Apprentice Naturalist-River GuideTo Top of Page
For those new to CFI, this training program is
offered Mid March through April 30 (6 weeks) followed by Assistant guide employment through contract season in late October. There will be 3 total weeks of furlough, with two of them scheduled during program break July 18-31 and 1 other week at your choice/request subject to program needs.

We require applicants with previous outdoor/environmental education and teaching experience. You may have some previous river experience or may be new to western whitewater rafting A college undergrad degree in related field is strongly preferred. You are initially be hired as "Apprentices" and will benefit from intensely mentored in western rafting (row and paddle) expeditions, river rescue, leave no trace, commercial camp cooking, vehicle and trailer handling (van and 4 wheel drive manual transmission) as well as our curriculum and lessons for school river and field camp programs and ouradult/family National Park tours and hikes. There will be four multiday river trips as part of the six week Apprenticeship. You will be involved in setting up our Field Camp, some gear repair and learning all of our operations. Start date is firm due to intensive and private training provided. CFI invests heavily in Apprentice training and professional development with the understanding that once trained, they will employed as Assistant Naturalist River Guides for CFI through contract period. CFI makes commitments throughout from late spring through fall to client groups based on having an excellent cadre of instructors. Only those candidates that are fully available to work through October 15 should apply.

Must have prior to start date:

  • Minimum of 40 hour Advanced First aid and CPR courses (strongly prefer Wilderness First Responder)
  • Minimum age 21, good driving record to meet vehicle insurance requirements
  • Physical exam to meet DOT requirements, be able to lift 50 lbs, drive manual transmission.
  • Secure Motor Vehicle report from home state and bring with you.
  • Have proof of Social security number (passport, other)

Apprentices will be exposed to our primary river stretches which will qualify them for paid work after the apprenticeship. Apprentices will receive an intern stipend of $200/per 2 week pay period through regular payroll ($600 total, subject to wage taxes), receive use of bunkhouse in exchange for 1 hour/week work trade service, and will have tent/tipi housing at field camp during programs or free time. Apprentices are provided meals during overnight training trips. Training on all CFI operations, vehicles/driving and teaching lesson plans will be provided. Initial 3 weeks of training will include 1 day off/ week, and 1-2 days off/week thereafter. (Average of 6-8 days off/month; schedules vary as to days of week due to assigned river launch dates that vary each year.During the main season, schedules are firmed up 7 days in advance. Special requests can be considered with notice. Apprenticeship schedule will be available March 1.

During the Apprentice program, CFI to provide scholarships for Westwater River Rescue Workshop, Utah Food Handlers Course, Educator Clearance, as well as "starter" boat rigging kit. CFI to purchase your first Utah River Guide License. Training to include: river paddling, rowing and rigging skills, commercial river operations, food purchasing and cooking, packing food on trips. Topics to include Colorado Plateau ecology, geology, history, native cultures, ethnobotany, regional issues, as well as outdoor education teaching techniques, teaching lessons for river and land based programs for school and adult/family trips, field camp operations including tipis and yurts, boat repair, driving vans, 4wdrive and trailer handling. SEE BELOW FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS ON FIELD JOBS.

REGULAR EMPLOYMENT for ASSISTANT NATURALIST RIVER GUIDES begins May 1 though mid October (with 3 weeks furlough as outlined above for breaks). Pay will start at $75/field day or $7.50 for hourly work. Guides can expect to earn approximately $1000-$1400/month plus gratuities depending on trips booked, your skills and ability to do a variety of tasks and performance based pay raises.

Starting May 1, shared housing will continue to be available to first year guides in exchange for 1 hour/week work trade plus $100 rent/ month (deducted from paycheck) End of year holiday bonus of 5 field days pay will be paid for those who complete full contract term. In addition, $100 travel assistance is provided at vacation break (July) and upon return and at end of season ($300 travel total).


A 450 hour position - April-June and August-October

Operations Assistant will oversee operations, restoration, trail and service projects at CFI’s Professor Valley Field Camp located out of town about 20 miles in a beautiful setting on public lands. Age groups served are elementary, middle and high school students with adult chaperones accompanying each group.

The AmeriCorps Member assists the Director and Field Manager all aspects of camp operations, oversee service and restoration projects, and assist with teaching upon occassion. She/he will be trained to assist and serve as camp cook upon occasion. There would be some warehouse and administrative work in town.

The Member will perform riparian and invasive species removal and trail/fence service projects at Field Camp. He/she will lead student groups in Service Learning lessons and work projects. This job involves a lot of physical labor, as well as a lot of time with kids (mostly middle school), and the ability to work both independently at times and as member of a team. Member will drive 15 passenger vans and manual transmission 4wdrive crew cab. The Member will use hand tools; if chainsaw use will be needed during the season, current certification is required (or training provided. )

A private8x10 canvas tent and cot will be provided while at camp for housing. Meals provided when on programs otherwise you buy own food and use our cook yurt facilities. There is no reliable cell phone reception at the camp. Bunkhouse in town can be used for showers and breaks and the CFI office has internet/computers for use after hours. Please see other details under FIELD JOBS in this section that apply to all CFI field positions. Member needs to provide own transportation to Moab; a car is not required to do the job but will be very handy to get into town and explore on free time. Due to work and facility restrictions, member should not bring a pet.

STIPEND (Living Allowance) $3018.00 over the 10 weeks plus $1250 education award upon completion; CFI will pay return travel assistance of $100 upon completion.

Requirements prior to hire date:

  1. Proof of social security number
  2. CPR- CURRENT, not to expire during term of work
  3. 40 hour Advanced First Aid or better - CURRENT, not to expire during term of work
  4. Good driving record last 3 years, driver license copy and Motor Vehicle Report copy from home state current within two years.
  5. 21 years old
  6. DOT medical exam current within two years

Require high school diploma. Prefer college degree in related field or some college, previous work with children, cleared to work with children, non smoker.

Must have previous experience with hand or trail tools, it is helpful to have either outfitting, logistical or food service experience but not required.

Application process same as for all CFI positions: letter, resume, first aid certifications, references. Email or mail is fine.


April-June and August-October

The Program Internship, will provide exposure to a wide range of adult and student field study programs that CFI conducts in the National Parks, and on Bureau of Land Management, State and Forest Service lands. The intern will be mentored by the Field Manager and gain experience in field teaching, logistical planning, operational support, staff management and program design. CFI programs take on a variety of forms from local day tours in the National Parks, one day and multi day river trips and multiday outdoor school programs at the Professor Valley Field Camp. The intern will work at times under the direction of experienced Trip Leaders. The Intern will be trained to lead on his/her own several day and half day tours for adult and family visitors in the National Parks and surrounding areas. These tours will involve driving vans and hiking short distances.

The intern will be trained about a wide range of topics related to the Colorado Plateau such as natural and cultural history, geology, and regional issues. The intern will also gain skills necessary for safe and effective group management and teaching.


• Become familiar with the mission and programs of CFI.

• Be willing to work with a diverse population of clients and show flexibility with assigned tasks.

• Program Intern will assist CFI Naturalist-Guides in conducting educational outings both for youth/school and adult groups. Specifically the program intern will be trained to promote and conduct half day and day long adult/family weekend tours for visitors in the National Parks. The program intern will be trained to teach our land based environmental education programs at Professor Valley Field Camp with elementary and middle school groups. The intern will assist lead Naturalist-Guides and administrative staff with program registration, and special projects in an office setting (IBM PC computers) and do routine warehouse/repair and food packing tasks. (Note: Program Intern will not be trained to be a Utah River Guide during internship but will assist teaching and camp chores while on trips.)

• A $100 per week salary.

• Shared co-ed employee housing in town; includes kitchen. Meals are on own except while on CFI overnight programs.

• Qualifications require Minimum of 40 hour first aid and CPR training, minimum age of 21 and a good driving record (Motor Vehicle Report required with application.)

• Previous work and clearance to work with youth is required; previous teaching/interpretive experience in any setting is helpful.

Application process same as for all CFI positions: letter, resume, first aid certifications, current Motor Vehicle Report, references.

General Seasonal Employee Info:To Top of Page

Moab, a former uranium boomtown, is located four hours south of Salt Lake City, and eight hours northwest of Albuquerque. Moab is a seasonal tourist town with a diverse population of about 6,000 people that sees up to a million visitors per year. Surrounded by 12,000’ peaks, red-rock canyons, and the Colorado River, Moab is a mecca for outdoor activity. The nearest sizable town Grand Junction, CO population 50,000 is a 1 hour and 45 minute drive by car. This is high desert country, with an elevation of 4,500 ft. Daytime highs range from below 30 to above 110, with nighttime temperatures typically 20-30 degrees cooler. The town has dozens of restaurants, a movie theater, a bookstore, a natural-foods store, and all the basic services. There is no public transportation; a bicycle or car is necessary to get around.

1) Housing: CFI has a small apartment/bunkhouse above our warehouse available March 1 through October. We do provide tent/tipi housing while working at camp. Apprentices/entry guides, Americorps member and interns complete 4 hours of service work/month in exchange for housing. Once Apprentices become regular employees and if they choose to continue to be in CFI housing, they will complete 4 hours of service work/month and pay $100/month towards housing costs (deducted from paycheck). Service work includes upkeep of living quarters or other physical plant work. Guests of guides may stay on limited basis for a fee with occupancy for guides and volunteers as priority. In the bunkhouse, there is one bedroom, open living room space with bunks, and small kitchen and bathroom/shower plus storage space for outdoor gear in warehouse. (Note the $100 month rent does not apply to interns.) If you plan to rent in town, estimate $350/bedroom/month or thereabouts, there are also commercial campgrounds if you have a camp trailer, etc. It is not practical to plan on "camping out" for your entire 8 months especially when it gets hot and the knats come out! Guest are welcome on programs with advance approval, registration and payment of guest fees.

2) Pets are not allowed on CFI programs; we discourage you bringing a pet for your seasonal work period unless you have housing/care arranged for it.

3) Schedules are firmed up 7 days in advance. Due to government assigned launch dates that can be any day of week for certain river stretches, our apprentice, training and program schedule does not follow a M-F pattern. Guides are asked to remain flexible during their season of employment due to sometimes last minute group size changes. Guides work approximately 22-24 days month depending on skill level and familiarity with our trails and rivers. Approximately 2 of these days will be "standby" i.e. you are expected to be available for day tour or shuttle work if available but will not be paid for the day unless there is booking/need. You will have 24 hours notice for the standby days. We think adequate rest is critical for peak and safe performance and thus avoid "back to back" trips for guides except in emergency situations.

4) Values/lifestyle: Please note that CFI chooses to operate "on nature’s terms" in unplugged environments without cell phones or radios. We do provide training on rescue and evacuations and stress experience, maturity and good judgement in our selection of trip leaders. For the sake of providing healthy lifestyle role models, we operate in non-smoking environments. No alcohol is allowed on student trips and on adult/family trips is allowed only in camp in moderation. No illegal drug use is tolerated. Couples may be hired but are usually scheduled to work on different trips with some mutual time off arranged. We encourage honest, tactful communication and respectful interactions with participants and co-workers.

5) Incentives Travel assistance is provided for returning guides up front and for new guides and interns upon subsequent departures and returns. There may raises for exceptional work. There is a completion award for completing length of season. CFI provides scholarships to Westwater River Rescue Workshop for new guides. River equipment may be used by employees during program break in July and in winter months.


A former uranium boomtown, Moab is located four hours south of Salt Lake City, and eight hours northwest of Albuquerque. The nearest sizable town, Grand Junction, CO population 50,000, is a 1 hour and 45 minute drive by car. This is high desert country, with an elevation of 4,500 ft. Daytime highs range from below 30 to above 110, with nighttime temperatures typically 20-30 degrees cooler. The town has dozens of restaurants, a movie theater, a bookstore, a natural-foods store, and all the basic services. There is no public transportation; a bicycle or car is necessary to get around.

For more info about Moab, visit

CFI’s goal is to help ensure a sustainable future for the Colorado Plateau through education; our primary audiences are children, teachers, writers, and students. CFI’s programs teach natural science, history, backcountry and river skills, civics, and communications. Programs take place on public land all over Southeast Utah, and on the Dolores, Green, San Juan, and Colorado rivers.

CFI teaches an average of 5000 participant days per year in program services. The annual operating budget of the Institute is approximately $300,000; 80% in tuition and 20% through public support. CFI employs approximately 3 year round staff and 6-10 seasonal staff including interns and apprentices.

We do offer a broad range of program experiences in a variety of locations. Our instructor-guides are never "bored" with routines; you will find your work with CFI stimulating in terms of co-worker, guest faculty, training and varied geographical and teaching settings. We seek people with positive, mature attitudes, willing to do what it takes to make the business hum.

You will become familiar with many aspects of running a small business that specializes in nature tourism and youth education in back country settings. Once you work a full season, you are well-positioned for future "best" teaching/guiding opportunities and leadership positions with us.

Additional Benefits:

  1. New guides receive complimentary registration in three day Westwater River Rescue Workshop early in April and receive certificate of completion. Extensive training program for new guides in CFI river and land operation and opportunity to shadow experienced instructors.
  2. CFI and gear use gift certificates ( issued following completion of contract and remaining in good standing; and at least 50 days employment; CFI certificates can be used for first aid and other courses or given to friends; gear use certificate towards off season river gear rental)
  3. Pro deals for selected outdoor gear manufacturers; employee must be employed during month to order and follow established protocols and calendar for ordering (orders for employee only, not friends).
  4. Opportunity to represent CFI at public relation or professional conference or make contact with schools, may be at own expense or some assistance provided depending on circumstance.
  5. Professional recommendations for future employment or graduate school (latter requires small processing fee; job references are gratis)

Utah Division of Parks and Recreation/River Running in Utah
Moab office: 435-259-3750; Salt Lake City office: 801-538-7220 To Top of Page

Please note that CFI is smoke and tobacco free workplace which includes all property, buildings, vehicles and camps. Canyonlands Field Institute is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, marital status, religion or physical disability. Reasonable accommodation will be made for physical disabilities. To Top of Page

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Public Relations Intern: Seasonal

Fall 2010 Public Relations internship filled. Accepting applications for spring, 2011.

Lead Naturalist/River Guide: Seasonal with experience and Utah license. Accepting applications for regular employment for late March 2010 start date through October 31. For returning CFI guides with current Utah River Guide license and medical certifications.

Also accepting applications for guest river guide and camp cook work per trip, must already have current Utah River Guide license, familiar with CFI stretches of river and current medical certificates.

Apprentice Naturalist-River Guide/Assistant guide: Seasonal. 2010 Apprentice/Assistant Guide positions are filled.

Please apply for 2011 by December 15

(mid March through mid-October work contract)

For anyone new to CFI, our stretches of river, operations and curriculum, we ask you take the six week Apprentice training program which would be followed by employment as Assistant Naturalist-River Guide.

You must have completed medical certifications by time of application or proof of enrollment in course to finish by March 16. See description for details.


Field Camp Operations assistant/ camp cook


Accepting Applications for Fall

position: August 16 -October 31

State Host is Utah Conservation Corps but APPLY DIRECTLY TO CFI by email or mail.

Program Intern



for spring, 2011.

Application Process

Seasonal Employee Info

Our Web site provides the most extensive and up-to-date information available.
Application Process: To Top of Page
To apply, submit the following by mail (not electronically please):

1. Cover letter
2. Resume
3. Three references with email addresses and telephone numbers
4. Photocopy of current certifications and driver's license and motor vehicle report current within 1 year

Please see specific job descriptions, may have additional requirements for application.

Submit to: Personnel
Canyonlands Field Institute
Box 68 Moab, UT 84532

Periodically CFI evaluates hiring needs. You will be contacted if you are selected for an interview. If we don't have current or permanent openings, we will keep your resume on file for up to two years.
Please do not call. Contact us by

Public Relations Internship (Seasonal)To Top of Page
This is a 12-14 week internship in development (fund raising) and program marketing. Gain valuable experience that will help you build your resume for work with non-profit organizations! Available spring and fall. A $100.week stipend provided. Shared co-ed housing in exchange for 8 hours/month work-trade service in addition to internship hours. Intern provides own meals (small shared kitchen available) except when on CFI programs. Internship work is based on 55 days of work, primarily office based but does include up to 10 days in the field assisting with youth or adult programs. Minimum age is 21 due to vehicle insurance requirements. Return travel stipend paid for successful completion. A vehicle is not required for intern duties but is highly desirable to obtain supplies and enjoy the Moab area.

The internship teaches all aspects of public relations (marketing and fundraising) at a small non-profit: event management, donor identification and data base record keeping, membership appeals, program marketing and sales, grant research and writing; obtaining sponsorships, online newsletter production, some "front desk" reception experience and some general office duties.

Become familiar with the mission and programs of CFI.

Complete or help complete one major project. Depending on the season, this may be a major event, print, internet or video project, fund appeal, or other by mutual agreement. The work generally includes about 50% office/administrative tasks, 30% creative and technical writing, 10% analytical and critical thinking, 10% physical work (such as assisting field staff or maintenance or driving shuttles.) The intern will have the opportunity to go on a CFI river trip, assist with Professor Valley Field Camp and hike in Arches National Park.

Here's what a former intern had to say about his experience with CFI:

"I completed the Public Relations internship at CFI in the fall of 2005. The internship was a comprehensive introduction to the world of non-profit administration, as well as a deeply satisfying immersion in the natural history and landscape of the Colorado Plateau. Overall, it was a hugely valuable and enjoyable experience that left me well prepared to contribute to the non-profit organizations I have worked with since my time in Moab.

From day one, it was clear that nothing I was to contribute to CFI would be wasted. Karla immediately put me in charge of a meaningful and challenging project: conducting a fundraising drive to underwrite the cost of an upcoming middle school's visit to Professor Valley. The practical context of everything I did at CFI created an atmosphere of ownership and responsibility that pushed me to carefully craft and refine everything I submitted.

Looking back on the body of work I created at CFI, I can see the evidence of Karla's guidance on phrasing, framing and structure. It is to this literature, and the advice she gave me during my internship, that I turn to now when I am writing membership drive letters, grant proposals, and newsletter articles for the School Garden Project.

More than the specific projects I worked on, I remember a quality of life that came with the internship. I never felt stuck in the office: my CFI experience involved staff rafting trips through Westwater Canyon, driving shuttles on the river road, and gaining a deeper knowledge of the natural and cultural history of Arches and Canyonlands. My internship certainly met my expectations. I would highly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in gaining first-hand experience working with a small, eco-tourism oriented non-profit.

Sincerely, Jared Pruch, Executive Director, The School Garden Project of Lane County"

Lead Naturalist/River Guide (Seasonal) To Top of Page

Our field season runs late March through late October.

During this season there are 3 weeks non paid furlough (2 weeks are scheduled July 16-31, 1 other week personal leave at your request and depending on work priorities.) This position is for those with previous CFI experience and current licenses. During the summer break you can visit family, hike in the mountains or do guest guide work locally in Moab.

NOTE: We do not have "summer jobs" due to extensive training in late March and early April that qualifies you to work April through October.

Naturalist- River Guides work primarily with middle and high school field study groups, and a few adult or family trips. Staff will rotate between river and land-based programs (including our 5-day residential field school camp). Naturalist/Guides rotate responsibilities in all aspects of field operations primarily as field instructors in science, history and arts. They will work as licensed Utah river guides. CFI guides take a turn in driving, river camp cook, shuttle driver and light maintenance work in the river and camp operations. Experienced staff contribute to curriculum, operation improvements and materials. River stretches range from Class I-III (mostly Class II) on the Colorado, Dolores, Green and San Juan. Emphasis on experiential/participatory learning, thematic interdisciplinary studies, and fun!! Guides must be available for work during our season; schedules firmed 7 days in advance.


  • Minimum age is 21due to vehicle insurance requirements.
  • Minimum first aid training for full guide positions is a 40 hour equivalent to Advanced First Aid (Red Cross Emergency Response, Wilderness Advanced First Aid taught by various providers) and CPR, OR "BETTER" i.e. Wilderness First Responder, EMT, etc. taught by various providers. Pay increments are paid for WFR and above. Please see CFI website/medical training for any course we might be sponsoring with national teaching organization, do a web site search for courses or call your local Red Cross or college for courses near you.
  • Must have current Utah river guide licensing and qualified to run Class I white water. and are familiar with our field camp operations, lessons and the stretches of river that we run: Colorado River from Loma, CO to Moab, UT; the San Juan River from Bluff to Clay Hills, and the Green River from Crystal Geyser to Mineral Bottom (Labyrinth Canyon).

Those who are new to CFI are asked to complete the six week Apprenticeship first and would move on to work as Assistant Naturalist-River Guides in their first year. See below for contacting State of Utah Parks and Recreation on guide licenses. Guides must have previously run a stretch of river in order to qualify for fully paid work; opportunities to see new stretches may be provided on scheduled training trips, as a non paid support boat or on own with approved use of CFI equipment.

Lead Naturalist- River Guides are required to complete and submit prior to start date:

a Department of Motor Vehicle Record from state issuing driver license current within two years and valid driver license. Medical exam must be current within two years.


  • current medical certificates (first aid and CPR).
  • proof of social security number
  • Utah River Guide current license , current CPR and first aid certifications (CHECK THE DATES!)
A pay rate is determined for each person for each season depending on education, experience with CFI and other similar organizations, certifications, and leadership capability. Pay for guides ranges from $80 to $120 "field days" overnight or long "1 day" trip. Guides are paid for rigging, warehouse, office and curriculum work on an hourly basis ($8-$12 hour). Guides are NOT paid for training for new stretches of river, trails or lessons. There will be no housing available other than while at Field Camp. See below on notes about renting in town. Please note that the school trips usually do not provide guide gratuities but adult/family trips often do.

or call: 800.860.5262 or 435.259.7750