(Please read Backcountry Caretaker position description as well).
The Southern Lead Caretaker is responsible for supervising a crew of 4-5 caretakers and ridgerunners on the Green Mountain National Forest in Southern Vermont.
Duties are divided between trail maintenance, hiker education, developing crew skills, managing crew schedules, tool needs, ongoing projects, and more. Caretakers are NOT rangers; you’ll teach and employ friendly education and stewardship techniques in order to encourage safe, low-impact hiking practices and to protect the trail.
The Southern Lead Caretaker is supervised by the Caretaker Supervisor and the Field Coordinator.
Trail and Site Maintenance:
Lead Caretakers will oversee and teach trail maintenance in their range. This work will include repairing drainage structures, cutting blowdowns, installing puncheon, and repainting signs and blazes. You will also maintain the shelters, privies, and trail structures within your range. Leads will become well-versed in backcountry waste management and provide oversight of the operation of composting outhouses.
Leads will teach and model positive hiker education about low-impact hiking practices and about fragile natural areas which support many rare and endangered species. Leads will promote an approach to education which is catered to each hiker and which relies on the authority of the resource, not the threat of punishment.
The Southern Lead Caretaker works on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail within the Green Mountain National Forest. They will supervise three caretakers (Little Rock Pond, Griffith Lake, Stratton Pond), and one Killington Ridgerunner who maintains ~30 miles of trail and six shelters in the Killington Peak area. Lead Caretakers will generally spend nights at GMC-provided housing in Danby, but will camp overnight at caretaker sites, non-staffed sites, and in the backcountry as necessary.
2023 Position Dates:
May 8 – October 20. Some start/end date flexibility may be discussed.
Schedule: Five days per week, typically including weekends. Camping on-site required four nights per week. Regular weekly schedule assigned at start of season.
Compensation: $735/week, plus housing.
Benefits: Housing provided, Wilderness First Aid class included with training, Retirement (403b) matching, eligible for pro deal gear discounts. Leads may have the opportunity for further trainings such as chainsaw or crosscut certification.
Lead Backcountry Caretaker Responsibilities:
- Along with the Northern Lead Caretaker, Caretaker Supervisor, and Field Coordinator, plan and implement preseason caretaker training.
- Assist with orientation for fall caretakers, including shadowing in the field.
- Deliver follow-up training sessions in the field throughout the season.
Field Work (~4 days/week):
- Teach and oversee routine trail maintenance, including drain clearing, corridor trimming, blowdown removal, brushing in, blazing, sign installation, etc.
- Maintain high standards of work and safety in a range of weather conditions.
- Along with the Caretaker Supervisor, oversee composting operations in Southern Vermont. Help with starting and stirring composting runs as needed.
- Plan and execute weekly group work days, to be used as opportunities to tackle larger projects, develop new skills, and/or relieve a caretaker’s trail work burden.
- Participate in monthly farm work days at the Smokey House Center as a condition of housing onsite.
- Occasionally spend the evening at a caretaker site, either to assist the caretaker there or to cover the site on a busy night when it would otherwise go unstaffed.
- Encourage and model Leave No Trace practices and low impact behaviors on trails and at summits, ponds, camping areas, and backcountry shelters.
- Serve as professional backcountry representative of the GMC, both as knowledge source and as behavioral role model.
- Carry first aid kit and sufficient supplies to travel safely in the backcountry at all times.
- Voluntarily participate in Search and Rescue operations.
Administrative Work (~1 day/week):
- Compile and submit weekly use data from caretakers.
- Coordinate weekly schedules for crew, including group work projects.
- Coordinate communication with and among crew.
- Develop healthy and supportive working relationships with and among crew.
- Coordinate acquisition of supplies with crew and Caretaker Supervisor.
- Maintain inventory of tools and equipment for each caretaker range, coordinating with Caretaker Supervisor for tool repair and replacement.
- Maintain a positive working relationship with partners including the Forest Service and Smokey House Center.
- Write formal End of Season report in October.
- Assist with weekly cleaning of staff housing.
- Other duties and responsibilities as assigned.
Lead Backcountry Caretaker Qualifications:
- Valid driver’s license required
- Strong backpacking and outdoor skills
- Ability to live independently and work in a remote area with little supervision
- Comfort working multiple days outdoors in sometimes adverse weather conditions
- Comfort with basic hand tools (trail maintenance training provided during orientation)
- Knowledge of Leave No Trace principles (training provided during orientation)
- Ability to effectively communicate with individuals and groups
- Environmental and/or outdoor education experience
- Basic knowledge of Long Trail/Appalachian Trail system
- Wilderness First Aid certification (class available free-of-charge during orientation)
- Must be willing to work weekends and holidays, these are the busiest days on trail!
- Physical Requirements:
- Ability to lift and carry up to 50 pounds at a time
- Ability to be on foot for prolonged periods of time, including hiking several miles with a heavy pack
- Ability to perform difficult manual labor and to carry heavy loads as a regular part of the workday
Field Staff hiring will begin in January! Check back, or follow GMC on social media to get notified.
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