Islands Conservation Corps
Meet the current crew here
The Islands Conservation Corps offers both the accredited and non-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, preparing the next generation of ecologists for the Pacific Northwest land management workforce. 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.
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). Certificate students enrolled in the ICC will conduct field restoration activities that count toward practicum credits for certificate courses. In addition, ICC enrollees receive a $3,240 education award and take certificate courses at a discount, incurring no out-of-pocket costs for 20 credits on their transcript. 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.
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.
The ICC conducts an average of 21 hours per week of field-based restoration in forestry, woodland, riparian, and nearshore ecosystems. Activities are performed on public lands in San Juan County in concert with our land agency partners including:
SJC Land Bank
SJC Environmental Stewardship
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.
Certificate Details for WWU College of the Environment
20 Credits Annually – Available for-credit and non-credit: Accredited Courses can be applied towards either a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Science, or a Post Graduate Degree in GIS or Biological Statistics. 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, and collect and analyze field data using software such as ARCGIS and R studio. This certificate will add an additional level of accreditation that will both network and attract future employers within the environmental sector.
Students are encouraged to take 1 seminar course per quarter, but are allowed to take more courses based on goals outlined with an academic advisor. Many classes are offered only once per year and must be taken in sequence, so careful planning with an advisor is recommended. Classes run 5-8 pm one night per week.
Course Type: 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.
The non-credit certificate offers a lower-price point of $10/ credit and is designed for the working professional that looks to hold a part-time job outside of crew and class activities. This pathway offers an Ecological Restoration Certificate of completion for attending the courses, and does not require the member to conduct class activities or graded coursework.
Cost: Accredited classes cost $3,100, which can be covered by the $3,240 Education Award from the 900-hour AmeriCorps position. Credits are valued at $6,920. Non-accredited opportunities are $10 per credit.
Start and End Date: September 1st of 2021 through July 1st of 2022.
Hours: Field work occurs 3 days a week from September 15th-July 15th annually. Online classes are scheduled from 5 pm – 8 pm and are initiated by in-person faculty with the use of interactive conferencing. Field-based coursework occurs from 2-4 pm on Tuesday afternoons.
Field-based payment: Students are provided a $1,100 monthly living stipend and $350 towards rental assistance per month. In addition, AmeriCorps provides assistance with accessing Washington State healthcare.
Sample Careers: Conservation Scientists | Natural Resource Managers | Environmental Engineers | Arborists | Wildland Firefighters | Environmental Communications | Environmental Analyst | Environmental Advocate | Government Agency Employee | Sustainability Officer | Water Resource Manager | Environmental Consultants | GIS Consultants | Forest Service Employee | Ecology Educators