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Apprentice Naturalist Guide Posted Feb 08
Canyonlands Field Institute , Moab, UT
For those new to CFI, this Apprentice Naturalist/Guide training program was developed for outdoor educators wanting to obtain teaching, outfitting, and guiding skills for the desert, mountain, and river environments on the Colorado Plateau. These Naturalist/Guides will spend their first twelve weeks as Apprentice Guides and will benefit from intense mentoring in content about area natural and cultural history — with a focus on Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, surrounding BLM and Forest Service lands and rivers. They will then continue their training throughout the rest of the season as First Year Guides. They will develop basic rafting skills on the Colorado, Green, and San Juan Rivers (Class I-III) and will get a Utah Commercial River Guide license. Most of CFI programs are with youth and school groups with several weeks of open enrollment summer nature camps. CFI also conducts several grant-supported “Guide-in-Training” summer programs for local and Native teens.

Guide responsibilities include working as field instructors in science, history, and the arts, helping with all aspects of field operations, and guiding area river stretches.  Time in the spring — once training weeks are completed — will be spent approximately 80% at Professor Valley Field Camp as instructors with small groups of students or assisting in cooking and operations for a particular week. Apprentices will guide day trips on the Colorado River. Additional time will be 20% in support work (food shopping, cooking, shuttles, teaching material upkeep, and equipment upkeep). Once the Apprenticeship is completed guides will step up to work more extensive trips such as multi-day river trips, tours in the national parks, and mountain Forest Service camps with increasing responsibilities and development as trip leaders and improving curriculum.

From March (training) through mid-June field staff can expect to be out overnight away from town almost three out of four weeks, with one or two weeks out the rest of the time.

Completing the initial season as Apprentice/First Year Naturalist-Guide qualifies you to return to work for CFI at higher pay rates, more river guiding, and more flexible seasons for years to come.

For more information about Utah River Guide licensing see:


College undergrad degree in related field strongly preferred
Available to work position dates (early March through October.) Start date is firm due to intensive private training provided
Previous experience working with youth, outdoor/environmental education and teaching preferred. Familiarity with Colorado Plateau preferred
Minimum of 40-hour Advanced First aid and CPR courses (Wilderness First Responder strongly preferred) current through employment term
Minimum age 21, good driving record to meet vehicle insurance requirements
A physical exam to meet DOT requirements, be able to lift 50 lbs, drive a manual transmission
Secure Motor Vehicle report from home state
Proof of US Citizenship


Apprentices will receive an intern stipend of $200/per two week pay period during the 12-week apprenticeship. Regular employment for first-year naturalist-guides begins June 1st through mid-October. Pay will then be at competitive rates. Some additional training times will be scheduled between late June and late August – covering National Parks, new areas, and river stretches, and trip leadership – and will be compensated at a “training rate” of $25/day. Regular guides can expect to earn approximately $1200-$1600/month plus gratuities to start. Pay increases will take place with increased river guide certifications, familiarity with CFI programs, and leadership abilities.

Free shared co-ed housing is available during Apprenticeship with an hour/week work trade exchange requested. Once Apprenticeship is completed, guides are encouraged to find own housing but the continued rental option will be available at $100 pay period summer through fall. Meals are included while working CFI programs. Fingerprint clearance for Educators, Food Handler’s Course, and initial river guide license from the State of Utah will be at CFI expense.