Developing conservation capacity and leadership in the Sierra to increase pace and scale of forest restoration.
What is the Sierra Corps Forestry Fellowship Program?
The Sierra Corps Forestry Fellowship Program aims to increase workforce capacity for organizations and agencies implementing forest health and natural resource management projects throughout the Sierra. The program creates leaders in the conservation field by providing technical trainings and meaningful career development opportunities through the Fellowship positions. The program is administered by the Sierra Nevada Alliance with funding provided by the California Timber Regulation and Forest Restoration Fund and the Regional Forest and Fire Capacity Program through the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, an agency of the State of California. Sierra Corps was started in Fall 2019 and is currently funded through 2021. The mission of Sierra Corps is to increase workforce capacity for critical forest health management projects in the Sierra Nevada. The first cohort of Sierra Corps Fellows started working at their Host Sites in January 2020.
Host Site Resources
2020 Fellowship Positions and Host Sites
- Forest Restoration Fellow – American Forests with Eldorado National Forest
- Program Liaison – Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions
- Program Management Fellow – Eastern California Water Association – American Forests
- Natural Resource Specialist – Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District
- Project Management Fellow – Yosemite Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council with American Forests
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Interested in a career in forestry and natural resource management? Love the Sierra and want to help conserve and restore Sierra forests while becoming an environmental leader?
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Why start this new program?
In response to the increasing risk of catastrophic wildfire and decline in forest health in the Sierra, conservation organizations came together to start this new workforce capacity program aimed to increase the pace and scale of forest restoration. Funders and partners recognized an issue in the Sierra that was preventing many of the efforts to increase the pace and scale of forest restoration that is so desperately needed: lack of workforce capacity. Organizations were getting handed grants to do forest restoration work, but there was very little money to increase staffing capacity to implement those funded restoration projects. Many grant programs limit how much can be spent on program overhead and staffing salaries and there often isn’t enough in the budget to hire additional staff causing existing staff to spread themselves thin trying to do the good work of restoring our forests and preventing catastrophic wildfire.
Putting their heads together, leaders from throughout the Sierra came up with the idea for a cost-share workforce program similar to AmeriCorps, but with less of the federal bureaucracy that comes with AmeriCorps. The Sierra Nevada Alliance took the role of Program lead and obtained a grant agreement from Sierra Nevada Conservancy to develop the Sierra Corps Program. The program not only supports organizational capacity for non-profits and agencies throughout the Sierra, but also trains the next generation of natural resource management leaders.
How Does it Work?
Sierra Corps is a cost share workforce program designed to support forest health and natural resource management projects in the Sierra Nevada. The structure of the program helps relieve some of the financial and organizational burdens of hiring a staff member when Host Site organizations need to increase their programmatic capacity. Host Sites partner with the Sierra Corps Program and provide financial match that equals about half of the true cost of hiring a Fellow. The Alliance manages initial candidate recruitment, application processes, first round interviews, provides employee benefits, distributes Fellows’ wages, and provides professional training and career development opportunities for the Fellows and Fellows work full-time at Host Site organizations. Host Sites are responsible for providing meaningful mentorship and work opportunities to Fellows and are involved in second round interviews and the final selection process of the Fellow they wish to have work for them. By partnering with the Sierra Corps Program, Host Site organizations save money and time in the effort to expand their organizational capacity.
Throughout the Fellowships the Alliance provides training, networking and career development opportunities for Fellows. A stipend is available for each Fellow to pursue additional education and training opportunities during their Fellowship. An accreditation element is also under development for the Fellowships.