Location of Service: Ijams Nature Center – 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920
About Ijams Nature Center:
Located three miles from downtown Knoxville, Ijams Nature Center is an environmental education center visited annually by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. With 318 acres of forests, meadows, wetlands, and creeks, Ijams is perfect for students, families, and nature lovers of all ages. The grounds are open daily 8 am-dusk and entry is free. Ijams Nature Center additionally offers the community a variety of outdoor educational experiences from school field trips, homeschool, nature preschool, natural history programs, educational events, summer camps, kayaking and caving trips, classes, and DIY workshops with a variety of topics. Ijams’ Visitor Center also features live animal exhibits, a gift shop, snacks, trail maps, and information about the programs and classes offered at Ijams. Whether you hike or bike on 12+ miles of trails, paddle on Mead’s Quarry Lake or the Tennessee River, climb at the Ijams Crag, or work out at the Ijams Primal Playground, there are myriad ways to play and learn at Ijams.
The Education Assistant position at Ijams Nature Center will help with several aspects of the education program at Ijams Nature Center. During the work week, this position will assist with leading hikes and live animal programs for school field trips and other youth and adult programming; assist with outreach presentations at local schools and youth organizations; assist with hikes and outdoor educational programming for ages 3-5 at Ijams Nature Preschool, and adult and family education throughout the year; prepare activities, curriculum, staging of supplies, and program logistics; assist with program development and marketing; and have opportunities to develop new initiatives and lessons with the Education Team.
This position will be trained to handle, care for, and present animals that are part of our Education program, including snakes, turtles, spiders, and birds of prey. This position will also be trained to deliver student-centered educational pedagogy and strategies, risk management policies, and aspects of public engagement techniques. The AmeriCorps member filling this position should be ready to provide excellent customer service for visitors and program participants. The member will be expected to provide supervision, group and behavior management, and instruction to participants. The member will also monitor and ensure participant safety and well-being during all programs.
A week in this position will likely include, but is not limited to: Teaching/Assist-teaching 1-3 field trips; Teaching/Assist-teaching 1-2 mornings of Ijams Nature Play Club; Conducting independent and collaborative office/administrative duties in the afternoon (booking field trips, responding to inquiries, organizing/cleaning the education room, etc.); Attending weekly Education and All Staff team meetings – sometimes facilitating, taking notes, actively participating, and/or time-keeping; Completing assigned readings and submit reflections on assignments; Participating in observation of programs including Play Club, Field Trips, Family Programs, Preschool and draft reflections of these experiences to review with supervisor.
A month or season in this position might look like, but is not limited to: Helping to coordinate and implement larger events and multi-day programming strands with Education and Events teams (Tabling, Hummingbird Festival, Waterfest, Hallo-week, Citizen Science, Hikes, Tennessee Naturalist Program, Weekend programs, Community outreach, etc.); Assisting Camp Director, Public Programs Manager, and Early Learning Administrator coordinate, implement, and execute long-term planning for programming; Assisting with programs like Knox Works that involve participating in Navitat, service-learning projects, and/or invasive plant removal; Assisting with grants and budgets; Assisting with social media and marketing; Assisting with Animal Care and Handling (once trained) when Animal Coordinator needs support; Assist/lead animal presentations for groups; Propose, design, and implement at least 1 approved new program, initiative, or capacity-building project to be finished and evaluated by the end of service term.
- Provide public relations/customer service to parents, guardians, and participants to ensure a positive impression of education programs
- Work closely with Education team members to assist with scheduling, administrative, marketing, and evaluation tasks of various program areas, when appropriate
- Communicate with supervisor regularly
- Other duties as assigned
The member(s) in this position will have the opportunity to gain the following skills/credentials:
- Environmental education pedagogy and practice
- Natural and cultural history knowledge
- Interpretive skills with the public in natural and cultural history
- Experience working with various age groups in the outdoors (age 3-18, college, adult, and family)
- Increased proficiency in Google Suite, Canva, Camp Brain, and social media and website platforms
- Training in handling wild animals for educational outreach
- CPR/First Aid
- Community outreach and engagement
- Summer camp experience (ages 3 -15)
- Training to lead caving and kayaking trips
- Basic knowledge and experience regarding natural history of East Tennessee desired
- General knowledge of biology, ecology, natural science, cultural history, and/or teaching methods
- Public speaking skills and the ability to work with people of all ages
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Strong organizational skills, with attention to detail, accuracy, and deadlines
- The ability to multitask, prioritize and display excellent time management skills
- Responsible, creative, relational, enthusiastic, flexible, self-motivated and resourceful team player
- Ability to speak, read, and/or write Spanish a plus
- Valid driver’s license
- Passion for nature and the ability to deliver programs in a pleasant, tactful, and enthusiastic manner
- Pass a background check with Department of Health, complete a physical, and complete 6-8 hours of DHS training (for work with ages 3-5)
- Must adhere to Ijams Nature Center’s COVID-19 policies and procedures that involve wearing masks for long periods of time, distancing with participants, and disinfecting educational equipment
- Must be able to lift and carry or otherwise move up to 50 pounds
- Must be able to work around small children including sitting, standing, running, and climbing
- Must be able to traverse safely over uneven or irregular terrain
- Must be able to work in outdoor environments in all weather conditions
- Must be able to see and respond to dangerous situations
- Must be able to wear personal protective gear correctly most of the day
Equity and Inclusion: The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) is an Equal Opportunity Employer and will take action to ensure that members and employees are treated equally without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, gender, romantic/sexual orientation, age, handicap, cultural or religious convictions. CAC AmeriCorps provides reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees. Applicants with disabilities may request reasonable accommodation at any point in the recruitment / employment process.