Program Instructor

  • Job Tracking ID: 512617-709577
  • Job Location: Diablo Lake, WA
  • Job Level: Entry Level (less than 2 years)
  • Level of Education: Any
  • Job Type: Temporary
  • Date Updated: November 04, 2019
  • Years of Experience: Up to 2 Years
  • Starting Date: February 17, 2020

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Job Description:


Based out of the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center in North Cascades National Park, the Program Instructor position functions as a member of the North Cascades Institute’s program instructional team. This position primarily supports the Mountain School program in the spring and fall, and may assist with other Institute programming throughout the 10-month season. The ideal candidate is a creative, energetic, professional, motivated, cooperative team player willing to have fun. They possess a strong work ethic with motivation to grow professionally as an instructor and as a key staff member of a mission-driven organization.

This is a paid, full-time, seasonal position starting February 17, 2020 and ending December 15, 2020, with a summer furlough from June 6th through August 30th. There is a possibility of summer employment with North Cascades Institute summer programs based on interest, experience, and need. Program Instructors should expect to work five days (approximately 40 hours) each week, some of which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays, though mostly during the school week in the spring and fall.



The work location for the Program Instructor is at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. The Learning Center is located in the heart of the North Cascades National Park near Diablo, WA, and serves as a hub for a small network of trails along the shores of Diablo Lake. This region of North America has been inhabited by native tribes for over 9,000 years and continues to be a meaningful location for thousands of visitors each year. Opened in 2005, the Learning Center is a collaboration between North Cascades Institute, the National Park Service, and Seattle City Light, the public utility that owns and operates the hydroelectric project that includes Diablo Lake and provides electricity to the residents of Seattle. The Learning Center is approximately 20 miles from the nearest gas station and post office, and 60 miles from towns with full amenities.



Mountain School Programs (Spring and Fall)

Mountain School is the Institute’s primary school based education program. It is a nationally recognized residential environmental education program serving approximately 2700 elementary and middle school students annually. Students spend three days and two nights at the Learning Center hiking under towering trees, exploring terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and learning about the rich natural and cultural history of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Program instructors lead trail groups of students primarily from fifth grade classrooms, facilitating a safe, hands-on, outdoor learning experience.


Summer employment opportunities in these program areas will be advertised in February, 2020.

Adult & Family Programs (Year-round)

During the summer months, NCI provides opportunities for adults and families to explore the wonders of the North Cascades together, including Family Getaways, Base Camp, Adult Classes, and conferences and retreats. The majority of NCI programs take place at the Learning Center campus. Instructors deliver hands-on activities and lessons that engage generations of participants.

Conferences and Retreats (Year-round)

The Environmental Learning Center is the perfect place to host group events such as educational retreats, meetings, conferences and celebrations of all kinds. Guests enjoy the lodges, delicious, locally sourced meals and daily field trips led by Instructors. Proceeds from these revenue generating programs directly support youth education.

Skagit Tours (Summer & Early Fall)

Skagit Tours provides participants with an inside look at the relationship between humans and the landscape of the upper Skagit River. Participants embark on a tour of the region by bus and boat, learning about the natural history, hydroelectric projects, early European settlement, and pre-contact use of the landscape. Tours range from 1-5 hours long.

Youth Leadership Adventures (Summer)

Youth Leadership Adventures provides high school students with introductory wilderness experiences in the North Cascades through 8 and 12-day outdoor leadership and environmental education expeditions. During each course, students learn to canoe and/or backpack, develop their leadership styles, practice public speaking skills, participate in service projects, and learn about climate science and North Cascades natural and cultural history.



Program Instruction & Delivery (80%)

  • Create a physically and emotionally safe learning environment for students
  • Design and implement program lessons with clear learning objectives including lessons in natural and cultural history, science, the arts, and other subjects
  • Lead program participants on trail hikes, often on uneven, hilled terrain
  • Help deliver Mountain School student orientations
  • Assist in other Learning Center program areas as needed

Program Support and Administration (15%)

  • Regularly report on programming activities and field issues/concerns to appropriate Program Coordinator
  • Participate in all scheduled program trainings including check-ins with supervisor
  • Engage in self-guided research into relevant natural history topics
  • Participate in peer observations and feedback.
  • Complete tasks within designated Stewardship Area, including maintaining and managing inventory of program educational materials
  • Function as Camptender for Mountain School, as needed

General (5%)

  • Manage, respond to, and report any risk management incidents
  • Support and actively contribute to the Institute’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives
  • Participate in Learning Center staff meetings and weekly community work parties
  • Provide ELC facilities, housekeeping, and kitchen staff with occasional light duty support
  • Support marketing and registration to promote enrollment
  • Other duties as assigned



  • The location is remote, in the forested mountains of the North Cascades ecosystem, and is home to many forms of wildlife - flora and fauna that require knowledgeable and responsible cautionary behavior. Employees are required to use appropriate safety equipment and follow standard safety practices
  • Weather can vary from hot and dry to cold, rainy, and snowy. Candidates must be able to use personal outdoor equipment to prevent exposure to elements
  • The position requires occasional travel by car to other worksites or meeting places
  • Working hours occasionally include evenings, weekends, and overtime



  • Sit, stand, dance, talk, yell, sing, and hear, use hands and fingers to operate field equipment; reach with hands and arms
  • Job duties are often carried out while hiking over uneven terrain with participants
  • Field days can be long
  • Candidates must be able to lift, load, pack, and carry teaching materials and field equipment in excess of 30 pounds



February 17, 2020



February 17, 2020 - December 15, 2020 (with summer furlough June 6, 2020 - August 30, 2020)



Please apply online on our website at:

Complete the online application and upload a cover letter and resume.


Application deadline is November 14, 2019 (priority; open until filled)

North Cascades Institute is committed to building a culturally diverse workplace and strongly encourages applications from candidates who are persons of color. We believe that having a diverse staff that reflects the communities we serve is essential to providing culturally inclusive programs.



Recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce is a high priority at North Cascades Institute. The Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, military, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, age, citizenship or any other basis prohibited by law in any of its policies or programs.



The Institute’s mission is to inspire and empower environmental stewardship for all through transformative educational experiences in nature. Since 1986 we have helped connect people, nature and community through science, art, literature and the hands-on study of natural and cultural history. Our goal is to help people of all ages and backgrounds experience and enjoy the mountains, rivers, forests, people and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest - so all will care for and protect this special place. The Institute is committed to innovation and excellence in environmental learning and leadership in the nonprofit community. We believe that sustainable communities are built on healthy environments, vibrant economies, and social equity.

North Cascades Institute ( is a respected, national leader among U.S. environmental education organizations. The Institute is in sound financial health with a $4 million budget and strong reserves and more than a decade of Four-Star ratings with Charity Navigator. The Institute was also voted "Best Place to Work" in 2013 Bellingham Alive- Best in the Northwest Annual readers’ poll. This is a wonderful opportunity to join North Cascades Institute at a time of exciting growth.


Experience and Skills:


  • Ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and ages
  • Enthusiasm for learning and teaching about the natural world
  • Previous experience in instructional roles
  • Good judgment, flexibility and ability to work independently and reliably
  • Current Wilderness First Responder (preferred) or Wilderness Advanced First Aid certification upon date of hire
  • Ability to lift and carry 30 pounds
  • Ability to talk and instruct while hiking over uneven terrain
  • Ability to work flexible hours including evenings and weekends
  • Ability to work and live in a small, rural community
  • Final offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check that may include employment history, national criminal background check, national sex offender registry search and a driving history check



  • Working collaboratively with individuals from different identity groups, including historically excluded groups
  • Teaching elementary and middle school youth, as well as working with teachers and parent chaperones
  • Employing different teaching methods and styles to accommodate different audiences and learning styles
  • Developing lesson plans
  • Leading wilderness programs and associated risk management protocols
  • Creating identify-safe learning environments
  • Inquiry-based teaching and learning
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in related field
  • Knowledge of basic scientific principles and how to teach them
  • Knowledge of the North Cascades natural and cultural history



Successful candidates will have a commitment to the mission of North Cascades Institute and the organization’s effort to promote diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the Institute’s culture, work and partnering relationships to ensure that the Institute and its programs are welcoming, relevant and accessible.

Job Benefits:


This is a temporary/seasonal, full-time, non-exempt position, eligible for overtime pay. The wage ranges from $13.75 per hour to $14.25 per hour (based on experience, relevant medical training, and language skills) and benefits include sick leave and holiday pay.

Housing can be provided for the duration of the position for $300/month for a private room. Housing is either at the Environmental Learning Center or in the neighboring town of Marblemount. Meals are provided when programs are in session; otherwise, staff are responsible for providing their own food. Program Instructors are responsible for their own health insurance. Given the remote location, personal transportation is required. Pets and smoking are not allowed in housing, during programs, or on the Institute’s campus.