Islands Conservation Corps
What do we do?
The Islands Conservation Corps offers the accredited Ecological Restoration Certificate in the San Juan Islands in partnership with the Western Washington University College of the Environment. The program combines academic coursework and hands-on implementation in the fundamentals of ecological restoration. The program is delivered via a series of quarterly online courses plus paid, field-based practicums in the San Juan Islands, integrating hands-on restoration activities, online activities, and in-person learning.
First-year members are eligible to apply to be second-year crew leaders in the program and receive a tuition waiver for their enrollment in the Western Washington University M.A. in Environmental Studies. Up to 10 credits of applicable coursework from the Ecological Restoration Certificate may be approved towards the graduate degree pending approval by WWU Graduate Faculty. Admission to the M.A. in Environmental Studies program is conducted by Western Washington University faculty, separate from the ICC program, and students are accepted on a competitive basis.
The Islands Conservation Corps combines academic coursework and hands-on ecological restoration to cultivate the next generation of land stewardship professionals that understand the history and modernity of conservation from the ground up. The program connects students to real-world challenges in conservation where research and inquiry can shape restoration planning and practices on public and private lands. The ICC recognizes the displacement of Coast Salish people from their ancestral homeland and fosters education in Tribal treaties and Co-Management to help members advocate for Tribal rights and indigenous land management in the conservation field.
What restoration activities is the ICC involved in?
The ICC conducts an average of 24 hours per week of field-based restoration in forestry, woodland, riparian, and nearshore ecosystems. Activities include chainsaw thinning for forest health, landscape fire management, riparian forest buffer planting, noxious weed removal, trail building, fence building for herbivory, and ecological management planning. Activities are performed on public lands in San Juan County in concert with our land agency partners including:
SJC Conservation Land Bank
SJ Preservation Trust
San Juan County Environmental Stewardship
Friends of the San Juans
WA State Parks
Crew activities center on forest restoration, with a focus on Garry Oak release and rehabilitating pre-European contact savannah structure and species composition. Members receive on-going chainsaw education and evaluations from certified trainers through the US Forest Service. Additional activities include carbon-sequestering burning practices, riparian zone restoration, near-shore ecology restoration, and the establishment of native shrubs and pollinators in treated ecosystems.
What is the certificate?
The certificate pairs weekly coursework through Western Washington University's College of the Environment with a paid 21-hour per week AmeriCorps position hosted by the San Juan Islands Conservation District’s Islands Conservation Corps (ICC). In addition, ICC enrollees receive a $3,697 education award. Upon completion, students receive an accredited professional certificate and are in a position to continue work towards future college degrees, post-graduate certificates, or graduate degrees.
Certificate and Program FAQs
Accredited Courses can be applied towards either a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Science, a Post Graduate Degree in GIS or Biological Statistics, or up to 10 credits towards an MA in Environmental Studies at WWU College of the Environment pending approval by the WWU graduate faculty. The Ecological Restoration Certificate integrates local WWU instructors with Natural Resource agencies to proactively address imminent threats to our environment by restoring, conserving, and designing methods for adaptive management at a watershed scale.
Through this certificate program, students will be provided the skillsets to frame projects in ecological theory, conduct technical fieldwork, collect and analyze field data using software such as ARCGIS and R studio, and learn Tribal treaty history and structures for co-management. This certificate will add an additional level of accreditation that will both network and attract future employers within the environmental sector.
What is the structure of the courses?
Courses are offered through the College of the Environment Salish Sea Region, which is a distance-based, interactive network that allows curriculum to be delivered to students by interactive video conferencing and field-based learning. This extends curriculum into communities historically underserved in higher educational opportunities, such as the San Juan Islands.
Is there payment?
Field-based payment: Students are provided a $1,600 monthly living stipend and $400 towards rental assistance per month. In addition, AmeriCorps provides assistance with accessing Washington State healthcare. Second-year members, if accepted by Western Washington University in the M.A. in Environmental Studies program, receive $1,650 per month, $400 towards rental assistance per month, and a full tuition scholarship for M.A. coursework.
How long is the program?
Start and End Date: September 4th of 2024 through July 15th of 2025.
Hours: Field work occurs Monday through Wednesday. Online classes are scheduled from 5 pm – 8 pm and are initiated by in-person faculty with the use of interactive conferencing.
Applications for the 2024/2025 season are open.
Application deadline: April 30th, 2024
To learn more about the ICC program, please contact Program Manager Kai Hoffman-Krull (He/him) at email@example.com
The program is grateful to the generous support of the Orcas Island Community Foundation, San Juan Community Foundation, WA Department of Natural Resources, Career Connect Washington, and our land agency partners. This collaborative seeks to provide equitable access to education and career pathways in the field of land management.