Q. What kinds of activities do Hutton Scholars participate in?
A. Since our mentors are located all over the country and work for a wide variety of organizations, each student’s experience will be unique. The student may work outdoors in the field, on a boat, in a laboratory, and in an office. Possible activities might include: taking fish population surveys, establishing aquatic vegetation and fish habitat, electrofishing, assisting with children’s educational programs, snorkeling, examining specimens under a microscope, water quality testing, and much more. Some fieldwork activities can be quite rigorous and can involve overnight, multiple day, or week-long trips. Students should be physically fit and willing to perform the duties outlined by the mentor in their preliminary meeting.
Q. Is the program available in my area?
A. Student’s will be selected based on their submitted application materials. It is best for you to reach out and contact fisheries professionals within your community to apply as a mentor to the program. If you are selected and do not have a mentor, AFS staff will try and place you with a suitable mentor but this is not guaranteed because of geographic limitations.
Q. What is a student’s schedule like?
A. Students are encouraged to work five days a week for eight consecutive weeks. However, mentors have the flexibility of arranging the work schedule to fit their needs and those of the student.
Q. Can a student work more than 40 hours in one week?
A. Yes. AFS leaves the exact details of the student’s schedule up to the mentor, since they may have various projects that may take the full 40 hours or more one week and less than 40 hours in another week. If a student works extra hours in a given week, it is expected that the mentor will allow them to work less than 40 hours in another week.
Q. Can a student participate in the program for more than 8 weeks?
A. Yes, a student can choose to participate for longer than the minimum required time, but the scholarship amount will not change. In the past, some mentor agencies have chosen to employ their student or provide them with an internship after the student’s participation in the Hutton Program has ended. Students interested in continuing their work should talk to their mentors directly to find out about any opportunities that may be available.
Q. Can a student take a vacation during the program?
A. Vacations and holidays are left up to the mentor’s discretion and will not affect the scholarship amount. However, if extensive time off is requested, such as a week or more, it is expected that the student will make up that time so that the minimum requirement of 8 weeks of full participation is achieved. Students should make these arrangements directly with their mentors and notify the AFS Educational Program Coordinator about changes in their schedules.
Q. What happens if a mentor will be out of the office on vacation or business?
A. If a mentor will be unavailable for a portion of the program, they should make arrangements with a colleague so the student can continue to participate in the program in the mentor’s absence. The Educational Program Coordinator must be notified in advance and provided with the colleague’s contact information.
Q. When will mentors and students be notified that they’ve been accepted into in the program?
A. A selection panel meets in March to determine the students who will participate in the program. Final decisions are made by late April/early May, and all student applicants are informed by phone or e-mail of their selection status, with a portion informed that they have been chosen as alternates. Selected students are provided with an acceptance form and information on their mentor match. Mentors will be notified by email and mail and given the students’ contact information. Student-mentor pairs make arrangements to meet together with the student’s parent(s)/guardian to discuss the duties, responsibilities, and summer schedule. If the mentoring arrangement is acceptable to the student, mentor, and parent(s)/guardian, the student accepts the internship and scholarship by completing the acceptance form, having it signed by the mentor and parent(s), and returning the form to AFS by a pre-determined date by the end of May to reserve the student’s place in the program.
Q. If I was a student in last year’s Hutton Program, am I guaranteed to get into the program this year?
A. No. Students who have participated in the Hutton Program before are no longer eligible to apply.
Q. Do mentors have to fill out a time sheet for the student?
A. Yes. The mentor has to sign and approve a completed time sheet for the student. Mentors also have to submit two brief monthly check-in reports on the student’s conduct and participation and one final report detailing the summer’s experience. Guidelines for the check-in reports and the final report will be provided. The Hutton Coordinator will remind mentors via email of all report deadlines, and reports can be sent over email.
Q. When can I expect to receive my check?
A. Students must agree to complete the 8-week internship to be eligible to receive the full payment amount. Rather than providing the students with a lump sum at the end of the summer, each student’s scholarship will be divided into four equal installments and a paycheck will be sent bi-weekly depending on student hours worked. Students who need to cover expenses over the summer months will have the funds available to them. Students should expect to receive checks approximately one week after checks are mailed, and most checks are sent once the corresponding time sheets and reports have been sent.
Q. Instead of mailing my check, can it be directly deposited?
A. No. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide direct deposit for the scholarship funds.
Q. Are Hutton Scholarships considered income for tax purposes?
A. The Hutton Awards are not considered wages; therefore, no W-4 form needs to be completed by the student when they begin the program, and no taxes are withheld by AFS. However, the awards are considered taxable income according to IRS regulations. Keep in mind, there are various factors that determines ones filling status, such as the amount of earned or unearned income, whether a person is a qualifying dependent. Students are advised to consult IRS regulations regarding educational awards. Use these resources to determine your filing status:
https://www.irs.gov/uac/Do-I-Need-to-File-a-Tax-Return%3F (electronic questionnaire)
Q. If a student needs additional training, are funds available for the student to take an outside course?
A. No. The mentoring agency is required to handle any expenses related to training the student to do the work that they will be involved in during the summer.
Q. Are travel expenses for students paid for by AFS?
A. No. The students are responsible for transportation to and from the job since they are placed with a mentor within a reasonable commuting distance. It is important to note that many mentors have field activities planned for the student which means some days may not have a precise ending time. Therefore, in the past, we’ve found that it is usually best if the student can drive themselves to and from the work site rather than relying on a parent or someone else to pick them up as that person may have to wait and therefore be inconvenienced. There have been a few instances in the past where the commute was more substantial and the mentoring agency chose to help the student with that expense. Such financial assistance from a mentor would be on a voluntary basis only and would not be required by AFS. However, any expenses associated with travel while on the job (overnight field trips, etc.) are paid for by the mentor’s office.
Q. Can a student go on overnight field trips?
A. Yes. Overnight field trips provide an exciting learning opportunity for students in the program. AFS allows for such experiences, so long as the mentor receives approval from the student’s parent(s)/guardian first and sends a copy of a signed parental permission form to AFS. AFS provides a standard permission form to use; however, mentors may create one that works best for their office. Please note that per diem food expenses for the student for the trip are not covered by AFS.
Q. Does AFS provide insurance should a student be injured during the program?
A. Yes. AFS provides liability insurance for coverage up to $10,000 for each student. Each mentor is provided with the front page of the insurance policy to act as evidence of coverage (individual cards are not issued on such a policy) and a claim form to use should an accident occur. (Completed claim forms should not be submitted to AFS; they should be submitted directly to the insurance company.) As the liability insurance policy has a very high minimum number of individuals that it covers, we are able to cover all mentors as well at no additional cost.
Q. What can I do to help promote the program?
A. You can request to receive recruitment materials by filling out the form, “recruitment materials.” We encourage all current and past Hutton Scholars, mentors, parents and teachers to reach out to students in their community about the Hutton Program.
Q. Are there any pre-requisite classes that I should take to prepare me for my experience?
A. No pre-requisite courses are required; however, past Hutton students have found that science courses such as Ecology, Conservation, Biology, and Geology were helpful as were other courses such as Statistics and Computer Science. If such courses are available at your school, you may wish to take one or two before the summer program begins.