Summer Counselor Naturalist

Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center
Jobs - Part Time & Seasonal
Wisconsin Dells, W

Position Description

Summer Counselor Naturalist


Cooperative Extension Vision: Wisconsin’s educational network for engaging people and their communities in positive change.

Cooperative Extension Mission: Through the University of Wisconsin-Extension, all Wisconsin people can access university resources and engage in lifelong learning, wherever they live and work.

Primary Position Location: University of Wisconsin-Extension Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, Wisconsin Dells, WI


Type of Appointment: This is an ad hoc appointment in the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s division of Cooperative Extension. Ad hoc appointments are typically made on a part-time or temporary basis to provide essential program or unit coverage on a short-term basis which means that ad hoc appointments are not eligible for benefits through the Wisconsin Retirement System.


Purpose and Primary Focus of Position: The Upham Woods summer counselor naturalists are the primary programmatic personnel for Upham Woods in the summer season. In that regard this position is responsible for teaching the summer camp and recreational activities for user groups, interacting with 4-H Youth educators and adult volunteers, and care for programmatic, outpost and recreational, equipment which includes the science center animals. Additionally the summer counselor naturalists may sometimes be called upon to lead off and onsite adventure-type programs. All of the above is to be done with a focus on customer service and effective educational methods in a safe environment.


Primary Duties/Essential Job Functions:

  • Prepare for and teach the Upham Woods summer activities using center class guidelines and overall format. Make adjustments to activity content, length, focus, etc. as needed based upon audience, clientele needs, environmental concerns, etc.
  • Facilitate an overall positive clientele experience. This includes providing program support for summer camp programming created by county groups. Lead programming and provide logistical support for statewide open enrollment summer camps
  • Provide overnight support to camp groups in cabins
  • Lifeguard water activities in the Wisconsin River offered only during summer camp programming including swimming in the designated swimming beach, water Olympics, and beach activities on Blackhawk Island. 
  • Lifeguard canoeing and kayaking programs on the Wisconsin River
  • Provide leadership and instruction to summer youth counselors attending camp
  • Provide leadership and instruction of off and onsite outpost adventure-type activities offered only in the summer. This includes but is not limited to: swimming, paddling, hiking, archery, team-building programs, outpost adventure camping, field games. Provide care and food for the science center animals
  • Maintain summer outpost program equipment, including inventory tracking and cleaning of equipment (i.e. tents, cooking gear, sleeping pads, stoves, etc.)
  • Maintain equipment and projects associated with digital technologies.
  • Organize and report observations of summer camp group activities such as all camp games, field games, arts and crafts, outpost programs,
  • Provide assistance to the other departments for the safe and effective operation of the center
  • Provide emergency support to groups while onsite, as needed


Administrative Relationships: This position is directly accountable to the Program Director and jointly supervised by the Program Director and Facility and Operations Director on all work matters.


Program Relationships: This position primarily works with 4-H youth and youth leaders of our summer camping season and with youth and youth leaders of our additional retreat group programs. This position cooperates with and communicates to all other Upham personnel. As such, a positive working relationship with others is a condition of this position.


Required Qualifications:

  • Lifeguard Certification.  On site certification course may be provided as part of staff training.
  • Ability to work in a team setting with enthusiasm and creativity
  • Ability to be a positive member of our team environment
  • The desire to lead recreational and environmental education activities to Upham user groups
  • Ability to hike at least three miles on uneven terrain in a wide variety of temperatures and environmental conditions
  • Ability to lift and carry 50 pounds
  • Ability to carry out duties of the position while abiding by the naturalist position expectations
  • Familiarity with outdoor adventure pursuits and their associated equipment, such as hiking, camping, canoeing, etc.
  • CPR and First Aid certification. On site certification course may be provided as part of staff training.
  • Ability to work independently
  • A general understanding of the field of summer camps, environmental education, natural resources, education and youth development
  • Experience working with youth in an educational setting
  • Ability to handle reptiles and amphibians in a presentation setting
  • Ability to work flexible hours any day of the week including some evening hours
  • Applicant must be able to pass a standard criminal background check
  • Understanding of computers and commonly used programs such as Word and internet searching



Preferred Qualifications:

  • Advanced First Aid and CPR certifications
  • Professional certifications in any of the activities which we commonly offer, such as archery, ropes challenge course, canoe, etc.
  • Knowledge base strong enough to take responsibility for one of the specialization areas. Specialization areas include but are not limited to: waterfront activities, archery, program animals, team-building challenge course, technology, marketing and social media, and facility improvement
  • Ability to teach environmental issues with a positive and open approach
  • A general understanding of low impact camping techniques
  • Applicants must have obtained at least a sophomore standing in college or equivalent
  • Ability to effectively communicate environmental concepts to youth and youth leaders
  • A clean driving record
  • Knowledge and ability to handle birds of prey in a presentation setting



For More information about Upham Woods go to:


How to Apply:

Please email cover letter, resume, and three references to Max Myers, Program Director, and Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center.


Equal Opportunity: As an affirmative action employer, UW-Extension provides equal opportunity in programs and employment. UW-Extension does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, creed, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, marital status, arrest record or non-program related conviction record. Employment is contingent upon establishment of identity and verification of employment eligibility as required by the Immigration Reform & Control Act of 1986.