Resource Assistants

Resource Assistants Program


Resource Assistants

The United States Forest Service Resource Assistants Program is a rigorous and immersive, paid internship for individuals interested in Forest Service careers. Resource assistants are engaged by partner organizations and work under the supervision of Forest Service staff to complete mission-critical work that demonstrates leadership, critical thinking, and strategic communication. Through collaboration, training, and mentorship, resource assistants gain the tools to launch their natural and cultural resource careers. Once RAs complete a minimum of 960 hours of satisfactory work and obtain a post-secondary degree (associate degree or higher), they may become eligible for the RAP noncompetitive hiring authority through a 2-year certificate of eligibility.

Program Objectives


Engage highly motivated candidates through internships under the supervision and coaching of Forest Service staff.


Instill stewardship values in the next generation of natural and cultural resource management professionals through career exploration and professional development.


Expand and enhance the capacity of the Forest Service to accomplish mission-critical work and high-priority projects.


Attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce to support the Forest Service’s mission to “sustain the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”

Benefits for Participants

RAs receive financial support, professional development, and access to Federal career pathways.
Financial support:
  • A minimum weekly stipend of $350 (full time) or $200 (part time).
  • A minimum travel and training allowance of $1,250 for Forest Service-approved, work-related professional development.
  • Housing support as an optional benefit if local housing availability or costs are a barrier to recruiting high-quality RA candidates.


Professional development:
  • Practical on-the-job experience via work assignments comparable to positions at a minimum GS-04 grade level or higher.
  • Work-related training opportunities.
  • Coaching and mentoring by Forest Service staff and networks.


Career pathway:
  • Networking and natural and cultural resource career exploration.
  • Exposure to Forest Service leadership values, approach and philosophy, i.e. Leaders Stance & Habits.
  • Eligibility for the RAP noncompetitive hiring authority and use of certificate of eligibility to apply to jobs that are open only to Forest Service employees and candidates with special hiring authority.


RAP Learning Session Archive:

Roles and Responsibilities

RAP Partner

The RAP partner

  • Conducts outreach and recruits a diverse pool of highly-qualified applicants for selection by Forest Service staff
  • Provides ongoing program support, such as paying stipends, coordinating travel and training logistics, managing administrative records, and tracking RA progress
  • Is required to contribute a minimum of 25 percent of the cost of the partnership
  • Submits quarterly tracking and performance reports.
Forest Supervisor

The Forest Service supervisor

  • Defines work done by RA
  • Selects the candidate
  • Provides supervision and coaching to maximize RA experience
  • Enhances RA development and contributes to the growth of the RA’s Forest Service network
The RA

The RA

  • Performs work that contributes to accomplishing the Forest Service’s mission and priorities
  • Adheres to agency and office policies, procedures, and rules
  • Develops professional goals and applies critical feedback to improve performance
  • May acquire eligibility to apply for qualifying, permanent General Schedule (GS) Forest Service positions on USAJobs after completing the RAP.


How To Apply

Resource Assistant positions are recruited by our valuable partner organizations. Visit their websites for more information on current positions available.
Identify one or more positions that fit your skill set and follow the steps outlined on the partner’s website to apply.
  • You will be interviewed first by the partner organization. They will pass your application on to the appropriate Forest Service unit if they believe the position would be a good fit.
  • The Forest Service unit will interview you next, and inform the partner organization of their decision.
  • The partner organization will inform you of the final decision and provide further information as needed.

How It Works









Onboarding is the process of integrating into the work environment. Your Forest Service supervisor and partner organization will work with you to ensure a smooth beginning to your position.

Complete and return required paperwork and other requests in a timely fashion.

Your Forest Service supervisor should provide orientation materials to familiarize you with your new position/unit/area.

Set up a Forest Service signature block.

Once you have acquired a Forest Service email address, go to and follow the instructions. Consider adding “Resource Assistant – [your partner organization]” to your position title.

Mary Biggs

Familiarize yourself with the Forest Service structure, mission, and history.
Download History and Overview of the Forest Service
History & Overview

“Seeking the Greatest Good”
The Greatest Good


This stage includes the majority of your time as an RA. Successful engagement with the Forest Service means performing your duties diligently and producing high-quality results. It also means positioning yourself for success every day. Think of your position as an ongoing interview.

Work collaboratively with Forest Service staff to complete assigned work and activities.
Develop professional goals and apply critical feedback to improve performance.

Tip: Keep a record of your projects and accomplishments. Update it when you complete items and when you start working on new areas.

Actively participate in communities of practice, meetings, unit activities, and other events, as appropriate.

Connect with the national RA Community – Click Here.

Access professional development trainings.

Visit the RAP SharePoint page for upcoming opportunities – Click Here
(This link is only accessible with a Forest Service account.  If you do not have a Forest Service account, please contact your supervisor for assistance.)

Tip: Set up informational interviews with individuals that inspire you. Consider asking one or more of them to be your mentors during your time at the agency


Position yourself for a successful future career at the end of your RAP position. Whether you plan to stay with the Forest Service or explore other possibilities, your Resource Assistantship is an asset that will help you wherever you go.

Complete exit procedures as assigned for both the Forest Service unit and your partner organization.
Obtain signed certificate of eligibility.

The partner organization and the Forest Service unit will collaborate to issue your certificate of eligibility.

Apply for qualifying permanent General Schedule Forest Service positions on USAJOBS

How to apply for Forest Service positions using the RAP noncompetitive hiring authority

Download – Utilizing RAP noncompetitive hiring authority


Forest Service Outreach Database:




RAP Guide

RAP Guide

RAP Nonceompetitive

RAP noncompetitive hiring authority FAQ


Forest Service Leader’s Stance & Habits


RAp Noncompetitive Hiring Authority

How to utilize the RAP noncompetitive hiring authority