Employment at the VSWS

Thank you for considering employment opportunities with the American Bear Association. We have begun the process of hiring for a  grounds manager and visitor center manager. Please see the job descriptions below.

We are currently hiring for interns and volunteers! Please check out our volunteer or internship programs if you’re interested in getting involved.

Background

Many years ago, a Minnesota logger made a decision that would greatly affect black bears and the attitudes people have towards this often-misunderstood animal. It was then that Vince Shute chose to stop shooting the bears that broke into his cabins. He tried a more peaceful approach and the strategy worked – no more break-ins. Vince claimed, “the bears aren’t mean, just hungry!” Thus, began Vince’s long and celebrated life with black bears in a tiny corner of the north woods near Orr, Minnesota.

 

Generations of black bears still visit his former homestead, now designated as The Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. The American Bear Association (ABA), a non-profit organization, was formed to manage the sanctuary and to promote a better understanding of the black bear through education, observation and experience. The ABA provides an unprecedented opportunity for visitors, educators, and photographers to observe and study black bears at the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary. Through education, the ABA raises awareness of the needs of black bears and promotes increased tolerance and appreciation for this often-misunderstood species.

Operations Manager Job Description 

Position Overview

The Wildlife Operations Manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Sanctuary and Visitor Center in Orr. The manager is the primarily responsible for training interns, volunteers and seasonal employment. The ABA is seeking a highly skilled, passionate and motivated applicant for a full-time, year-round position. Must be able to work safely and efficiently while meeting tight and varying deadlines. This position will ideally begin immediately upon hiring.

Since the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is a unique place, training and equipping the individual that fills this position is a high value and will be given priority. The duties to be performed by the manager will include, but will not be limited to:

General Expectations:

  • Foster an open and inclusive work environment by modeling the ABA values, consistent with the vision, mission and strategic goals of the organization.
  • Demonstrate professional respect, empathy and kindness toward coworkers and volunteers.
  • Educate the public about black bears, ecology, behavior, practical environmental conservation and land stewardship.

General Office Administration:

  • Promptly respond to emails and calls, process online orders and membership packets in a timely manner.
  • Oversee Visitor Center Manager, Grounds Manager and Gift Shop employees.
  • Reports to the Executive Director regarding day to day operations of the Sanctuary
  • Manage On-line Gift Shop, by preparing monthly online sales report and send to accountant.
  • Track income totals into spreadsheet (Donations, attendance, Visitors Center sales, Gift Shop sales and online sales).
  • Assist in purchasing all Gift Shop merchandise, inventory, ticket and display.
  • Work closely with Bear in Mind (BIM) newsletter editor and Executive Director to curate educational content.
  • Produce educational content for Facebook, Instagram followers and email subscribers (www.robly.com).
  • Assist in coordinating ABA special events and groups: Breakfast with the Bears, photo workshops, private photo sessions, large groups, etc.
  • Promote and advertise special fundraisers.
  • Create new educational signs and displays for Visitor Center in partnership with graphic design team.
  • Partner with local schools and nearby towns for outreach programs, expos, town hall meetings, etc.
  • Maintains website and makes updates and edits as needed.
  • Work with vendors, contractors, companies etc. to ensure daily functions of the sanctuary are running smoothly

Sanctuary Responsibilities:

  • Assist in hiring interns, volunteers and staff positions (mostly done in the winter/off-season).
  • Stay in constant contact with interns, volunteers and staff for arrivals and departures. Main point of contact for who is on grounds at any given time.
  • Maintain clear and open communication with staff, interns volunteers and Executive Director.
  • Help educate interns on bear behavior, biology and ecology. Teach seasonal management to educate, lead and supervise 20+ VSWS interns in the areas of sanctuary operations, bear safety and public wildlife education.
  • Help interns research deck talk topics. Observe talks to ensure smooth delivery and accurate information.
  • Oversee intern research projects to ensure safety of bears and interns.
  • Supervise bear feeding regiment and work with  Sanctuary Manager to order food accordingly.
  • Oversee unloading of bear supplies (50-pound bags of seed and 35-pound bags of fruit and nuts).
  • Develop relationships with stores, vendors, and suppliers to obtain cost effective procurement.
  • Ensure daily cleanup of feeding areas and scat removal.
  • Help train interns on Gift Shop: monitor, re-stock and re-order merchandise as needed with Visitor Center Manager.
  • Maintain records and oversee photography of individual bear activity and behavior.

Qualifications
Preference will be given to those with a B. S. degree in Wildlife Biology, Field Biology, Conservation, Wildlife Management or a closely related field and to those who have had at least ONE year of experience in the field and/or have previous management experience.

Ideal candidates should:
• be physically able to be on feet and walk most of the day, lift up to 60 pounds, and bend, stoop, crawl and walk on uneven surfaces.
• understand this is a non-traditional, full-time position requiring a flexible, non-traditional schedule and commitment
• have experience working with and educating the public
• be friendly, outgoing and enthusiastic
• demonstrate a willingness to guide, teach and learn from others, including interns and volunteers
• be proactive with excellent communication skills, note-taking and organizational skills
• be comfortable working alone or with a small team
• effectively manage stress and motivate self and others to overcome obstacles to achieve goals
• multi-task, take direction well, adapt well to constant change, embrace flexibility
• prioritize heavy workloads to achieve goals while keeping up with a highly changing environment
• handle the physical and emotional aspect of work in a rustic setting and have high level of resiliency
• be results-oriented, self-reflective and take responsibility for actions
• have reliable transportation along with a valid driver license
• possess computer literacy and high-level communication skills

The ability to adapt to a variable work schedule is very important. This position requires long days in the field during summer and fall, so a positive attitude, patience, and strong safety consciousness are essential.

Hours and Compensation: Work schedule will generally be 40-60 hours per week from May-October;(on average it is 45 a week during the busy season) however, hours and days worked will be dictated by bear behavior and, therefore, will sometimes require longer days. Work schedule for November-April is typically 32-hour work week. Compensation is salaried starting at 30k and dependent on experience.

Application Procedure: Submit a PDF containing a cover letter, your current resume, and contact information for at least 3 professional references to Catherine Mendez (catherineNmendez@gmail.com) and Bill Lea (bears@dnet.net)

 

 

Sanctuary Coordinator Job Description 

We are seeking highly skilled, passionate and motivated applicants for a seasonal manager position. This position is for a duration 5-6 months, beginning roughly in beginning of May. The actual dates of employment will be identified when a candidate is selected as they are dependent on weather and bear behavior.

The duties to be performed by the sanctuary grounds manager will include, but will not be limited to:

  • Assist in maintaining and managing interns, volunteers and projects throughout the property.
  • Educate, oversee and proactively lead 20+ interns and volunteers daily in feeding of bears, maintaining grounds, buildings, and work areas in a neat, orderly, and quality manner.  Must have an understanding with and willingness to implement risk avoidance leadership at all times.
  • Communicates in a professional matter with the general public, interns, volunteers, and others at all times.  The success of this position reflects on the entire operational team as it strives for the highest quality of programs and education.
  • Help interns research deck talk topics. Observe talks to ensure smooth delivery and accurate information.
  • Assist in overseeing intern research projects to ensure safety of bears and interns.
  • Safely work among wild American Black Bears and ensure that your team does the same.
  • Picking up and/or unloading supplies, including 50-pound bags of seed and 35-pound bags of fruit and nuts. Heavy lifting is often a part of the job and is therefore required.
  • Daily cleanup of feeding areas and scat removal.
  • Keep updated inventory of bear food, order as needed when supplies are low.
  • Preparing and distributing bear food mixtures. Ensuring that each day food is stocked for the next 24 hours.

This position requires weekend and night work. Housing and all meals are included. A company vehicle will be provided for sanctuary use only. Accommodations are somewhat rustic, we have little to no electricity, little running water and phone service and internet are limited.

Qualifications

Ideal candidates should be physically fit, be enthusiastic in learning new skills and techniques, have great problem solving skills, be proactive, have excellent communication skills, note-taking and organizational skills, be comfortable working alone or with a small team, able to effectively manage stress and engage in continuous learning, motivate self, and others to overcome obstacles and achieve goals, have the ability to work well under pressure, and to prioritize and balance sometimes heavy workloads to achieve goals while keeping up with a highly changing environment. The ability to adapt to a variable work schedule is very important. This position requires long days in the field and a flexible schedule, so a positive attitude, patience, and strong safety consciousness are essential. This position is great for those wanting expand their knowledge in large mammals and newly graduates interested in working towards better understanding of bear behavior and peaceful coexistence.

 

Hours and Compensation: Work schedule will generally be 40-55 hours per week;(45 hr weeks average) however, hours and days worked will be dictated by bear behavior and, therefore, will sometimes require longer days. Compensation is salaried and starts at $600/week with a potential for more dependent on experience. Lodging and meals are included.

Application Procedure: Submit a single word document containing a cover letter that explains why you want to work with bears, your current resume and contact information for at least 3 professional references to Catherine Mendez (catherineNmendez@gmail.com) and Bill Lea (bears@dnet.net).

 

Education & Visitor Center Coordinator Job Description

We are seeking highly skilled, passionate and motivated applicants for a seasonal manager position. This position is for a duration of 5-6 months, beginning roughly in mid-May. The actual dates of employment will be identified when a candidate is selected as they are dependent on weather and bear behavior.

Since the Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary is a unique place, training and equipping the individual that fills this position is a high value and will be given priority. The duties to be performed by the manager will include, but will not be limited to:

 

ABA Visitor Center Gift Shop and office administration:

  • General office administration
  • Maintain regular office hours (1 week in office, 1 week on sanctuary grounds)
  • Coordinate ABA events and special projects; i.e. breakfast with the bears, photo workshops, private photo sessions, group visits, etc.
  • Assist in raising awareness and donation that promotes ABA mission statements.
  • Support and assist in planning the educational and fundraising activities of on site or local community events.
  • Work closely with director to develop future educational programs to be run from visitor center.
  • Monitors and develops social media activity and generate daily social media post. Gathers daily content for publications, newsletters, e-news, etc., to educate the public.
  • Managing store finances and reconciling daily receipts
  • Managing On-line Gift Shop
  • Maintaining and oversee visitor center gift shop and employees.

Sanctuary Responsibilities:

  • Participate with three other management staff to educate and lead 20 VSWS interns in the areas of sanctuary operations, bear safety and public wildlife education
  • Picking up and/or unloading supplies, including 50-pound bags of seed and 35-pound bags of fruit and nuts. Heavy lifting is often a part of the job and is therefore required.
  • Daily cleanup of feeding areas and scat removal
  • Preparing and distributing bear food mixtures
  • Maintain records on bear activity and behavior
  • Photograph individual bears for records
  • Educating the public about black bears, ecology, behavior, practical environmental conservation and land stewardship

 

This position requires weekend and night work. Housing and all meals are included. A company vehicle will be provided for sanctuary use only. Accommodations are somewhat rustic, we have little to no electricity, little running water and phone service and internet are limited.

 

Qualifications

Ideal candidates should be physically fit, have experience working with and educating the general public, be enthusiastic in learning new skills and techniques, have great problem solving skills, be proactive, have excellent communication skills, note-taking and organizational skills, be comfortable working alone or with a small team,  able to effectively manage stress and engage in continuous learning, motivate self, and others to overcome obstacles and achieve goals, be able to multi-task, take direction well, adapts well to constant change, have the ability to work well under pressure, and to prioritize and balance sometimes heavy workloads to achieve goals while keeping up with a highly changing environment. The ability to adapt to a variable work schedule is very important. This position requires long days in the field and a flexible schedule, so a positive attitude, patience, and strong safety consciousness are essential. This position is great for those wanting expand their knowledge in large mammals and newly graduates interested in working towards better understanding of bear behavior and peaceful coexistence.

 

Hours and Compensation: Work schedule will generally be 40-55 hours per week (on average 45 hours); however, hours and days worked will be dictated by bear behavior and, therefore, will sometimes require longer days. Compensation is salaried and is dependent on experience. Starting at $500/a week. Rustic lodging and meals are provided.

 

Application Procedure: Submit a single word document containing a cover letter explaining why you would like to work with bears, your current resume and contact information for at least 3 professional references to Catherine Mendez (catherineNmendez@gmail.com) and Bill Lea (bears@dnet.net).