Are you ready to hoist your pack and head for a season in the woods? Well, be advised: So are several thousands of others! The competition for temporary National Park Service jobs and U.S. Forest Service jobs is very stiff, so apply as early as possible during their respective filing periods. In general, it's best to apply in only one region (in fact, the Forest Service requires that its applicants choose one area to work in) ... and to request a specific type of job for which you can offer relevant skills and experience.
U.S. Forest Service
All hiring for volunteer posts in national forests is done strictly on the local level, so you should inquire about such positions in person at the district ranger's office in the forest where you want to work.
The Forest Service's paid seasonal employees, on the other hand, are chosen on a national basis. To apply, you should first pick up the agency's Form OMB No. 40-83976 ... which is available from your local ranger station, by writing to the U.S. Forest Service, or online. This booklet contains an employment application, a map of all national forests and experiment stations, and the address of the Forest Service's headquarters office in each region. Send your completed application (between the filing dates of December 1 and January 15) to one of those offices, which will forward your credentials in turn to each national forest in the area until all employment quotas are filled. (No Civil Service exam Is required for seasonal applicants.)
National Park Service
The Park Service employs volunteers—often on a part-time basis—to assist rangers in such areas as interpretation, living history demonstrations, environmental study, and resource management. You can apply for such work by writing to the superintendent of the NPS area in which you want to serve. (For hiring purposes, the United States is divided into nine regions.) In order to obtain the addresses of those regional offices, and to get further information about the program, write to Public Inquiries, National Park Service, and ask for a copy of the free pamphlet "Volunteers in Parks."
If you'd like to land a paid position in a national park, your application must be flied between September 1 and January 15. You can pick up the Park Service's computerized form from any regional office, request in writing the free "National Park Service Seasonal Employment Brochure" from the agency's national headquarters, or obtain it online. It includes an application form and instruction booklet as well as details on the kinds of jobs available.
An Additional Aid
Does the whole procedure sound a mite confusing? Well, you can cut through some of the necessary red tape by consulting an excellent book that was published in 1978, entitled Wildiand Agency Employment Guide. The author—Jasper G. Rucker—has worked, for several years, as a Forestry and Range Technician in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (a division of the Interior Department).
Rucker's guide explains the hiring and employment procedures of government land resource agencies in detail. Although he briefly mentions permanent jobs, his emphasis is on temporary positions. He provides information on pay scales and job descriptions, plus a sample application form that's accompanied by tips on how best to fill in the blanks. In short, the spiral-bound manual contains everything you need to know if you're planning to apply for seasonal resource work!
So get ready for a few months of clean air, clear water, and pristine wilderness plus a chance to practice your self-sufficiency skills while doing some worthwhile (and enjoyable) work in a beautiful setting—and get your application In now. Good luck!