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Field Ecologists

Field Ecologists (Forestry)

Skylight Forestry is a data collection and forestry support contracting firm. We provide services to the public and private sectors nation-wide. Through rigorous field data collection and remote sensing, we seek to understand the extent of our nation’s forest & tree resources, how it varies across the nation and how it is changing.

We are passionate about working in the woods, observing, and collecting information on our natural environment and exploring places we would probably would never have gone to otherwise. The data we collect helps natural resource managers of all kinds make informed decisions. We value our natural resources and care deeply about what happens to them, especially our forests. We are seeking adventurous and driven folks to help us collect this important data.

Job Description:                                             

Skylight Forestry, Inc. is looking to hire 3-4 full-time seasonal (April 24-November 10) Field Ecologists (Forestry) to support the Forest Inventory and Analysis program run by the USDA Forest Service PNW Research Station and administered by CALFIRE to collect Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Data. More information on the FIA Program can be found here:

Reporting directly to the Project Manager, your primary responsibility will be collecting high quality data on the forest. Significant amount of time will be spent backpacking through remote and rugged terrain to access these plot locations.  Plots are spread across both public and private forested lands throughout 3 regions of California.

Locations: Consists of three different project areas (forested public and private lands)*:

“Area 4”: East from Nevada border, West to the coast, North as Yuba City and South as Vallejo

“Area 5”: East from Nevada border, West to the coast, North as Stockton and South as Salinas

“Area 6”: East from Nevada border, West to the coast, North as Merced and South as San Luis Obispo

*All permissions necessary to access private property will be done by CALFIRE. All permits and/or keys needed to access National Parks, Forests, etc. will be provided.

Job is 100% remote. 85% field work/ 15% data editing on laptop

Pay: Salaried employee (exempt) with biweekly pay: $5,500/month- $10,000/month with production bonuses. Stipend for utilizing camper/misc. camping gear/laptop $125/month. Measuring tools will be provided. Pay is commensurate with experience.

What You’ll Do:

Conduct extensive forest inventories in accordance with the 2023 FIA field procedures

  • Determine plot location accuracy and accessibility
  • Locate and access plots using aerial photographs, online maps, GPS, compass
  • Hike up to 15 miles a day over rugged terrain, on- and off- trail
  • Work independently and make technical interpretations of the field guide
  • Record all measurements utilizing a personal data recorder, upload and edit data, and complete accurate and concise plot summaries of all plot visits
  • Use resources such as botanical keys and/or plant association guides to identify trees, forbs, grasses, and shrubs
  • Collects specific plot data which includes: latitude/longitude, aspect, slope %, crown class, crown ratio, site index, species, DBH, height, defect, canopy cover, mortality, tree count, tree class, disease, damage agent, damage severity, land cover class, etc.
  • Conduct down woody material transects
  • Coordinates with landowners on occasion to gain necessary access to plots

Sound like you?

Demonstrated experience spending significant amounts of time working and traveling in remote forested ecosystems in the western US. You probably have a degree in the natural sciences, but possibly not.

  • Enjoy working with a high level of autonomy and flexibility
  • Experience and willingness to spend multiple days truck-camping in remote areas
  • Ability to travel to plot locations via foot, 4×4, horse, boat, or airplane
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience on the go problem solving with little to no supervision
  • Ability to be extremely detailed oriented under adverse weather and geographic conditions.
  • Excellent level of physical fitness, and a positive mental attitude
  • Ability to hike up to 15-20 miles/day
  • Attention to scientific detail
  • Ability to bushwack through rough, uneven forested terrain for long periods of time
  • Identification of tree species and plant communities found in the western United States
  • Passionate about Forestry, Ecology and Natural Resources Management
  • US Driver’s License

Preferred Experiences and Qualifications:

BS or MS in Ecology, Forestry, Environmental Science, Botany or related Natural Resources field with three (3)+ years experience with technical vegetation/forest measurements.

  • Ability to travel and live in remote backcountry environments for extended periods of time from the mountains to the valley to the coast.
  • Ability to work independently and travel to plot locations over various ecosystems & terrains.
  • Ability to work for extended periods of time to meet project deadlines while working around potential weather constraints
  • Experience working in a wilderness setting, and through complex logistical planning
  • Experience managing crews
  • Expert botanical knowledge of the Sierras and Coast ranges
  • Experience collecting FIA data and/or with an FIA program or CALFIRE/USFS
  • Knowledgeable in forest mensuration techniques
  • Experience troubleshooting and cleaning data
  • US Driver’s License
  • Wilderness First Responder Certified
  • Ability to self-motivate and manage time


Though there is little supervision after training, and you will be able to set your own schedule, you’ll need to maintain our production timelines and be able to work around potential weather constraints. Each person will have an average production quota of 15 plots/month over the season. Below is the general timeline of events:

  • April 24-April 28: Virtual training*
  • May 1- May 5: Field Training*
  • May 8-10: Software/Hardware Training
  • May 13- October 31th: Field Season
  • November 1-November 10: Data editing

During periods of field work, camping will be required. This will in part depend on your production target status. However, you must be willing to stay out in the field for up to 10 days at a time depending on plot completion and goals.

*You will be paid for training. Location of field training is TBD.

Additional Information:
Most of our team are field ecologists/foresters working in 1-3 states yearly. They make approximately $30,000-$80,000 per year working 3-7 months yearly. Winter months are typically spent not working. Ideal candidates will be comfortable spending most of their time traveling/working in the field.  Successful applicants will become federally certified to collect FIA data throughout the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest states.

In your cover letter, please specify you interest and capability for each Area (4-6). We plan on hiring 1 person for each area.

Equal Employment:

Skylight Forestry is committed to providing equal employment opportunities under ADA. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, age, or criminal conviction for which a pardon has been granted, or any other protected category under federal, state, provincial and local laws governing workplace discrimination.

Please email your CV/cover letter to: with subject title “Field Ecologist”

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