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Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC)

Grants to Montana Conservation Districts, Groups, Tribes,
and Agencies to Host Young Conservation Professionals

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, Montana Conservation Corps, and Montana Watershed Coordination Council

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Grants to Montana conservation districts, watershed groups, tribal offices, and government agencies carrying out conservation work to host young professionals during a year-long volunteer program. The goal of this program is to positively impact local conservation efforts while helping young professionals gain experience.

Big Sky Watershed Corps is an Americorps program that places young professionals in Montana watershed communities where they will make a measurable difference in local conservation efforts. BSWC is currently in its fifth year and has been a huge success within the state, with members making strides in watershed research, project planning, and implementation, watershed education and outreach, and community engagement.

This program is an awesome opportunity: it allows young professionals to work closely with a watershed community, implement specialized projects, and provide foundational assistance within their assigned organizations.

Programmatic Goals include:
-Watershed Health and Protection
-Watershed Education and Outreach
-Capacity Building
-Volunteer Generation
-Member Development

BSWC Members: Recent graduates in natural resource management, watershed science, agricultural sciences, environmental education or related educational backgrounds. Members work in communities across Montana to create watershed-based solutions through a combination of field work, education, research, and project development.

Host Sites: Members serve with watershed groups, conservation districts, tribal offices, and other community-based conservation organizations across Montana. For examples of past host sites, partners and activities, please visit partner websites.

Host Site Selection Criteria and Expectations:

-Designate an on-site Supervisor who will attend Supervisor orientation in January, attend additional trainings as needed and provide a minimum of 10 hours of supervision/direct contact time per week. Supervisors are responsible for regular meetings with the Member to monitor and ensure result-based progress. Supervisors will also sign member time sheets, participate in conference calls and complete all necessary program reporting and documentation in a timely fashion.

-Provide the Member with adequate office space, telephone, computer and internet access, and financial support for travel expenses incurred.

-Clearly identify projects and goals that will fulfill an unmet need, positively affect the community and provide a valuable experience for the AmeriCorps BSWC member.

-Help recruit potential Members and complete interviews and reference checks of prospective Members in a timely fashion.

-Provide the Member with a thorough orientation to the community and organization’s philosophy, program, policies, board members and staff. Include the Member in appropriate meetings, retreats, and community events to help connect to other community partners.

-Encourage and support professional development opportunities for the Member, such as conferences, trainings, workshops and other opportunities to network with watershed professionals in Montana.

-Share success stories and help promote and support the program as appropriate.

Eligible Host Site Projects:

During their term of service, Members work on a variety of activities that should fall into one or more of the BSWC programmatic goals described below, but they may focus on specific areas. Applications able to address all program goals and a connection to local communities will be given priority in site selection.

-Watershed Health and Protection: Members develop projects to protect local water resources. Their activities may include watershed inventories; restoration & drought planning; water quality/quantity monitoring; stream, habitat and riparian restoration; re-vegetation projects; riparian fencing; local river clean-up efforts; abandoned mine reclamation; irrigation infrastructure improvements, aquatic invasive species, and more. Host sites directed by Watershed Restoration Plans or that incorporate aspects of the State Water Plan may be given priority. Members are required to track the miles of restored streams, data points collected and/or projects implemented.

-Watershed Education and Outreach: Members play an integral role in helping to promote watershed health and natural resource conservation through outreach and education. They may reach out to Montana watershed communities through lessons in elementary and high schools, community field days, workshops, and trainings. Members develop curriculum; focus on local issues with local solutions; implement outreach campaigns, newsletters, websites and media for communities; and organize public meetings and events for community stakeholders. Members track the number of students and community members (beneficiaries) who receive and benefit from these education and outreach efforts.

-Volunteer Generation and Capacity Building: Members may host volunteer trainings and events that relate to watershed health and protection. They may focus on engaging volunteers for major community events as well as recruiting a long-term, skilled, and influential volunteer base. Members help create dedicated volunteer stream or snow monitoring teams, design and lead youth-focused volunteer events to get young people involved in experiential, field based activities, and inspire a new generation of local landscape stewards. Members track participation through volunteer satisfaction surveys for every event they organize and implement.

Roles and responsibilities:

-Selected BSWC Host Sites will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement that identifies the roles and responsibilities of each organization.

-Designated Site Supervisors and Members must pass a criminal background check.

-MCC will provide a monthly living allowance, health insurance and workers compensation for approved Members.

-Program partners will provide orientation, training and ongoing professional technical support and guidance to Members and Supervisors.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 173415

Estimated Size of Grant:

Member Benefits: $1,000/month living stipend, Work Comp and Health Insurance, $5,780 education award at end of term, and a great service-learning experience.

Term of Contract:

The member service term is early January 2018 through late November 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible host sites are watershed groups, conservation districts, tribal offices, and other community-based conservation organizations across Montana.

Applicants may select from the following organization types:

-Conservation District
-Watershed group or Conservation NGO
-Tribal Office
-Natural Resource Education
-Federal/State/Local Agency

AmeriCorps Prohibited Activities: AmeriCorps prohibits their members from participating in several activities:

-Participating in religious activities, partisan political activities during designated service hours
-Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.
-Engaging in any efforts to influence legislation, including state or local ballot initiatives.
-Administrative work, unless it directly relates to the member’s approved direct service activities.
-Assignments that displace employees.

Pre-Application Information:

Host sites must Provide a $10,000 cash match and track in-kind match via supervision time, office space, travel reimbursement, etc.

Host site applications are due by July 28, 2017.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Qualified host site organizations in Montana are invited to submit a competitive application to host a Big Sky Watershed Corps AmeriCorps member to

Host Site Questions:

Jill Feldhusen, MWCC Watershed Outreach Coordinator

Jessica Makus, SWCDM Programs Manager

Bryan Wilson, BSWC Program Manager

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Montana