US Forest Service Partnership Program

Catawba College signs 5 year partnership agreement with National Forests in North Carolina

Catawba Student in Forestry Program

Catawba College is excited to announce a new 5-year partnership agreement with all US Forest Service units in North Carolina - Croatan, Nantahala, Pisgah and Uwharrie National Forests. These four units cover approximately 1 million acres and stretch from mountains to coast, and in-between (the Uwharrie National Forest is only an hour east of campus). National Forests include some of the most visited and iconic spots in North Carolina, such as Sliding Rock, Uwharrie National Recreation Trail, Roan Mountain, Cradle of Forestry and Neusiok Trail.

Students of all majors can participate in this program, with special interest in recreation, GIS, forestry, communications, marketing, IT, conservation, natural resources, archeology, environmental education and more.  This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in starting a career with the Forest Service, its partners, or other federal agencies such as the National Park Service.

Positions and projects can be generated both by Forest Service employees and by students. If a project is approved, a student will go through a hiring process, and become an employee of the College but have a Forest Service mentor. Pay is $15 an hour. Most jobs will require travel to/from the Forest and limited physical labor outdoors, although some may be remote/virtual. Some positions will be posted on the Handshake virtual job board (more details about the Handshake app at the Catawba Career Center)

Current intern Carter Mayhew (2025) works with the Uwharrie National Forest in identifying and collecting GPS data on campgrounds and campsites within the Forest. “The position has been fun and challenging yet rewarding. I immediately got an opportunity to use skills I learned in class to help manage our state’s natural resources. I was paid for time spent outdoors in some of the most beautiful areas of North Carolina while developing professional skills and connections. It was an ultimate win-win experience.”

Catawba Student in Forestry Program safely climbing tree

An additional benefit to this partnership is that qualifying students are eligible for Public Land Corps hiring authority. The Public Land Corps authority is a non-compete hiring authority for Forest Service positions, a benefit that expedites the hiring process for federal positions. The primary requirement is that interns must serve a minimum of 640 hours. The authority enables interns to compete for certain federal positions as if they are already a federal employee and gives them advance notice of open positions. This can really give college grads a leg up in moving into federal government positions. Importantly, other federal agencies may recognize hiring authority such that an intern could gain the 640 hours with the Forest Service, but obtain non-compete authority with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management or other agencies. An intern could work in the Uwharrie National Forest, but more easily gain a position at Yellowstone National Park for instance.

For inquiries, please contact Dr. Andrew Jacobson.

Help manage North Carolina’s precious natural resources and protect our outdoor heritage. Start your adventure!

National Forests in North Carolina - US Forest Service

Learn more about the Buck Project in the Nantahala National Forest, designed to improve or maintain wildlife habitat, species diversity of forest stands, soil and water resources, and forest health through vegetation management and other treatments. Also, find important information about hiking, such as what to bring, where to hike, and other considerations.

Public Hiring Authority

As a student participating in the USFS partnership program, you'll get access to the Public Lands Corp Hiring Authority (PLC). Read more about this program and the hiring process and requirements below:



Contact Dr. Andrew Jacobson, Coordinator of US Forest Service Partnership Program with any questions!