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Assistant Field Crew Leader

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Position Duration: April 8 to October 2024

Status: Temporary/Seasonal

Compensation: $18.00/hr paid every two weeks

Training Schedule: Training schedule is variable and will switch from 8 days on, 6 days off to 5 days on, 2 days off as training requires.

Hitch Schedule: 8 days working, 6 days off (8 10-hour days) with potential at the end of the season to require 10 days working, 4 days off (10 8-hour days). Exact schedules will be finalized in the spring.

Location: Crews are based out of Asheville, North Carolina but will be camping and working within various National Forests across the southeast region.

Supervisor: Field Program Manager

Crew Structure: One Crew Leader, 1 Assistant Crew Leader, 4-5 Crew Members

Hiring Timeline:

*Dates are ideal but positions will be filled on a rolling basis.*

December 30, 2023: Applications close.
January 5, 2024: All applicants contacted by this date.  
January 19, 2024: Reference checks completed.
February 2, 2024: Positions hired by this date.

Under leadership of the Field Crew Leader, the Assistant Crew Leader will help lead four Crew Members while camping and working on remote projects with limited to no cell service. Crews are expected to backpack and live in physically demanding, remote environments for at least 8 (and sometimes 10) days at a time. Conditions of this environment may vary significantly including freezing temperatures, high humidity, persistent rain, and high elevation. The remote nature of our work may mean delayed access to medical care. Leadership of the crew will require excellent communication skills and judgment, maturity, organization, an ability to train in the field, professionalism, initiative, emotional maturity and resilience, resourcefulness, patience, ability to delegate tasks, technical trailwork skills, and comfort in the outdoors with minimal contact to others while on hitch. Assistant Crew Leaders are expected to help Crew Leaders make decisions in the field to keep their crew safe and provide a high quantity and quality of work for our partners. If a Crew Leader must leave the field or cannot head into the field, the Assistant Crew Leader is expected to fulfill the Crew Leader responsibilities.

A typical work hitch includes meeting at the SAWS office, driving a SAWS vehicle several hours to a trailhead, backpacking into the project site, staying in the field for up to ten days at a time, hiking out, traveling back to the office, cleaning gear, tools, vehicles, completing reporting requirements, and preparing and prepping your crew for the next work hitch.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Duties are done under supervision of the Crew Leader

  • Complete crew leader training

  • Submit paperwork (timesheet, hitch report, incident reports, project photos) in a timely manner

  • Manage credit card purchases and receipt reconciliation

  • Adjust plans and make decisions as the season, work week, or day unfolds

  • Transport crew and equipment safely in SAWS 18-passenger vans or SAWS truck

  • Manage, train, supervise, and lead the day-to-day details of project work in varied weather conditions

  • Communicate directions and project specifications to Crew Members

  • Monitor, manage, and promote the crew’s physical and emotional safety on and off the work site

  • Maintain a crew cache of tools and equipment

  • Use a variety of hand tools and understand complex rigging systems

  • Assist SAWS staff in developing and maintaining strong, positive relationships with agency personnel, partner organization staff and volunteers

  • Craft and curate media (blogs, photography, video, etc.) to share for reporting and documentation

  • Learn, practice, and teach ‘Leave no Trace’ techniques

  • Follow and implement SAWS organizational policies in the field

  • Maintain high standards for project completion and quality work

  • Maintain an inclusive, safe, positive, and fun working environment

The Field Crew Leader and Assistant Crew Leader will go through 8 weeks of pre-season training (described below) followed by a 10-week summer season and a 10-week fall season in the field.

The pre-season training for the leadership team consists of:

  • Crosscut saw training

  • Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification

  • Trail building and maintenance instruction

  • Leadership skill development

  • Backcountry camp and hygiene procedures

  • Organizational policies and procedures

  • Wilderness Skills Institute attendance and instruction experience

Once the season starts, all field crews may address projects including, but not limited to:

  • Trail relocations

  • Erosion control (installation of water bars, grade dips, log or stone steps, etc.)

  • Reestablishing trail surface

  • Brushing trail corridors and removing downed trees

  • Rockwork

  • Public education (Leave No Trace, bear safety and awareness, Wilderness education, etc.)

Training and Work


  • Crosscut saw certification (level depends on proficiency)

  • Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification

  • Food stipend is provided ($10/day) during hitches

  • May qualify for Public Land Service Corp (PLC) Hiring Authority certificate

  • Opportunities for professional network growth and leadership development

  • Sick time accrual

  • Opportunities for pro-rated gear deals


In addition to enthusiasm for the SAWS mission, applicants should have the following:

  • Commitment to SAWS’ Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion values and dismantling racist systems and barriers to access to public lands.

  • Ability to travel on foot over rough terrain for up to 10 miles per day while carrying 60 lbs. or more

  • Ability and desire to create a safe and inclusive work culture

  • Knowledge about group dynamics and conflict resolution

  • Ability to live and work in a remote and primitive setting with a diverse group of people without an ability to communicate with folks outside the crew

  • Desire to be a member of a hard-working team and transformative non-profit organization

  • Six to nine months of trail work experience; backcountry trail work experience preferred

  • Three months of leadership experience in a field-based position.

  • Ability to regularly lift and/or move up to 60 pounds

  • Required to drive a SAWS vehicle

  • Must be able to speak, understand, read, and write English

  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions

  • Ability to pass a background check

  • Must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident

About Us

Founded in 2010, the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) is a conservation non-profit organization with expertise in federally designated Wilderness. We are dedicated to educating, cultivating, and empowering an engaged public and the next generation in the stewardship of public lands in the Southeast. At SAWS, we believe that taking care of our public lands and connecting them to the next generation matters. We also believe that it is our shared responsibility to care for these lands; to advance justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity in the outdoors; and to educate, train, and develop a skilled workforce to be the next conservation stewards and conservation leaders.

Headquartered in Asheville, NC and with an office in Roanoke, VA, we focus our efforts on wilderness areas in National Forests throughout the southern Appalachian region. We regularly work in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, and respond on a case-by-case basis to requests for assistance in other locations.

To Apply

Please submit a cover letter and resume at the bottom of this page. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds to apply. Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.

Questions regarding the application may be submitted to Rebekah Morrisson, Field Program Manager at

SAWS is an equal opportunity employer and provides a drug-free workplace. SAWS values a safe, inclusive work environment, free from discrimination of any kind.

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