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.