What does SCA stand for? Well…
Slick Cat Association? Salty Creek Association? Southern Community Assistance?
Naw, it’s the Student Conservation Association. Just like the name implies, it’s a conservation-based association that connects young people (as well as those that are young at heart) to work in a variety of public spaces.
Yours truly stumbled across it somewhat accidentally. I’m not sure how I originally found out about it, but I remember just drooling over the internships and places that I could potentially go with this organization. I’ve been working with them for them for about a year now, but I didn’t realize that that I was just looking at one side of it.
The SCA has two main paths for young adults. Internships and team-based corps programs. I haven’t had experience with the internship side (besides going to the website and picking an unknown place to see what internships are available), but it tends to be more individual placements ranging from habitat restoration to environmental education.
My experience so far is with the corps team, beginning with my first placement on Catalina Island. I worked there for four months. The corp teams usually work on trails, but that covers a lot of ground! (Literally and metaphorically, ha). Generally speaking, these programs last four to five months. They take place in the summer, and cover territory in public lands. However there are some programs in winter, and other programs are ongoing (like my current program!) If you sign up for a corps team, you’ll living and working with the same people for 24/7.
I’ve acquired new skills and certificates from my experiences. For example, I now have chainsaw operating experience, a wilderness first aid certificate, and in April will get trained as a Wilderness First Responder.
Prior to working on trails, I had just taken them for granted. They magically appeared! Now I know better, and can’t un-see what could improve in already established trails.
I like to think of the SCA as a little bit of give and take. You get to give back and contribute to the world around you, but you also get a lot: karma- points, and opportunities to grow and travel.
Karma points: let’s be honest, it’s pretty much a volunteer job. That being said, as mentioned above, it provides lots of opportunities for growth and a way to connect with others in your industry. A couple of people from my first corp program went back to work together in the same place. SCA encourages growing as a leader as well. Though my first experience was on the team, by my second posting in Alaska, I co-lead a high school group.
Plus, I don’t have to pay for housing or meals! #winning.
From my SCA work experience, I’ve seen places that I never would have thought I’d see. Catalina Island, the site of my first posting, is now near and dear to my heart after living there for four months. I’ve worked in places that I visited as a kid in Alaska, and parts of Nevada and Utah are familiar to me. Two weeks into 2018, I hopped on a plane to my current job, a ten-month posting in a state park in New Hampshire.
Now that you know what SCA stands for, I can’t wait to share more details of my job!
(SCA has been around for 60 years! What?!)