Crew Leader

About the Job

The Crew Leader will run a crew comprised of three groups of 4-5 volunteer midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy, the premier college for aspiring officers in the US Navy. The crew leader will go through 8 weeks pre-season training (described below) and then about 10 weeks leading volunteers on multiday, remote field projects. A typical pay period includes meeting at the designated location, driving several hours to a trailhead, backpacking into the project site, staying in the field for up to eight days at a time, hiking out, traveling back to the designated location. Duties also include cleaning gear, tools, vehicles, and completing reporting requirements, and preparing for the next project. 

Position Duration: Week of April 11, 2022 to mid-August 2022 

Season Schedule: Training is variable. Projects generally run on a 5 days on and 3 days off schedule. 

Status: Temporary/Seasonal 

Compensation: $18.00/hr paid every two weeks 

Position Supervisor: Field Operations Coordinator 

Location: Sugar Grove, VA with significant time spent at project sites 

Hiring Timeline:  

  • January 21, 2022: Applications close. Applications received will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  

  • January 28, 2022: All applicants contacted for interviews. 

  • February 4, 2022: First round of interviews completed. 

  • February 18, 2022: Reference check completed. 

  • March 1, 2022: All positions hired. 

Training and Work

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

  • Orientation 

  • Crosscut saw certification 

  • Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification 

  • Trail building and maintenance instruction 

  • Leadership skill development 

  • Backcountry camp and hygiene procedures 

  • Organizational policies and procedures 

  • Justice, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity training and ongoing discussions 

  • Project scouting 

  • 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 

  • Non-native and invasive species removal 

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

  • Boundary marking 

  • Campsite impact mitigation 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Complete crew leader training 

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

  • Lead, supervise and inspire crew members to effectively complete critical backcountry stewardship projects 

  • Communicate directions, project specifications and constructive criticism throughout the season 

  • Teach leadership skills and facilitate leadership opportunities for crew members 

  • Maintain tools and equipment 

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

  • Track project progress daily and accurately report completed work at the end of each project 

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

  • Follow and implement SAWS organizational policies in the field 

  • Maintain high standards for project completion 

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


Crew leaders and assistant crew leaders will receive the following additional benefits:

  • Crosscut saw certification 

  • Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification 

  • Food stipend is provided ($9/day) 

  • Housing at FS work center in Sugar Grove 

  • May qualify for Public Land Service Corp (PLC) hiring authority 

  • Opportunities for professional network growth 

  • Sick time accrual 

  • Opportunities for pro-rated gear deals 


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

  • 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 environment 

  • Knowledge about group dynamics and conflict resolution  

  • Ability to live and work in a remote and primitive setting with diverse groups of people 

  • 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 a plus. 

  • At least three months of leadership experience in a field-based position. 

About Us

Founded in 2010, the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) is a conservation non-profit organization with expertise in 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.  

Learn more about SAWS and what we do at our website

To Apply

Please fill out the application and submit a cover letter and resume here. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds to apply. 

Questions regarding the application may be submitted via email to Rebekah Morrisson, Field Operations Coordinator 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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