The Secretary may provide individual placements of resource assistants to carry out research or resource protection activities on behalf of the Secretary. To be eligible for selection as a resource assistant, an individual must be at least 17 years of age. The Secretary may select resource assistants without regard to the civil service and classification laws, rules, or regulations of the United States. The Secretary shall give a preference to the selection of individuals who are enrolled in an institution of higher education or are recent graduates from an institution of higher education, with particular attention given to ensure full representation of women and participants from historically black, Hispanic, and Native American schools.
Whenever one or more existing nonprofit organizations can provide, in the judgment of the the  Secretary, appropriate recruitment and placement services to fulfill the requirements of this section, the Secretary may implement this section through such existing organizations. Participating nonprofit organizations shall contribute to the expenses of providing and supporting the resource assistants, through private sources of funding, at a level equal to 25 percent of the total costs of each participant in the Resource Assistant program who has been recruited and placed through that organization. Any such participating nonprofit conservation service organization shall be required, by the respective land managing agency, to submit an annual report evaluating the scope, size, and quality of the program, including the value of work contributed by the Resource Assistants, to the mission of the agency.