Senior Naturalist

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Deadline to Apply:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 4:30pm



Rockport, WA
United States

Job Category:


Job Type:


Job Description:


The Senior Naturalist serves as a master educator at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. Primary roles are providing leadership and support to instructional staff and teaching in a wide variety of programs. Key duties are developing, instructing and evaluating lessons in natural and cultural history, science, and other subjects for wide-ranging audiences, including the Institute’s Graduate Program in partnership with Western Washington University. The Senior Naturalist supervises Naturalist education staff (as many as six) and assists in coordinating programming for Mountain School, Base Camp and Family Getaways. The position is based at the Environmental Learning Center in North Cascades National Park.  

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center is located in the heart of the North Cascades National Park near Diablo, WA, and serves as a hub for a small network of trails along the shores of Diablo Lake. This region of North America has been visited by native tribes for over 9,000 years and continues to be a meaningful location for thousands of visitors each year. Opened in 2005, the Learning Center is a collaboration between North Cascades Institute, National Park Service and Seattle City Light, the public utility that owns and operates the hydroelectric project that includes Diablo Lake, and provides electricity to the residents of Seattle. The Learning Center is approximately 20 miles from the nearest gas station and post office, and 60 miles from towns with full amenities. 

Teaching responsibilities:

Throughout the year, the Senior Naturalist and Naturalist staff teach across a broad range of program areas. All will teach in School Programs. For more information about North Cascades Institute and our programs, please visit our website at:

School Programs (Spring and Fall):

Mountain School is the Institute’s primary school based education program. It is a nationally recognized residential environmental education program for elementary through high school aged students. Students spend three days and two nights at the Learning Center hiking under towering trees, exploring terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and learning about the rich natural and cultural history of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.

Adult, Family, and Conferences and Retreats (Late Spring, Summer, Early Fall):

Throughout the year, the Institute provides incredible experiential programs to adults, families and other groups at the Learning Center. Participants experience Northwest ecosystems through art, photography, literature, natural and cultural history appreciation, canoeing, recreational activities, and other programs. Naturalists are key members of our instructional community and are involved in many aspects of these programs, especially teaching.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Enthusiasm for learning and teaching about the natural world
  • Culturally competent and able to connect with students from a variety of backgrounds
  • Creative, energetic, professional, motivated, cooperative team player, good sense of humor
  • Good judgment, flexibility and ability to work independently and reliably
  • Ability to speak multiple languages a plus ++
  • Experience teaching elementary, middle and high school youth and working with teachers and chaperones (Residential environmental education experience a plus ++)
  • Familiarity with inquiry-based teaching and learning
  • Experience designing and developing curriculum
  • Ability to adjust teaching methods and styles to accommodate different audiences and learning styles
  • Knowledge of basic scientific principles and how to teach them
  • Strong ability to teach canoeing and water safety skills
  • Strong work ethic and a desire to grow and improve both yourself and the organization
  • Ability to work flexible hours including evenings, weekends and overnight backcountry trips
  • Ability to work and live comfortably in a small community
  • Knowledge of the North Cascades natural and cultural history a plus ++
  • Experience leading wilderness programs and associated risk management protocols
  • Experience leading groups in service and manual labor projects

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree with two years relevant experience and/or training.
  • Current Wilderness First Responder certification upon date of hire
  • Ability to lift and carry 60 pounds, perform physically demanding work, backpack and hike over uneven terrain
  • Valid driver’s license and driving record must have no more than one moving violation in the past three years, no DUI, reckless driving, serious moving violations, etc.
  • Final offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check that may include employment history, national criminal background check, national sex offender registry search and a driving history check.                                                                           


Leadership and Instruction:

The Senior Naturalist serves as a master educator at the Learning Center and in the organization as a whole. This aspect of the position manifests not only in teaching programs to a wide variety of age groups and demographics, but in the workplace culture as well. This position is a driving force behind teaching and learning at the organization and inspires others to excel in their work. Specifically, the Senior Naturalist will teach the most in the following program areas:

  • Mountain School: lessons for elementary, middle and high school youth; lessons in natural and cultural history, science, the arts and other subjects.
  • Family Getaways and Base Camp: lessons for multi-generational groups facilitating adventure and exploration. In charge of coordination, instruction and staff/graduate supervision and leadership
  • Adult Programs: lessons in local natural and cultural history for a wide variety of participants
  • All programs: supports curriculum planning and development


The Senior Naturalist will serve as the primary coordinator for both Family Getaways and Base Camp. This involves directing the daily activities of staff who are working in the program and communicating with the Facilities Manager and Kitchen Manager to produce exceptional, accessible, high-quality programming throughout all aspects of a participant’s experience. This will also mean using Salesforce and Google Drive to help proof details, communicate and relay information.

  • Assist with mentorship, education and trainings for staff, graduate students and interns
  • Plan and execute staff trainings throughout the year with Naturalists, graduate students, Program Manager and Program Coordinator. 
  • Coordinate Family Getaways and Base Camp programming
  • Uphold and enforce Institute policies and procedures
  • Maintain a high level of risk management in all program areas

Mentorship & Supervision:

The Senior Naturalist serves as a mentor for graduate students and education staff to help further their development in education techniques and practices. They supervise Naturalists, schedule check-ins, observations and reviews and supervise graduate leadership tracks for Family Getaways and Base Camp programming.

  • Create and lead community-building events on a bi-monthly basis to promote a positive community environment at the Learning Center
  • Supervise Naturalists (six during Mountain School season and three during the summer) and graduate students and other staff working in programs
  • Conduct observations and provide feedback for Naturalists and graduate students
  • Help promote a positive environment at the Learning Center
  • Perform other designated work and assist in other program areas as assigned                                                                                                                                               

Start/ End Date:

February 13, 2017 – November 15, 2017 (extension possible)


This is a temporary/seasonal, full time, non-exempt position, eligible for overtime pay. The wage range is $12.00 - $14.00 per hour depending on qualifications and experience.


Shared housing is available for the duration of the position, either at the Learning Center or in the neighboring towns of Diablo, Newhalem or Marblemount. Meals are provided when programs are in session; otherwise, instructors are responsible for providing their own food. Employees are responsible for their own health insurance and transportation (which is strongly encouraged).                                        

Equal Opportunity Employer:

Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is a high priority at North Cascades Institute. The Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, military, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, citizenship or any other basis prohibited by law in any of its policies or programs.                                                      

About North Cascades Institute:                                                       

The Institute’s mission is to conserve and restore Northwest environments through education. Since 1986 we have helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of natural and cultural history. Our goal is to help people of all ages experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest – so all will care for and protect this special place. The Institute is committed to innovation and excellence in environmental learning and leadership in the nonprofit community. We believe that sustainable communities are built on healthy environments, vibrant economies and social equity.                                                       

North Cascades Institute,, is a respected, national leader among U.S. environmental education organizations. The Institute is in sound financial health with a $3 million budget and strong reserves, and more than a decade of Four-Star ratings with Charity Navigator. The Institute was also voted “Best Place to Work” in the 2013 Bellingham Alive – Best in the Northwest annual readers’ poll. This is a wonderful opportunity to join North Cascades Institute at a time of exciting growth.    

How to Apply:

Application Deadline:

January 3, 2017 (priority; open until filled)

To Apply:

Please apply online on our website at:

Complete the online application and upload a cover letter and resume. Please indicate in your cover letter which specific program areas you are most interested in working with.