Apprentice Naturalist Guide

  • Position status: Now Hiring
  • Type: Seasonal
  • Schedule: We accept applications at any time for next season.
  • Note: Apprenticeship offered early March through May. Conditional employment as a First-Year Naturalist Guide continues through the end of October.

For those new to CFI, this Apprentice Naturalist Guide training program was developed for outdoor educators wanting to build teaching and guiding skills for the desert, mountain, and river environments on the Colorado Plateau. These Naturalist Guides will spend their first twelve weeks as Apprentices and will benefit from intense mentoring in content about the natural and cultural history of the area — with a focus on Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and surrounding BLM and Forest Service lands and rivers.  Throughout the rest of the season as first year Naturalist Guides, they will develop basic rafting skills on the Colorado, Green, and San Juan Rivers (Class I-III) and will earn a Utah River Guide Crew license. Most of CFI programs in the Spring and Fall serve school groups at Professor Valley Field Camp. 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 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 weekly day trips on the Colorado River as part of the Field Camp experience. Additional time will be in support work (food shopping, cooking, shuttles, teaching material upkeep, and equipment maintenance). Once the Apprenticeship is completed, guides will work more extensive trips such as multi-day river trips, tours in the national parks, and improving curriculum.

From March through May, field staff can expect to be spending nights in the field most weeks.

Completing the initial season as an Apprentice Naturalist Guide in good standing qualifies employees to return to work for CFI at higher pay rates, more river guiding, and more flexible seasons in following years.

For more information about Utah River Guide licensing see: http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/boating/commercial-boating


  • Bachelor’s Degree in related field strongly preferred.
  • Available to work the complete season (Early March through May or October). Start date is firm due to intensive 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
  • Clean Motor Vehicle report from home state, held driver’s license for at least 5 years, and physical exam to meet DOT requirements
  • Ability to lift 50 lbs.


Apprentices will receive an intern stipend of $600 month, or $300/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 and on a salary basis. Pay increases are rewarded for 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 complete, guides are welcome to find their own housing, but the continued rental option will be available at $100/per 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.

Initial training will include one day off/week. There will usually be two days off/week. May and September are exceptionally busy. Schedules will vary due to assigned river launch dates and bookings by groups. During the summer months, staff can schedule time off in advance using their accrued leave.

To apply, please submit to education@cfimoab.org:

  • cover letter
  • resume
  • three references: name, email, phone. At least should be two employment-related
  • a copy of driver’s license
  • motor vehicle report (current within 1 year)
  • declare any felony conviction
  • current copies of First Aid/CPR cards
  • copy of current WFR, WAFA, or WFA

Candidates will be contacted for interviews.

CFI is an equal opportunity employer.