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FIELD RESEARCHER Inwood Social Assessment

Job Type: full-time temporary position

Location: New York

Posting Date: 8 Jul 14

Closing Date: 7 Oct 14

Natural Areas Conservancy
with the NYC Urban Field Station

Inwood Social Assessment
New York, NY

The Natural Areas Conservancy seeks a Field Researcher to conduct fieldwork for the Inwood Social Assessment. This year, an interdisciplinary team of land managers and researchers from the Natural Areas Conservancy, working with the NYC Urban Field Station partners (US Forest Service and NYC Parks) will build off of citywide social and ecological assessments of natural areas to conduct a more in-depth study of Inwood Hill Park and its surrounding neighborhoods. This Assessment uses mixed research methods to explore how communities perceive, value, use, and care for natural areas and open spaces in the area. It is being conducted concurrently with an ecological assessment of Inwood’s forest canopy health, risk potential, and value. The social and biophysical data collected will together form the foundation of a canopy management plan for the park.
Field methods for the social assessment will include field observation, photographic documentation, and brief interviews with community members encountered in the field. These data will be triangulated with additional methods, including potentially key informant interviews, focus groups, surveys, and existing social-demographic data. Data and findings will be used to inform and improve management and programming of Inwood’s natural areas and forest edge, and to better engage communities, support civic stewardship, and enhance the social and cultural values of natural areas.
New York City, sometimes depicted as a city of brick and concrete, is also a city with an expansive park system full of lush green spaces and vibrant waterways. A third of city parkland is identified as natural forests and wetlands. These natural areas are vital to sustaining air and water quality, as well as to the formation of neighborhood identity, increased property values, and recreational opportunities. Natural areas are as essential to the survival and flourishing of New York as the built environment.
The Natural Areas Conservancy was founded in 2012 to advance the restoration and conservation of natural areas for a resilient and healthy New York City. We participate in a public-private partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) to expand and advocate for the management of the City’s 10,000 acres of forests and wetlands. The Natural Areas Conservancy is vital in raising additional resources to promote citywide efforts for resiliency and conservation, conducting applied research, and increasing the long-term sustainability of forests and wetlands.
The New York City Urban Field Station, a partnership between the USDA Forest Service and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, seeks to improve the quality of life in urban areas by conducting and supporting research about social-ecological systems and natural resource management. Efforts focus on promoting natural resource stewardship and ecological literacy within New York City, as well as conducting comparative research that can be shared across a network of urban areas in the United States and beyond.
The Field Researcher will:
• Conduct site observations of Inwood Hill Park, including:
o detailed observations of human activity, social clustering, and evidence of human use with written, qualitative group debriefs
o Conduct brief on-site interviews with adult park users.
o Document site conditions with digital photography
• Conduct research about Inwood Hill Park and neighborhood, via a range of methodologies, potentially including:
o Analysis of existing social-demographic datasets (e.g census, land use)
o Key informant interviews with park managers, civic stewards, key users
o Focus groups / community meetings
o General population surveys
• Coordinate with the other field research assistants to manage daily logistics, streamline and collaborate on data collection, and troubleshoot in the field.
• Coordinate with Forest Service research supervisors and project manager to organize, code, and analyze data at regular intervals.
• Communicate regularly with NYC Urban Field Station researchers on progress and challenges.
• Current student working toward graduate degree (masters or PhD) in Environmental Management, Environmental Science, Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Community Development, Sociology, Geography, Social Work
• Experience in qualitative and quantitative social science research methods
• Desire to work in diverse and dynamic urban environments
• Ability to problem-solve in the field
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills
• Strong organization and orientation skills (map-reading, street savvy, GIS familiarity a plus)
• Driver’s license valid in New York State
• Flexible schedule—see below
• August 2014-December 2014
• 10-15 hours per week
• schedule occasionally includes evenings and weekends during field data collection
FIELD RESEARCH ASSISTANTS will begin training and orientation in August, with fieldwork beginning immediately afterward
• $18/hour
To apply, please submit a letter of interest, a resume, and list of three references to:
Application review begins 7/18/2014. Position open until filled.


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