Through the Agriculture Conservation Experienced Services (ACES) Program, non- federal experienced workers, age 55 and over, assist the Forest Service in conservation-related programs under temporary technical assignments.
Forest Service ACES Program
Authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, the Forest Service ACES Program provides the opportunity for non-federal experienced workers, age 55 and older, to assist with technical aspects of conservation-related programs executed on or directly impacting National Forest System land. This includes positions at the Washington Office, Regions, Stations and Areas. ACES enrollees are not federal employees, rather they are enrolled in a program administered by nonprofit organizations through partnership agreements with the Forest Service.
ACES enrollees can work to support a variety of Forest Service programs, including Forest Management, Engineering, Ecosystem Management Coordination, Lands, Recreation, and other Natural Resource programs. Other programs like Job Corps and Research are also able to use ACES enrollees in certain situations. In addition, ACES enrollees may provide mentoring to new career employees.
The ACES program provides the ability to quickly acquire skilled personnel with specific "ready to apply" knowledge in conservation-related programs. This is made possible through partnership agreements with nonprofit organizations which will be responsible for identifying appropriate resources for the Agency's needs and directly administering those resources to provide ACES “Enrollees” on a temporary basis.
The Forest Service provides funding, office space, position descriptions, work assignments and oversight for the ACES positions, while the nonprofit organization handles advertising, recruiting, onboarding and payroll for each position. Available positions span a variety of skill sets and levels of experience.
The Forest Service has entered into two Master Agreements with nonprofit partners. Under these Agreements, Units on all levels across the Forest Service will be able to build supplemental project agreements to onboard ACES Enrollees within the scope of the authority.
Applicants must be age 55 and over and able to provide services and skills required for the positions, having “ready to apply” knowledge in conservation-related programs.
An ACES enrollee does not have to be a former federal employee. For retired federal employees, there is no waiting period after retirement before a qualified retired employee is eligible to become an ACES enrollee.
Pay and Work Schedules
The ACES enrollee’s pay, benefits, workers’ compensation, and personnel actions are all administered by a nonprofit organization. ACES enrollees will receive hourly wages based on the position level and other related benefits as required by law or as otherwise established by the nonprofit organization. Wages do not impact existing federal retirement annuity income.
Work schedules are flexible, allowing for full-time or part-time work. Telework is also an option, and is determined on a case by case basis.
Each ACES enrollee is responsible for reviewing and understanding any impacts their enrollment will have on their retirement benefits. If potential enrollees have questions about possible impacts to their social security benefits, they should contact the Social Security Administration directly by calling 800-772-1213 or going online to the website https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html.
How to Apply
The application and hiring process is handled by nonprofit partners. Interested applicants should check the websites of the nonprofit partners for available positions and more information on the ACES Program:
- Senior Service America, Inc. http://www.seniorserviceamerica.org/our-programs/the-fs-aces-program/
- National Older Worker Career Center https://www.nowcc.org/aces-program-fs/