South Florida Island Conservation Steward

Job Title

South Florida Island Conservation Steward

Job ID




Full/Part Time


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Big Pine Key, Florida, USA


Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 72 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Nature Conservancy offers competitive compensation, 401k or savings-plan matching for eligible employees, excellent benefits, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We also provide professional development opportunities and promote from within. As a result, you will find a culture that supports and inspires conservation achievement and personal development, both within the workplace and beyond.


The South Florida Island Conservation Steward (Steward) is part of the Stewardship and Field Programs Department of the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The position works under the supervision of the South Florida Land Conservation Coordinator and is based on David Wolkowsky Key (also known as Ballast Key) in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. David Wolkowsky Key is a 14-acre island located 8 miles west of Key West and it is accessible only by boat.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns the island and its facilities (i.e., two houses, utility building and dock) and it is managed by The Nature Conservancy for habitat protection and support of scientists, educators, and other authorized visitors. The island is not open to the general public. The Steward and an Assistant Steward, both of whom will report to the South Florida Land Conservation Coordinator, will reside on the island, providing 24-hour security, natural areas and facilities maintenance, and visitor support. TNC will provide a work boat and relief staff or volunteers, if necessary, so the Steward may resupply food and other supplies, dispose of garbage, etc.  This position is term limited (see question about the term). Living quarters will include a private bedroom and bathroom and a shared kitchen space.


The Steward conducts 24-hour site security, habitat stewardship, equipment and facilities maintenance, and visitor support functions, including volunteer coordination and supervision, on David Wolkowsky Key (also known as Ballast Key) in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. The fulltime Steward will live on-site and work closely with a part-time Island Stewardship Assistant also stationed at David Wolkowsky Key. The Steward will operate and conduct basic maintenance on an outboard engine powered boat. 

  • Security functions require regular patrols around the island for any signs of trespassing. Tactful handling of unauthorized visitors at any time of day or night and potentially coordination with local law enforcement officers.

  • Habitat stewardship functions include invasive exotic plant and animal management, marine debris removal, and potentially native species propagation and planting, applied conservation science and monitoring projects, and upkeep of data and records.

  • Equipment and facilities maintenance functions include keeping the structures, grounds, and vehicles clean and tidy, troubleshooting and repairing vehicles, structures (e.g., carpentry, painting, plumbing) and infrastructure including the dock, roads/trails, water, wastewater, and electricity generation systems.  Personal and work supplies will be obtained in Key West and solid waste will be hauled there for disposal by boat. Keep records of repair activities, service records, and any potential repair needs not already identified.  

  • Visitor support functions include checking in and orienting authorized visitors, shuttling their supplies between the dock and accommodations using a UTV, assisting them with any issues that may arise with respect to the accommodations, ensuring that rules are adhered to, and checking them out. On occasion the Steward may assist with meal preparation, serving, and clean-up for visitors. The Steward will support volunteer activities on the island by coordinating and working with volunteers on habitat and facilities projects.

  • The steward will serve as the main island point of contact and will be responsible for communications and reporting.


  • Apply various land management tools & techniques such as the use of herbicides, chainsaws, UTV’s, pumps and tanks, brush cutters, hand tools, GPS units and heavy equipment to achieve natural resource management objectives for David Wolkowsky Key.

  • Apply various facilities maintenance tools and techniques for carpentry, plumbing, painting, and mechanical repair, troubleshooting and upkeep including power tools and hand tools.

  • Will use and maintain TNC watercraft and comply with FL Chapter Diving, Snorkeling and Boating Safety SOP’s and Guidelines.

  • Will use and maintain TNC firearm to control invasive animals and will comply with FL Chapter Safety Guidelines for Firearms.

  • Must be proficient in the operation of equipment, watercraft, and off-road vehicles and must follow recommended safety guidelines and precautions specified for said work.

  • Will use Conservancy-owned vehicles and must be able to safely operate All-terrain vehicle (ATV) or Utility All-Terrain Vehicle (UTV) and comply with FL Chapter All-Terrain Vehicle Operating Guidelines.

  • Controlling of invasive species through mechanical and chemical techniques.

  • Maintain personal appearance in professional, presentable fashion, suitable to represent The Nature Conservancy to agencies and the public.

  • Good interpersonal skills. Ability to maintain positive morale under adverse working conditions. Ability to get along alone and in a group setting.

  • Ability to de-escalate conflict situations and to follow safety plans.

  • Ability to complete tasks within assigned timeframes, frequently in the absence of direct supervision.

  • PC familiarity and willingness to learn various databases for record maintenance.

  • Maintain resource management equipment/tools and ensure they are in safe working condition.

  • Familiarity with OSHA regulations and compliance.

  • Supervises no staff, but may help plan and direct preserve work groups, including staff or volunteers.    

  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain, and under physically demanding circumstances.

  • Requires considerable physical exertion and/or muscular strain.                                                                                          

  • Requires long hours in isolated settings.                                                                                                                       

  • Makes day to day decisions as delegated by supervisor.                                                                                                 

  • May work under infrequent direct supervision.


  • High school diploma or GED and 1 year’s training in science-related field or related experience in land management.

  • Experience recognizing plant and animal species.       

  • Experience operating various types of equipment in a safe and efficient manner (e.g. Lawn mower, chainsaw, UTV, ATV or OHV, two-way radio, or similar equipment).                       

  • Experience working in a team environment.                                           

  • Must be able to obtain related licenses or certifications as required. (e.g. First Aid, CPR, herbicide or pesticide application).


  • Multi-lingual skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.

  • College degree in natural resource management, ecology, biology, etc.

  • 1 - 2 years’ experience in land management or related field.                    

  • Experience working with or knowledge of natural systems.  

  • Ability to obtain driver’s license and maintain a good driving record.

  • Ability to follow instructions from colleagues/coworkers/team members.

  • PC and/or mobile device familiarity, including database knowledge or understanding. 

  • Knowledge and use of the application of herbicides.

  • Experience using ArcMap/GIS and GPS devices.

  • Carpentry, painting, plumbing, electrical and mechanical skills.

  • Experience operating and maintaining watercraft.

  • Paramedic, Emergency Medical Technician, or Wilderness First Responder certification.

  • Must hold a valid state driver’s license and have a safe driving record.

  • Customer service, hospitality and meal preparation experience.


Hourly, Term limited June 28, 2019 to June 30, 2020 with possibility of extension.


This position requires a valid driver's license and compliance with the Conservancy's Auto Safety Program. Employees may not drive Conservancy-owned/leased vehicles, rental cars, or personal vehicles on behalf of the Conservancy if considered "high risk drivers." Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at

Employment in this position will be contingent upon completion of a Vehicle Use Agreement, which may include a review of the prospective employee's motor vehicle record.


To apply to position number 47635, submit resume (required) and cover letter separately using the upload buttons. All applications must be submitted in the system prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 7, 2019.

Click “submit” to apply for the position or “save for later” to create a draft application for future submission. Once submitted, applications cannot be revised or edited. Failure to complete required fields may result in your application being disqualified from consideration.

If you experience technical issues, please refer to our applicant user guide or contact

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

The successful applicant must meet the requirements of The Nature Conservancy’s background screening process.