Help Wanted: “Nature Connection” Instructor

GLP Mailchimp Banners-04

Job Description: “Nature Connection” Instructor

Earth Village Education is seeking a “Nature Connection” Instructor to be a vital part of our team as we develop our organization and expand our outreach and impact in the northern Virginia area. Primary responsibilities will be to develop and instruct nature-based youth programs and community events. Secondary responsibilities will be to conduct adult classes and assist in various areas of organizational and facilities development.

  • Hours: Full-time, year-round, 40+ hours/week, with variable/flexible schedule. Some weekends will be required.
  • Compensation: Salaried; starting at $26,000/year and including free room and some board. Compensation commensurate with experience.
  • Start date: as soon as possible.

About us

Earth Village Education is a nonprofit nature education organization based in northern Virginia. Our primary campus is a 97-acre farm and nature preserve located just outside the town of Marshall, about 45 miles west of Washington, DC. Our mission is to transform culture and renew the earth by empowering individuals through education in nature awareness, environmental stewardship, and community development. EVE is a very young organization (just over two years old!) with only a few staff, and we’re still in our “start-up” phase in many ways. A primary goal for these first few years is to launch programs, build capacity, and make impacts in three areas: adult classes, youth programs, and community-building events. Here’s more info about each area:

  • Adult classes. Of our three target areas, this is the one we chose to focus on for our first two years. We conducted twelve adult classes in 2015 and twenty-three adult classes in 2016; topics included wild edible plants, blacksmithing, beekeeping, hide tanning, bird language, fire by friction, beverage fermenting, wool felting, eco-printing/dyeing, wilderness medicine, chainsaw safety and maintenance, etc. We plan to increase the quantity, variety, and attendance of our adult classes in 2017-2018.
  • Youth programs. We conducted a handful of youth programs in 2016, but we’d like to increase and expand our youth programs significantly in 2017-2018. We plan to conduct youth summer camps, after-school nature clubs, and homeschool nature connection classes. We will also offer programs for and increase collaboration with local schools (e.g., field trips and wilderness expeditions), Boy and Girl Scout troops (e.g., merit badge instruction), Boys and Girls Clubs, church youth groups, etc.
  • Community-building events. We conducted several community-building events in 2015 and 2016, and we’d like to expand in this area in 2017-2018. We plan to host open houses and festivals, conduct classes “for the whole family,” and offer free events like potlucks, skill shares, movie nights, and lectures.

Our campus

Our 97-acre campus consists of gardens, pastures, ponds, creeks, wetlands, forest, and indoor/outdoor classroom spaces. We are in the process of renovating the property to align with ecological farming best practices, and we use permaculture principles to raise farm animals, keep bees, and grow over a hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables in our gardens.

There are two residences on the property (where employees live), as well as a barn (which provides classroom and storage space) and several outbuildings. The south-facing roofs of the garage and barn are covered in solar panels which produce much of our electricity, and the residences on the property are heated and cooled using geothermal technology.

Primary responsibilities

Youth programs

  • Design, implement, and instruct youth nature connection programs, such as summer camps, after-school nature clubs, and homeschool nature connection classes.
  • In collaboration with local organizations, design, implement, and instruct programs for local schools (e.g., field trips and wilderness expeditions), Boy and Girl Scout troops (e.g., merit badge instruction), Boys and Girls Clubs, church youth groups, etc.

Community-building events

  • Design and implement community-building events such as “family” classes, open houses, festivals, potlucks, skill shares, movie nights, and lectures.

Secondary responsibilities

Adult classes

  • Teach several adult workshops/classes per year about topics related to our mission.

Organizational and facilities development

  • Assist with public relations and marketing, facilities development and maintenance, and farm and garden chores as needed.

What is nature connection?

At Earth Village Education, we inspire and mentor students to develop their own personal and profound relationship with the natural world; we call this “deep nature connection.” We believe that nature is an incredible teacher, and that the pursuit of nature connection cultivates wonder, ignites passion, reduces stress, sharpens minds, strengthens bodies, nourishes spirits, enriches lives, and inspires environmental stewardship. During our programs, EVE nature connection mentors create a safe and compassionate learning community in which students have direct, curiosity-driven, hands-on outdoor experiences. Mentors explore wild places, play, laugh, and learn right alongside their students, continuously expanding their own passions, knowledge, and skills in the process. A typical day in the field with an EVE mentor might involve wandering in the forest, playing games, getting muddy, making nature art, drawing maps, singing songs, sharing stories, visiting “sit spots,” using all of our senses to observe and savor the natural world, and journalling about our adventures and discoveries. Often, we focus on “earth skills” or “primitive arts” like foraging for wild edible and medicinal plants, tracking animals, interpreting bird language, creating fire by friction, building natural shelters, weaving baskets, practicing camouflage skills and silent movement, cooking over open fire, flintknapping, hide tanning, and archery. We are informed and inspired by many teachers, philosophies, and traditions, including the 8 Shields/Coyote Mentoring model of deep nature connection. For more information, an excellent resource is the book Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature, by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown.

Work culture

  • We are seeking someone who is excited to work as part of a team to help create an exemplary living, working, and learning environment at EVE.
  • There’s lots of room at EVE for staff to develop and shape our organization; consequently, the ideal candidate will be passionate, curious, hard-working, proactive, flexible, enthusiastic, and ready to take responsibility for the growth and health of this organization.
  • As a start-up organization, EVE requires a high level of dedication to getting essential work done when it needs doing and taking time off when it is available. We all pitch in and work as a team to cover all of the bases and make sure that everyone creates time and space for balance and personal time/life. This model requires a high degree of self-awareness, integrity, communication, and team-oriented thinking.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent job experience.
  • Two years experience in a lead instructor role at a nature education center, youth camp, youth therapeutic organization, or similar. Preferred: program planning experience.
  • Passion, creativity, and experience teaching, supervising, and mentoring young people in wilderness settings, especially children ages 6-12.
  • Instructor-level knowledge/experience/expertise in several topics related to nature connection and/or earth skills (see description above). The ideal candidate will have sufficient expertise to teach many of these topics at a level appropriate for children, and one or two of these topics at a level appropriate for adults.
  • Current certification in Wilderness First Aid and CPR.
  • Able to pass a background check.

Preference will be given to applicants who have:

  • Training/experience in the 8 Shields model and the Art of Mentoring/Coyote Mentoring.
  • Knowledge of mid-Atlantic/Appalachian flora/fauna/ecology/geology.
  • Experience in any of the following: ecological farming/permaculture, animal husbandry, outdoor adventure, homesteading.

Desired attributes

  • Excitement to learn and grow.
  • Strong, self-directed, proactive work ethic. Ability to work independently to initiate and complete projects and solve problems.
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills. Ability to give and receive feedback and work as part of a team.
  • Good judgment and discernment; ability to recognize and manage risks.
  • Solid computer and writing skills.
  • Dedicated to professionalism: on time, fully prepared, clean appearance, timely response to phone and email communications, upholding agreements, serving with integrity.

GLP Mailchimp Banners-02

Compensation/benefits

  • Salary commensurate with experience, starting at $26,000/year and including room and some board.
  • “Room” = accommodation in the large residence on EVE’s campus (includes a private bedroom, shared bathroom, shared living space and large kitchen, wi-fi, laundry facilities) and access to our 97-acre campus (includes running trails, a swimming pond, a creek, acres of forest, gardens, workshop spaces, hunting areas). Side benefit: no commute!
  • “Some board” = access to farm produce (fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, wild edibles) for personal consumption.

Additional benefits:

  • Flexible, autonomous work schedule.
  • Free attendance at EVE classes (space permitting).
  • Possibility of extended vacation during winter months.

How to apply

Assemble a complete application packet consisting of:

  • Cover letter introducing yourself and explaining interest in this position.
  • Resume detailing education and experience.
  • A list of topics you can teach, and to what audience (children, teens, adults) and what “level” (beginner, intermediate, advanced, expert).

Email these documents to “admin@EarthVillageEducation.org”. The position will remain open until filled.