, SCA expects to be engaged prior to the dismissal of the intern.  SCA does a review of all terminations to determine whether the individual will be eligible to apply to SCA programming in the future. Your concerns regarding the intern will be considered in this review.

Safety

The safety of our interns is of utmost importance to the SCA.  While SCA maintains a remarkable safety record, we do not assume it can remain so without exceptional diligence and a high level of commitment from you as the intern’s supervisor.

SCA is proud of our safety record and risk management program.  Based on over 50 years of experience, SCA has developed standards and guidelines that promote a strong safety culture.  SCA continually evaluates safety through hazard assessments and incident analysis, and integrates the lessons learned into our protocols, procedures, and training.   In addition to being time and event-tested, SCA’s risk management protocols and procedures are thoroughly reviewed (and revised, as necessary) annually by SCA’s Risk Management Team.

Emergency Communication with SCA

We rely on you to communicate with us in the event of an emergency, disciplinary action, or any other situation that impacts the physical or emotional safety of the intern.  SCA has a wealth of experience and resources available to you in managing challenging situations.  We expect to work with you in managing any major accidents, illnesses, injuries, events involving law enforcement, or interactions with the media.  If you are considering disciplining or dismissing someone, we need to be informed early in the process.

In the event of a medical emergency or other serious incident, 24-hour assistance is available at SCA’s Emergency Hotline: 1-800-YO-SOGGY (800-967-6449). This line has been set-up to support our members, staff, and partners. During business hours, this line rings directly in to SCA Headquarters at Charlestown, NH. Outside of regular business hours, including weekends and holidays, this number will connect you with an on-call staff member. This line should be used for urgent communications only.

Non-Emergency Communication with SCA

For general notification of minor incidents, please call your Coordinator, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  If you are unable to reach your Coordinator, the Intern Hotline is available at 888-SCA-WORK, press 1 and then x1498.  A few examples of minor incidents include: an embedded tick, early departure of an intern, unprofessional conduct, or a non-injury vehicle incident.  Any information provided on the health and well-being of our interns is appreciated.

Worker’s Compensation Coverage and Claims

Your agreement with SCA describes who is responsible for providing Worker’s Compensation coverage to interns. Since the partner makes decisions about how to minimize risk, determines the conditions under which interns perform their service, and provides training and supervision, it is best for the agency to offer the coverage. Doing so will improve the overall experience for the intern as well as provide maximum protection for all parties. However, we recognize that this coverage imposes a financial burden and if your organization is unable to provide it, SCA can do so for $50 per month.

For work related injuries or accidents, where SCA is providing the Worker’s Compensation coverage, SCA must be notified with 48 hours of the incident in order to file a claim. Follow the instructions under Emergency Communications to SCA to report an incident.

SCA will send an insurance form to you or the intern after the incident is reported. Accidents that occur while the intern is on-duty are covered by Worker’s Compensation. If the partner is providing coverage, follow the agency procedures to process a claim.  If you have questions about Worker’s Compensation coverage, contact your Coordinator.

Job Hazards

There is inherent risk in what we all do, but if we anticipate and prepare to manage this risk, we can prevent many incidents.  We rely on your experience and expertise to evaluate and communicate risk at the worksite and in the local environment.  SCA will work with you to complete formal job hazard assessments for each position.  This analysis will assure we are educating each other regarding potential risks as well as necessary preparation and training.

Training and Supervision

As an intern’s supervisor, you have the opportunity to prioritize a culture of safety through the training and supervision you provide. In our experience, training and supervision are key to a successful internship experience.  Most activities (traveling, working, hiking, swimming, etc.) have some inherent risk.  Before the intern arrives, please assess the intern’s duties and activities for risk management concerns.  Incorporate your expectations for managing these risks into your training plan. 

Interns should receive the training they need to complete their assignments while managing risk appropriately. Any training should meet your agency’s highest standard. 

Attention should be given to interns utilizing mechanized equipment.  The risk potential significantly increases when using equipment such as brush saws, chainsaws, chippers, and power tools.

When it comes to assessing hazards and ensuring safety, interns should be instructed to make the conservative decision at all times, especially when operating mechanized equipment

Emergency Response Plan

SCA encourages partners to review the site’s Emergency Response Plan with intern(s), particularly in regard to weather emergencies. Below is a link to the SCA Internship Handbook that provides a comprehensive overview of SCA’s emergency procedures. SCA recommends that interns complete an Emergency Action Plan (located in the appendix) upon arrival at the site and to keep copies of the plan in several locations for easy reference.  http://jointhesca.org/group/conservation-interns/page/intern-handbook

Vehicles

Vehicle incidents represent the highest opportunity for personal, property, and organizational loss to both SCA and our partners.  Not surprisingly, vehicle-related accidents are one of the most common types of incidents in SCA’s internship program, on or off work hours.  Interns who are driving a motorized vehicle as part of their internship should receive the same or similar training as would full-time employees.  Specific recommended topics include the use of seat belts, following speed limits, as well as responding to local road and weather conditions.  

Make no assumptions about an intern’s abilities or vehicle experience.  Most of us drive small vehicles and are not experienced in handling 15 passenger vans, large pickups, four-wheel drive vehicles, or trailers.  For those interns operating vehicles off paved roads, special training may also be required.  Consider whether your intern needs special training for any of the following road conditions: dirt, gravel, sand, mud, stream crossings, soft shoulders, or narrow or steep roads.  Be sure to train interns on other hazards specific to your area, including wildlife or unusual weather conditions.

Off-Duty Safety

We have found that many incidents occur while interns are exploring the area during their free time.  While we understand they are responsible for themselves during their off-time, we encourage you to educate your intern(s) about the hazards of your area and recommend mitigation strategies.  Encourage the “safety culture” to exist not only at work but during their entire SCA internship.

Policies

Intern Housing Policy

This policy establishes roles and responsibilities for partners and interns related to securing and paying for intern housing.  It attempts to address common logistical, financial, and procedural concerns.

The safety and well-being of its members is of utmost importance to SCA.  When housing is not available on site, it is the sole responsibility of the partner to secure nearby, off-site housing prior to the member’s arrival.  It is advised that the partner inspect housing for cleanliness and safety before approving it for use.  SCA will bill the partner for actual housing costs (including utilities, parking, etc.).

All housing should be at least minimally furnished with a bed, table and chair(s).  The member should be told in advance about any other items they are required to bring, such as cooking and eating utensils. Tents and bunk houses are considered acceptable forms of housing. Members must have access to showers, toilets, and a telephone or two-way radio for emergencies. Housing must be clean, in good repair, heated in cold weather, and members must be able to prepare their own food.  Partners are advised to tell members what type of housing is available during their initial interview.   

Housing should be located as close to the work site as feasible. SCA expects that members using a personal vehicle or public transportation to commute more than ten miles one way from their housing to the work site will be reimbursed for that expense. See the Commuting Allowance section above.

Members should not be expected to share sleeping quarters with other members or staff of the opposite gender.

In instances where a lease is required, SCA will be named the lease holder and will issue rental payments directly to the landlord. The SCA Housing Coordinator will set-up and terminate any/all utilities associated with the lease.  In the absence of a lease, rental payments will be made directly to the member in the form of a housing allowance. Directing payments to the member does not diminish the responsibility of the partner to locate and secure housing. If payments are made directly to the member, they must include utilities and other costs associated with the housing.  In this case, the member will be responsible for shutting off utilities at the end of their term of service.   

In circumstances where a claim of damage is made by a landlord, the partner may be asked to inspect the damage and confirm the claim. If damage is confirmed to be caused by the member, it will be the responsibility of the member to make reparation.

Exceptions to this policy will only be made where mitigating circumstances exist as determined by SCA.

Wildland Fire Duty

Wildland firefighting provides interns a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience in the field of conservation and preservation. Occasionally, partners have an urgent need for fire fighters and request that interns be allowed to assist.

It is the policy of SCA to allow members to suspend their internship for a maximum of 14 days, inclusive of travel, for the purpose of fighting wildland fires.  Per SCA Field Operations Standards, interns may not be involved in wildland firefighting activities as  a member of SCA.  However, they may engage in wildland firefighting activities as a member or employee of another agency.  To fight wildland fires the intern must be approved to take leave from their term of service. This approval must come from the partner and your Coordinator must be notified prior to suspension of the internship. Once on leave from their term of service, the member will no longer be covered by SCA’s liability or Worker’s Compensation insurance policies. In addition, the partner must continue to cover the cost of some of the intern’s benefits, including housing, health insurance, and related administrative fees.

Interns enrolled in AmeriCorps cannot accrue service hours for time spent in paid wildland firefighting activities.

Pet Policy

To avoid potential health risks and damage to property, it is the policy of SCA that pets are not to be kept in SCA-leased housing.  When housing is provided by the partner, or if housing is not leased by SCA, the intern must obtain written permission from the partner and/or landlord.  SCA will not be responsible for any pet-related damages.

Alcohol Policy

SCA understands that adults of legal drinking age may choose to consume alcohol after work hours and off program time during their term of service with SCA.  Instead of prohibiting this activity, SCA strives to foster a culture of personal and professional responsibility where the consumption of alcohol by legal adults may be done in a responsible manner.  With this in mind, alcohol consumption while an SCA member is a privilege and not a right.  If the consumption of alcohol becomes a management or safety issue, SCA may revoke this privilege. In addition, members are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations regarding alcohol use where they are housed.

Drug-Free Workplace

As part of SCA’s ongoing commitment to a safe and healthy workplace, as well as to comply with many of our agreements, we maintain a drug-free workplace policy. Any member who reports to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol runs the risk of endangering his or her safety and the safety of others, destruction of or damage to personal or organization property, and a loss of productivity and workplace morale.

All staff and volunteers of SCA are required to understand and comply with the organization’s drug-free workplace policy. Any failure to comply with the guidelines of this policy can result in immediate termination of employment. Staff members and volunteers either in our offices or conducting business on behalf of our organization, regardless of location, are prohibited from all of the following:

  • Unauthorized use, possession, purchase, sale, manufacture, distribution, transportation, or dispensation of any controlled substance.
  • Reporting to work while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Controlled substances include, but are not limited to, narcotics (such as heroin and morphine), cannabis (marijuana, hashish), stimulants (such as cocaine and amphetamines), and depressants (tranquilizers) except by doctor’s prescription, and hallucinogens (such as PCP, LSD, and “designer drugs”).
  • Use, possession, purchase, sale, manufacture, distribution, transportation, or dispensation of any legal prescription drug in an illegal manner.
  • Reporting to work while impaired by the use of a legal drug whenever such impairment might substantially interfere with job performance, pose a threat to the staff member’s safety or the safety of others, or risk significant damage to organization property.
  • If you are arrested or convicted of a criminal drug statute violation, you must notify your manager and/or Human Resources within five (5) days of the event.

Members who violate the drug-free workplace policy may, at the discretion of SCA, be required to attend a rehabilitation or drug abuse assistance program as an alternative to disciplinary action, including discharge. Members given this opportunity must satisfactorily participate in the program as a condition of continued service.

Discrimination & Sexual Harassment Advisory

The following has been given to Conservation Interns:

We are confident that in your upcoming term of service, you will meet resource management and conservation professionals of the highest personal and professional integrity.  Some of these people will inspire you, serve as mentors, and have a lasting effect on the rest of your life.  You will come to value and treasure your opportunity to work side by side with these experienced professionals.

Even in a workplace as professional as those of our cooperating agencies, discrimination can occur. It is the policy of all of our partner agencies to maintain a workplace environment free from any type of discriminatory conduct, including making statements or jokes, or committing acts regarding a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, gender, physical condition, age, marital status or sexual orientation that are offensive, derogatory, or harassing.  Nonetheless, over the years, a small number of our volunteers have reported that they were victims of violations of this policy.  Therefore, we feel that it is our responsibility to advise you that there is a possibility, however remote, that you could be confronted with discriminatory behavior.

Most of us immediately recognize the more overt forms of discrimination.  There is one kind of discrimination that sometimes takes subtle and insidious forms, namely, sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment is not merely defined as sexual advances and/or requests for sexual favors that are unwelcome.  It is also verbal comments, gestures and/or physical contact which is deliberate, repeated, unwanted and unsolicited.

Sexual harassment can sometimes be so subtle that it is not readily recognized at first.  It may take the form of unwelcome verbal comments, jokes, suggestions or derogatory remarks based on sex; unwelcome physical touching, pats, squeezes, repeated brushing against or the impeding or blocking of one’s movement; unwelcome visual harassment, sexually suggestive or derogatory pictures, drawings or cartoons; unwelcome communications, notes, phone calls or e-mail.  This may include words or actions that the initiator intends to be “harmless”, benign or playful, but which may not be so perceived by the recipient or an onlooker.

From your perspective, you should take seriously and not tolerate any conduct that makes you feel uncomfortable, degraded or intimidated.  Also, do not ignore offensive behavior because it occurs outside of work hours.  Inform the initiator that his/her words and/or actions are unwelcome and state that they should not be repeated and will not be tolerated.  If the behavior continues, or if you do not feel safe or comfortable confronting the individual directly, please report the situation immediately to your supervisor or, if this is not appropriate, to any other management representative of your choice.

Many of our hosting sites have Personnel Directors or Equal Employment Opportunity Representatives who are trained to deal constructively and professionally with incidences of harassment.  We urge you to consider contacting these officials.  They will make sure that your concerns are dealt with in confidence to the extent consistent with a full and fair investigation.  Oftentimes, they are experienced enough to resolve the difficulties you may be experiencing through informal discussions.  However, they will also know when more formal measures are called for which they will advise you of, but will not take without permission (with the rare exception of serious assault).

These measures could involve conducting a thorough investigation of your allegations, interviewing others who may have witnessed the behavior which has caused you discomfort, identifying any areas of factual dispute, and eventually reaching a conclusion as to whether the alleged conduct constituted a violation of agency policy or federal or state law.  If this is indeed the case, they will know the next steps to take to invoke remedial action or sanction.  They also will ensure that there will be no retaliation of any kind as a result of your utilization of their complaint procedures.  No action will be taken against any individual who makes a good faith complaint or against any individual participating in the investigation or enforcement of this policy.  However, any individual who knowingly makes a false claim of sexual harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

We all have a responsibility for maintaining high standards of conduct in the workplace.  Sexual harassment has no place in it and should never be condoned.  Most importantly, for your own well-being, we urge you to not tolerate it and to take the steps outlined above, if necessary.  Please remember that our agency partners will not be able to take remedial action to correct problems or individuals if they do not know that inappropriate behavior is occurring.  Think of the next person who will be in the position you are in and allow our agencies to send out the message that sexual harassment is simply unacceptable.

Press Releases and Photographs

SCA encourages interns to tell us about the work they are doing by sending photos or writing a press release. A template is provided in the Internship Handbook to help interns write about their experience and provide it to newspapers in their hometown and the town closest to where they are working. 

Photographs of interns at work help raise awareness of SCA programs and recruit top-quality interns. We appreciate any assistance you can provide in this regard. Color photographs are ideal for displays, brochures, reports, and newsletters. Photos should capture interns on the job; ideally with their SCA patch visible. Please include a brief description of the activity depicted and a note permitting SCA to use your photos in its publications or displays. Be sure to mark your name or other appropriate credit on each photograph or slide, and specify whether it should be returned after copying. Emailing photos to SCA is the simplest approach, if you have the capability.