Hiring: Roan Seasonal Naturalist

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is hiring a Seasonal Roan Naturalist for summer 2018. The position begins approximately May 14th and ends August 17, 2018 (possibility of limited extension)

The Roan Naturalist represents the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC), the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club (TEHCC), as well as the Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests. The two primary responsibilities of the Roan Naturalist are to 1) Educate hikers about the sensitive ecology in the Highlands of Roan and Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoor ethics to minimize recreational impacts in the Appalachian Trail corridor, and 2) Perform basic ecology and stewardship functions in support of SAHC’s and ATC’s grassy balds and open areas management programs.


Position Title:     Roan Naturalist

Location:              Highlands of Roan — Mitchell and Avery County, NC and Carter County, TN

Supervisor:           SAHC Roan Stewardship Director

Salary:                     $12.00 per hour

Duration:               Seasonal – May 14th – August 17th, 2018




  • Patrol a 13-mile section of the A.T. with 80% of trail time spent between Carvers Gap and Grassy Ridge. The remaining time will be spent in other areas between Ash Gap and Hump Mountain, with particular attention given to Roan High Knob and Overmountain shelters
  • Work schedule is 40 hours per week with a minimum of 2 days and 2 nights on the Trail interacting with visitors and another 2 days of ecological work in areas surrounding the trail corridor
  • Trail nights will be spent at Overmountain Shelter, Roan High Knob Shelter, or on the western balds, including Grassy Ridge.
  • Engage as many visitors as possible in conversations to answer questions and educate the public about Roan ecology and Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.
  • Dismantle excessive fire rings and pack out trash left along the Trail and at overnight sites.
  • Record visitor data, including number and type of visitors (day-hiker, thru-hiker, etc.) as well as overnight site usage. Document number of interpretive conversations, LNT conversations, amount of trash removed, and number of fire rings dismantled
  • Document and report any illegal activity or emergency situations to local authorities, including U.S. Forest Service
  • Document and report any trail deficiencies to ATC and TEHCC, including blow-down trees, or tread problems.
  • Assist with grassy balds management- this includes conducting vegetation surveys, carrying equipment and tools to field sites, conducting management activities (like brush-cutting or weed-eating), and mapping work areas using a GPS.
  • Assist with habitat assessments and surveys for golden-winged warblers and other rare birds
  • Submit weekly reports to SAHC, ATC, and TEHCC outlining the past week’s activity


  • Outstanding communication and education skills
  • Excellent organizational and record-keeping skills
  • Proven ability to interact positively with the public and others
  • Background in biology, ecology, or natural resources management
  • Ability to carry a 50 lb. pack up to 12 miles in a day
  • Ability to use power tools (e.g. weed-eater, chainsaw) to conduct vegetation management
  • Experience and equipment for camping under any weather conditions
  • Commitment to the SAHC’s and ATC’s resource protection efforts


  • First aid training and current certification
  • Leave No Trace training and certification
  • Knowledge of basic GPS/GIS use
  • Ability to learn to identify by sight 5-10 Appalachian plant species
  • Ability to learn to identify (by sight and song) 3-5 bird species
  • Knowledge of basic trail maintenance techniques
  • Willingness to use personal vehicle for transportation to and from trailheads


The Roan Naturalist will be on the Trail for at least two days at a time, rain or shine, often above 5000’ elevation. Weather conditions in the Highlands of Roan are highly unpredictable, but cold, windy, and rainy conditions are common, and lightning danger is extremely high. During this portion of the work week, the naturalist is expected to sleep on the Trail, in a tent. Rustic lodging is available for days off. Weekend and holiday work are required.


The deadline to apply is February 12, 2018. To apply please email a cover letter, resume, and three references to marquette@appalachian.org. All resumes should be titled as “Last Name_First Name.” Please include the position title and your name in the email subject line. An example subject line will read: “Roan Naturalist: Joan Smith.”


The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is one of the country’s oldest and most respected land trusts. Founded in 1974 as a non-profit, charitable organization, SAHC works to conserve the unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, local farmland and scenic beauty of the mountains of North Carolina and east Tennessee for the benefit of present and future generations. This position is being co-sponsored by our partner, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). ATC’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.