Monday, October 19, 2015

Shawnee National Forest: Public Affairs Specialist, GS-1035-11/12

The Shawnee National Forest (Forest) is outreaching to fill the position of Public Affairs Specialist, GS-1035-11/12.  The purpose of this Outreach is to inform prospective applicants of this opportunity.  The duty station is located at the Supervisor’s Office in Harrisburg, Illinois.  For additional details on the position, you may call Allen Nicholas at (618) 253-1001.  The vacancy announcement for this position will be posted soon at the U.S. Government's official website for employment opportunities:

Anyone interested is encouraged to complete the attached
Outreach Response Form.  Respondents will be notified via email when the vacancy announcement becomes available.  You will still need to apply for the job separately.

Please reply to this Outreach Notice by October 27, 2015.

About the Position
Public Affairs Specialist:
The Shawnee National Forest is advertising for a Public Affairs Specialist position.  This is a permanent full-time position. 

The Public Affairs Specialist participates in the development and implementation of public affairs communication plans, program strategies and techniques for dealing with addressing critical and
complex public issues, and to establish two-way communication with the publics including the news media and elected officials. The Public Affairs Specialist uses a variety of communications methods and techniques (i.e., written, oral, visual and personal) in devising the appropriate communication method for each public affairs campaign. This person incorporates situation analysis, target publics identification, media and message strategies, and evaluation of effectiveness and costs in each campaign. They ensure that employees are appropriately involved in decision making activities; and use various tools and techniques to improve employee productivity and moral. This person monitors and evaluates how effectively information has been communicated; identifies and addresses internal communication training needs. The Public Affairs Specialist represents the Forest in meetings and discussions involving individuals, groups, and organizations working in support of, or opposing, the policies, programs, and work of the Forest. After consultation with supervisor, the Public Affairs Specialist has the authority to make public statements as necessary within the framework of established policy guidelines. This person provides input into the long-range planning, development and coordination of the overall Public Affairs program for the Forest and analyzes public reaction and recommends changes to improve understanding. The Public Affairs Specialist recommends methods of minimizing misconceptions and improving understanding of Regional direction. This person participates in the evaluation of the effectiveness of Forest issue management programs and implements improvements. The Public Affairs Specialist organizes, coordinates and implements effective employee and public meetings, workshops, field trips, or other forums designed to foster employee and public participation. This person stays abreast of the most current and effective communication methods and techniques and provides for training in these methods for others as needed.

The incumbent will report to the Forest Supervisor.  The selected individual will be subjected to a background investigation conducted by the Department of Homeland Security.
Description of the Forest:
The Shawnee National Forest includes about 280,000 acres of National Forest System land and is the single largest publicly owned body of land in the State of Illinois.  Within those lands, one can find the following:
• Seven Congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas (about 10% of the Forest)
• Six candidate Wild and Scenic Rivers
• Four National Natural Landmarks
• Four heritage resource sites on the National Register of Historic Places
• Two National Scenic Byways (NSB)
o Great River Road NSB, extending along the Mississippi River
o Ohio River NSB, along the Ohio, where it begins in Pennsylvania, traveling to Cairo, Illinois, where the Ohio meets the mighty Mississippi
• 80 designated Natural Areas considered important for botanical, ecological, geological or zoological reasons (about 5% of the Forest).  Ten of these natural areas are designated by the Forest Service as Research Natural Areas (9 ecological areas and 1 botanical area) to focus research on these high value ecological sites.
o 56 ecological areas
o 14 botanical areas
o 3 geological areas
o 7 zoological areas

The Shawnee is located within a day's drive (350 miles) of more than 45 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 7-1-97 estimate).  Additional information about the Forest may be found at the Shawnee National Forest website.

One can experience all four seasons in the southern Illinois region with an average of 3” of snow per year and temperatures rarely below 0 degrees.  Summer days are sunny and humid with highs in the 80’s – 90’s, occasionally topping 100.  Spring weather can occur in March, and fall weather can extend into November.  During the spring and fall seasons, the climate and beauty of the area is especially compelling.  Spring brings an abundance of blooming dogwoods, redbuds and wildflowers.  The fall is saturated with color, as the leaves turn brilliant reds, gold and yellows.  Garden of the Gods, the most visited site on the Forest, is a must-see during the fall color season.  The unusual rock formations, coupled with the surrounding Garden of the Gods Wilderness, portray the beauty of southern Illinois at its finest.

Pre-schools through high schools can be found in most communities and rank high in the state.  There are several community colleges in the area offering quite reasonable in-district tuition.  Southern Illinois University, located in Carbondale, IL, offers a full range of baccalaureate through doctoral programs.  Day care facilities also are available in most communities.

Churches representing all major denominations can be found in communities across the region.

Real estate in the area is moderately priced.  The median price for purchasing a home is approximately $120,000, and house rentals begin at approximately $450 per month.  Utilities are also priced moderately.  Tourism is a developing economic force in the area.  In recent years, several wineries have opened, offering two outstanding wine trails.  Local breweries are also starting to emerge, adding to the tourism opportunities in the region. 

With a mix of communities and towns, varying in population, Southern Illinois offers a rural environment with easy access to all possible amenities.  Both shopping and entertainment opportunities are abundant within the area.  Marion and Carbondale, IL along with Paducah, KY, offer shopping malls, movie theaters and several locally owned and operated restaurants along with major chain and fast-food restaurants.  Additional information on local employment opportunities can be found at the following links:
Harrisburg, IL – Companies and Businesses
Marion, IL – Companies and Businesses
Carbondale, IL – Companies and Business

Healthcare facilities serving the area include full facility Harrisburg Medical Center (Hospital), Carbondale Doctor’s Memorial Hospital and Marion Memorial Hospital.  Services at these hospitals include cardiac units, oncology and neonatal units.  Other hospitals providing care are Lourdes and Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah, KY and Deaconess in Evansville, IN.  All the hospitals provide 24-hour emergency room physician coverage and specialists.

Recreational and Cultural Activities:
Whether you’re a barbecue fan, blues lover, outdoor recreational enthusiast, lover of small town life or big city adventurer, southern Illinois truly provides something for everyone in terms of social engagement opportunities and overall choice of recreational/cultural type activities. 
With the perfect mix of small to mid-sized towns across the region coupled with easy access to bigger cities, including St. Louis, MO (located about 2 hours from Harrisburg, IL), Nashville, TN (located about 2.5 hours from Harrisburg, IL) and Chicago, IL (located about 6 hours from Harrisburg, IL), residents will find the ability to immerse themselves in the rich cultural and natural heritage encompassed in the area while also being able to easily travel and explore larger metropolitan areas nearby.

Festivals, fairs, artisan type craft events and more abound annually, and from more traditional American fare to Cuban, Thai, Japanese and more, a variety of restaurants representing global cuisine choices can be found across the region.  Other opportunities, including concerts, theater engagements, etc, can also be discovered at a variety of events and locations, offering easy access to diverse recreational and cultural activities while also offering a beautiful, predominantly agricultural based area to call home.

To learn more about the area, please visit the following:
Marion, IL Chamber of Commerce
Saline County, IL Chamber of Commerce
Saline County, IL Tourism
Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau

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