Islands Conservation Corps
What do we do?
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. 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. 10 credits of the first-year Ecological Restoration Certificate go towards the 45 credits needed for the M.A. in Environmental Studies. Graduate courses are provided a hybrid model of online and place-based learning, with students taking courses remotely and traveling to Bellingham for on-campus coursework.
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 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.
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). 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 $3,440 education award and take certificate courses at a discount, incurring no out-of-pocket costs for 13 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.
Certificate and Program FAQs
13 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 at WWU College of the Environment. 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 to two nights per week.
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 a cost to the program?
Accredited classes cost $3,100, which can be covered by the $3,440 Education Award from the 900-hour AmeriCorps position. Non-accredited opportunities are $10 per credit.
Field-based payment: Students are provided a $1,250 monthly living stipend and $450 towards rental assistance per month. In addition, AmeriCorps provides assistance with accessing Washington State healthcare. Second-year members receive $1,300 per month, $500 towards rental assistance per month, and a full tuition scholarship for M.A. coursework.
Is there a non-credit option?
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.
How long is the program?
Start and End Date: September 4th of 2023 through June 30th of 2024.
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 2023/2024 season are open.
Application deadline: April 30th, 2023
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.