Student Conservation Association Reviews | Glassdoor

Student Conservation Association Reviews

Updated June 22, 2017
44 reviews

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3.4
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Student Conservation Association President & CEO Dale Penny
Dale Penny
15 Ratings

44 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Get to serve as a mentor to high school aged kids (in 4 reviews)

  • hours (I believe) you get a free pass to all national parks and federal lands for a year (in 4 reviews)

Cons
  • I was one of four senior crew leaders, and it was difficult to coordinate our efforts (in 4 reviews)

  • But SCA is the industry leader (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Director"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Student Conservation Association part-time

    Pros

    Remarkable leadership. Lots of positive change in the last few years. CEO is now a Jaime Matyas not Dale Penny. Very strong.

    Cons

    None. It's a nonprofit so always lots of challenges. But SCA is the industry leader. Very creative.

    Advice to Management

    Keep it up


  2. "Review"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Student Conservation Association full-time

    Pros

    Great work environment and work life balance.

    Cons

    need to work on establishing best practices

  3. "Stay in the field, never join the management staff"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Student Conservation Association full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    SCA does amazing work in the field. The participants and leaders grow immensely, while doing meaningful service work.

    Cons

    The executive leadership team is dysfunctional. They are top-down micro-managers that do not have any experience with the programming and mission that they seek to represent. While increasing in role and title, real authority and respect from the leadership team was greatly reduced. This left me with real accountability, but no authority.

    While there is great career potential to a certain point, the risk of being dismissed is high. Many quality peers were "downsized" without mentorship, support or feedback.

    The benefits package is generous, if you are able to use it.

    Continued downsizing, increased workload, lack of connection to the field and mission are resulting in diminishing participant experience and increased risk to participants.

    Advice to Management

    Lead with the values that brought SCA to where it is, and resulted in such great participant outcomes. Practice what you preach: diversity in thought, respect the process, learn. Unless a serious turn around in the executive team occurs soon, the SCA that boasts of 80,000 alumni will cease to exist.


  4. "Not the organization it used to be (or should be)"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Director
    Former Employee - Director
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Student Conservation Association full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Generous benefits - but good luck using them
    Field experience is amazing
    Meaningful experience for participants

    Cons

    Poor leadership
    Dysfunctional executive team that is out of touch but attempts to micro manage
    Significant increase in amount of program managed by single individuals
    Significant brain drain of experienced staff due to firings, layoffs, voluntary departures
    Decrease in staff and training WILL result in overwork, a less positive experience for participants and increase in real risk.

    Advice to Management

    Practice what you preach
    Learn what the organization is actually about - leave the ivory tower
    Learn the leadership that is imparted on a daily basis to the participants
    Align your actions with the organizational values
    Provide authority when demanding accountability
    Trust the subject matter experts that remain at SCA - the executive leadership does not know it all.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "Great for internships, bad bet for long-term"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Student Conservation Association full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    - Fabulous and wide-ranging internship opportunities in amazing places, performing rewarding work (especially the 10-mo. residential Corps programs)
    - Can be a good "pathway" to a federal job (NPS, USFS, etc) rather than colder USAjobs route
    - PTO/leave policies for full-time staff are generous

    Cons

    - 2009-2014 saw horrible [mis]management at senior level
    - Board of Directors usually provide no valuable business connections; no "give/get"
    - Funding model (dependent on stable Gov't budgets) is mono-cultured
    - Weak foundation/grant support
    - Staff and program cuts are frequent and poorly-handled

    Advice to Management

    - Staff changes in recent years seem positive, as does relocation of HQ to Arlington (from NH). Continue to appoint diverse staff with Gov't (DOI, etc) experience and connections.
    - Re-design and reconsider corporate sponsorship policies. The earthiest of staff will scoff but it's the only way to scale revenue.
    - Summer Camp seems like a great, overdue idea that might be scale-able.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Great people, great mission, a time of change"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - AmeriCorps Member, Crew Leader, Project Leader, Work Skills Instructor
    Former Employee - AmeriCorps Member, Crew Leader, Project Leader, Work Skills Instructor
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Student Conservation Association part-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    You work outdoors, with young people, and have opportunities to serve in a variety of conservation roles. I've met some of the best people working at SCA. SCA operates in remote wilderness and in well-loved urban parks. If you like seeing the difference you're making, it's great work.

    Cons

    It's a time of change. The organization is over 60 years old and is trying to adapt to current circumstances. This means some great people have been reorganized out of the organization. Some of the old core competencies are not valued as highly.

    Advice to Management

    Continue trying to balance serving urban populations and remote areas. It's a struggle but I wouldn't want to see SCA give up either part of its mission.


  7. "Best company to gain experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Ray Brook, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Ray Brook, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Student Conservation Association full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -people share the same passions as you
    -various agencies they work with
    -variety of skills learned
    -pays off student dept
    -gain what future employers love to call "experience"
    These jobs are all over the country and they pay for travel, student loans, and housing
    *if you have a car payment you better camp!!

    Cons

    Every once in a great while there was stupid busy work. Have more courses offered that are expensive such as first aid or wilderness responder

    Advice to Management

    Your doing great things! Maybe a slight bump in pay. Add more all over the country!

  8. Helpful (3)

    "SCA has a great mission"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA
    Recommends

    I worked at Student Conservation Association full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    SCA has a great mission. You will enjoy the final results of your work. Staff are friendly. Internships are great!

    Cons

    Management is very hierarchical. Regions are very isolated. Top down approach. Hard to find consensus. Do not value long term employees. Always looking for next best thing instead of focusing on present. Need to focus more on environmental movement and not live in isolated bubble.

    Advice to Management

    Listen more to your employees. If it is not broken, don't try to fix it. New is good, but not always necessary.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Great mission going through changes"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Manager in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Senior Manager in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Student Conservation Association full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great committed people. Fantastic board of directors and very strong mission

    Cons

    Had some challenges with senior financial management that caused some serious barriers to long term business planning

    Advice to Management

    Just listen to people and conti ue to explore alternative channels of funding


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Great company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    I had the opportunity to build a turnpike on a National Wildlife Refuge. It was an amazing experience. The crew came together to accomplish a hard project.

    Cons

    Not many I can think of.

    Advice to Management

    The training was very helpful. I felt it prepared me well for the job. The work-skills section is a great way to learn trail-work.


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