Battelle Memorial Institute Lead Temporary Field Technician - NEON Project - D10/13 - Colorado in Boulder, Colorado

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Primary Function

Application Instructions: ONLY apply to the one (1) temporary position and location you would consider as your first choice. During the application process, you will provide additional domains/locations you would be willing to work at if your first choice is not available.

Battelle manages and operates the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project, which is solely funded by the National Science Foundation. A 30+ year project dedicated to understanding how changes in climate, land use and invasive species impact ecology, the observatory’s scientists and engineers are collecting a comprehensive range of ecological data on a continental scale across 20 eco-climatic domains representing US ecosystems. Our teams use cutting-edge technology, including an airborne observation platform that captures images of regional landscapes and vegetation; mobile, relocatable, and fixed data collection sites with automated ground sensors to monitor soil and atmosphere; and trained field crews who observe and sample populations of diverse organisms and collect soil and water data. Once structures are completed, a leading edge cyberinfrastructure will calibrate, store and publish this information. The Observatory includes more than 500+ personnel and is the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales.

We are currently seeking Lead Temporary Field Technicians . These positions are located in Boulder, CO .


Start Date: March-May 2019

End Date: September-November 2019


The Central Plains Domain 10 and a portion of the Southern Rockies & Colorado Plateau Domain 13 are supported by staff based at the D10/13 Domain Support Facility in Boulder, CO. This Support Facility is also co-located with NEON/Battelle headquarters.

The D10/13 office supports field data collection and instrumentation maintenance at 4 terrestrial and 3 aquatic sites. We anticipate hiring approximately 22 Temporary Field Technicians from approximately May through October with interest in performing fauna (i.e., small mammal, beetle, ticks, mosquitoes, soils), flora (i.e., plant diversity, herbaceous biomass, leaf area index, vegetation structure, litterfall, plant phenology), and/or aquatics (i.e., water chemistry, reaeration, discharge, macroinvertebrates, fish, plants, algae, microbes, sediment chemistry) protocols, and/or instrumentation maintenance. Staffing in particular areas will be dependent on past experience, interest, and work needed in the Domain.

D10/13 sites include:

  • Central Plains Experimental Range: a short-grass steppe ecosystem at around 5000 feet, with active cattle grazing just north of Ft. Collins, CO

  • Rocky Mountain National Park: steep and mountainous terrain located on National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Roosevelt National Forest land

  • Sterling: a private agricultural and ranching lands near Sterling, CO

  • Niwot Ridge: high elevation site (over 11,000 feet) and includes high alpine tundra with krummholz and lower elevation evergreen forest. This site is co-located with the University of Colorado Boulder’s Mountain Research Station and Niwot Ridge

  • Como Creek: mountainous stream co-located at the Niwot Ridge site in evergreen forest

  • Arikaree River: prairie stream with ranching operations managed by The Nature Conservancy near Idalia, CO

  • West St. Louis Creek: mountainous stream located in the USFS’s Fraser Experimental Forest.

Weather for these sites is as variable as the terrain. Afternoon thunderstorms and high winds are prevalent at all sites with early- and late-season snowfall and variable temperatures on the alpine tundra and in forested areas. All work requires extensive hiking (up to 6 miles/day), often at high elevations (9000-11000 feet). Prairie sites are dry and experience high mean temperatures with little to no shade cover during the summer months. Mountainous sites host wildlife such as marmots, moose, mountain lions, black bear, elk, mule deer, and a variety of insects. Prairie and agricultural sites allow frequent encounters with cattle, rattlesnakes, pronghorn, prairie dogs, mosquitoes, bees, spiders, poison ivy, and airborne allergens.

Daily schedule depends on assigned crew (fauna, flora, aquatics, or instrumentation), but Temporary Technicians can expect to work non-traditional hours (i.e., early morning, late evening, weekends, overnight trips, 10+ hour work days, occasional overtime). A typical work day for fauna crews conducting mosquitoes or small mammals will have start times as early as 3:00 AM and evening crews ending around 10:30 PM. Flora crews tend to start at 7:00 AM, working four 10 hour days per week. While this position is primarily field-based (90%), Technicians can expect some (10%) laboratory time (i.e., sample processing, mammal trap washing, data QC). Field work also includes a significant amount of driving to/from field sites in company vehicles.

Major Responsibilities

Lead Temporary Field Technicians perform and supervise seasonal and periodic sampling of physical, chemical and biological data at one (1)-five (5) field sites, while exercising good judgement and decision-making abilities to interpret protocol requirements. Lead Temporary Field Technicians are assigned an area of primary responsibility within the scope of data collection: botany, entomology, mammalogy (except Puerto Rico and Hawaii), or limnology (except Hawaii).

Field observations and collection are conducted using approximately 30 different protocols and multiple Standard Operating Procedures with varying schedule requirements based on local ecosystem and current field conditions.

Daily and weekly work schedules will fluctuate. Workdays can be up to twelve hours long and may be split with both morning and evening work, with work, at times, beginning at dawn and going through to dusk. Workweeks can include weekends and occasionally may be up to 12 consecutive days.

Individuals are responsible for their own housing and transportation to primary work location.


  • Performs and supervises field assignments in a variety of conditions (e.g., weather, terrain, diverse assigned biomes, etc.)

  • Provides training to seasonal and temporary field personnel.

  • Follows established, standardized field procedures for sample collection; records data from sample collection; and processes samples.

  • Records activities and completed work according to Field Operations protocol.

  • Follows safety and Field Operations policy and procedures.

  • Reports issues with implementation of procedures and coordinates resolution with manager and technicians.

  • Assists with routine administrative duties, special projects and other duties as assigned.

  • Carries, moves and lifts field supplies (pack weighing up to 40 lbs.) to assigned field site (which involves diverse and uneven terrain).

Position Requirements

  • High School Diploma. May require an Associate's degree or experience as a fully qualified Temporary Field Technician with one (1) – two (2) years of related experience

  • Knowledge of best practices for accurate and repeatable field and laboratory measurements across multiple scientific disciplines. Complex and variable systems require judgment and independent decision-making abilities

  • Technical skills using best practices in field and ability to identify aquatic or terrestrial flora and fauna to genus and species.

  • Due to the limited number of positions in each domain, technicians must be willing and able to learn and perform procedures and methods outside of the primary responsibility.

  • Willingness to perform maintenance and field sampling outdoors in sparsely populated, remote locations, with distances ranging from 1/2 hour to 6 hours from the domain office. Overnight travel, hiking off trail, and wading in water are typical in most locations.

  • Ability and willingness to work varied field operations schedules (up to 12+ hours per day), including split-shift, part-time, pre-dawn early mornings, evenings and weekends.

  • Ability to hike off trail, long distances, on uneven terrain, at remote locations, in all types of weather, carrying packs weighing up to 40lbs.

  • Ability to work on instrument towers ranging in height from 26 feet to 240 feet and at altitudes of up to 11,000 feet (depending on assigned Domain), involving the ability to ascend and descend multiple flights of stairs.

  • Ability to withstand exposure to fumes, dust, and noise. Field work may require frequent exposure to toxicodendrons (e.g. poison ivy and poison oak), ticks, biting insects and other natural hazards.

  • Proficiency with MS Office Suite (e.g., Excel, Word).

  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions.

  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy.

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.

  • Strong work ethic and enthusiasm.

Previous NEON Project field experience will be highly considered

US Citizen or permanent resident only

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