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Freshwater Mussel Technician

Xerces Society Inc
Portland, Oregon (US)
Closing date
Apr 7, 2024

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Conservation science
Salary Type
Employment Type
Temporary / Seasonal

JOB TITLE: Freshwater Mussel Technician


LOCATION: Portland, Oregon. Majority of work sites located in central Oregon, with additional travel to sites in Washington state.


COMPENSATION: $22 per hour;


JOB TERM: Start date of approximately June 3, 2024. Term of employment is approximately 4 months after the expected start date.


STATUS & SCHEDULE: Seasonal, hourly non- exempt position, scheduled to work ~ 40 hours/week.





All applications must be submitted via our application website at:

We are committed to creating a more diverse workforce that is welcoming to all employees and the communities we engage. As part of the application process, please be prepared to answer a brief essay question (1,000 characters or less) in which you describe any opportunities or experiences you have had working or collaborating in diverse, multicultural settings, and/or any actions you might take to help make a work setting be more inclusive for everyone.


Xerces provides accommodations for the job application process if needed. If you need an accommodation to complete the job application process, please email




Come join a team of conservation professionals at the Xerces Society who are dedicated to protecting some of the world's most important animals. We are seeking an experienced, seasonal, full-time technician to support our freshwater mussel conservation program and assist with mussel sampling and data analysis during the 2024 field season in Oregon and Washington.

At Xerces, we work to protect rare and endangered species and their habitat. Our methods focus on habitat conservation planning, education, scientific analysis, advocacy, and applied research to conserve invertebrates, such as bees, butterflies, mollusks, and fireflies.




The position will consist mainly (95%) of conducting fieldwork in rivers and streams throughout Oregon and Washington, which will require the employee to drive a vehicle from their location to field sites. The majority of field sites are located in central Oregon. Duties will be primarily focused on surveying for freshwater mussels in central Oregon, with additional duties to support research and conservation efforts elsewhere in Oregon and Washington. Data collection will require snorkeling and wading in order to conduct visual and tactile surveys for freshwater mussels. The position will report to the Xerces Society's Freshwater Mussel Program Lead (Portland, OR office) and work in collaboration with other Endangered Species team staff and federal, tribal, and state land management and wildlife agencies.


The successful candidate must have prior experience snorkeling and be able to swim, carry 30 pounds using a backpack, walk over uneven terrain, and be comfortable working long hours in the field as part of a team. Prior experience collecting and identifying freshwater mussels and driving unimproved roads in remote areas is preferred. Applicants with wilderness first aid and/or swift-water rescue certifications is also preferred. Successful candidates will be required to pass an in-water safety training, including a swim test, upon hiring.




Working as a team with the Xerces Society Endangered Species Program staff, the successful applicant will:

  • Assist with fieldwork in a crew of 2-4 people.
  • Conduct surveys for freshwater mussels, by snorkeling or wading in rivers and streams of variable sizes.
  • Complete in-water safety training.
  • Collect, record, and report data from paper forms and field notes, including completing data entry using electronic spreadsheets.
  • Communicate with public land managers about the project and coordinate survey access, and work respectfully with private landowners and public agency staff while surveying on or near their property.
  • Hike off-trail up to 2 miles through dense vegetation or on steep slopes if necessary to access sites.
  • Participate in multi-day overnight travel and camping at remote field sites Monday through Friday during the period of employment.
  • Navigate and drive to field sites on unimproved roads and through use of a GPS unit or mapping application.
  • Follow all applicable Xerces Society policies, including those related to overnight and remote fieldwork and in-water fieldwork.



  • Experience conducting aquatic fieldwork in remote locations.
  • Prior experience snorkeling.
  • Ability and willingness to work collaboratively with other Xerces Society staff members and with a wide variety of partners, stakeholders, and diverse teams and constituents in a respectful, equitable, and inclusive fashion.
  • Working knowledge of common software applications (e.g., Word and Excel).
  • Ability to work in inclement conditions, including heat, cold, rain, and around biting or stinging insects.
  • Ability to follow policies that promote a safe working environment, including making informed, collaborative judgement calls in changing environments.
  • Follow oral and written directions and perform routine and repetitive work in a punctual, organized, and dependable manner.
  • Maintain a professional relationship with coworkers, landowners, and collaborators.


  • Previous mussel survey and species identification experience (training will also be provided to the successful candidate).
  • Familiarity with ArcGIS mapping software and experience navigating and using a GPS unit.



  • A two-year degree (or higher) in fisheries, wildlife biology, biology, natural resource management, ecology, entomology, or similar
  • OR a high school diploma/GED and two years' experience in a technician role or similar employment (please describe in your application).
  • Valid driver's license in the United States and a motor vehicle records check prior to employment allowing employee to be insured under Xerces corporate liability insurance. Offer of employment is contingent on this record check.



  • Wilderness first aid or swift-water rescue certifications.


  • Be able to perform the following with reasonable breaks and/or reasonable accommodations:
  • Willingness and availability for multi-day overnight travel and camping at remote field sites Monday through Friday during the period of employment;
  • Ability to swim in open and flowing water;
  • Conduct fieldwork in flowing water, utilizing snorkeling equipment and techniques;
  • Successfully complete an in-water safety training, including a swim test;
  • Ability to hike off-trail up to 2 miles through dense vegetation or on steep slopes if necessary to access sites;
  • Move and transport supplies, materials, and equipment weighing up to 30 lbs using a backpack for distances up to 2 miles;
  • Work outdoors in the field, including in water, for 8-10 hours per day under potentially adverse weather or field conditions;
  • Frequently traverse across uneven, slippery or rough terrain, slopes, rangeland, agricultural roads and fields, unpaved roads and walkways, and unimproved trails for periods of 8-10 hours;
  • Drive a vehicle for periods of up to 8 hours;
  • Operate a computer and other office productivity machinery, such as a telephone, copy machine, and computer printer for periods of 1-8 hours.

BENEFITS: This temporary position is eligible for Paid Time Off benefits, but not for health or disability insurance benefits.


TERMS: The Xerces Society is an at-will employer. Nothing in this job description restricts management's right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time. In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification form upon hire.


MORE INFORMATION: For more information on the Xerces Society and our programs, please see our website:



All applications must be submitted via our application website at:



The Xerces Society is proud to be Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer including disability and veterans. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.



We request priority referral of protected veterans for all openings with our organization. In order to be considered for employment, all applicants for employment with Xerces Society, apply through our Job Board. When referring or being referred as a candidate, including protected veterans, please refer them to this applicant site;

Xerces Society Inc



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