About the Conservation Connect Fellowship
NFF believes in the value of matching the cutting-edge knowledge acquired at the graduate level of universities with practical, hands-on experience. The purposes of the Conservation Connect Fellowship Program are to align NFF’s collaboration and conservation work with a practicum and experiential education opportunity, and to build a cohort of next generation leaders in the field of natural resource conflict resolution.
The NFF will strive to meet each fellow’s learning objectives while also effectively extending the capacity of NFF and its partners to deliver community engagement and conservation results for National Forests and Grasslands. NFF gives fellows the chance to gain direct experience in the variety of NFF and partner functions.
We are looking for students with interest and academic experience in collaborative process and natural resource conflict resolution and on-the-ground science applications. We will also consider applicants with an interest in nonprofit administration, law, grants administration, communications, or marketing. Please note that this is not a research fellowship.
NFF administers the Fellowship Program, and NFF or partner organizations provide the practicum experience, which is a major component of the program. Between trainings, orientation, and the practicum, each fellow can expect to work 360 hours. Exact dates of practicum work will vary by project.
Fellowship Components, Terms, and Eligibility
Practicum (at least 310 hours): The NFF will match each fellow to a practicum at the NFF Missoula office, an NFF field office, or a partner host organization for a practicum. The practicum will take place over the summer or the academic year, with specific dates to be determined individually. The summer practicum schedule will require the fellow to complete their 310 hours over ten to twelve weeks during the summer of 2023. The academic year practicum is the same number of hours spread over a longer timeframe.
During each practicum, the fellow will focus on one or more projects. NFF will strive to match fellows with practicum opportunities according to the fellow’s preferences expressed in their application. As part of their practicum, fellows may spend a portion of their time (up to 20%) performing tasks associated with nonprofit administration, such as grant proposal preparation or organizational support.
Professional Development and Networking (estimated 50 hours):
- Conservation Connect Advisory Council Meetings: Each fellow will have an opportunity to participate in meetings of the Conservation Connect Advisory Council, composed of leading thinkers in the field of natural resources collaboration.
- Fellows Retreat: The NFF is planning an in-person retreat June 5-9, 2023, near Bigfork, Montana. The orientation will provide training in a variety of topics, including collaboration, best practices for neutral facilitation, NFF’s approach to engaging community interests, working with the Forest Service, and relevant federal laws. This is also an opportunity for fellows to get to know one another, meet NFF staff, and participate in a field trip.
- Peer Networking and Trainings: Fellows are asked to participate in monthly virtual meetings where the NFF offers trainings and supports fellows as a group to discuss issues that arise, share accomplishments, and solicit feedback from both their peers and NFF.
- Mentor Support: The NFF will match each fellow with a mentor from the NFF or the host organization, who functions as the practicum supervisor. Fellows and mentors will schedule regular meetings to talk through questions and ideas as they connect their practicum work to the theories and methods they are studying at their university.
Evaluation: Fellows are required to participate in a post-fellowship evaluation process conducted by NFF. NFF will collect feedback and metrics on fellows’ experiences and accomplishments throughout the 12-month period.
Fellowship Award: Fellows will be hired as temporary, part-time employees and compensated at a rate of $18/hour for their time (with no benefits offered). Fellows will be reimbursed for approved travel expenses associated with participation in the fellowship program and practicum, including the in-person orientation in June.
Eligibility: Graduate students pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate are eligible for the Conservation Connect Fellowship. Students must be enrolled in a graduate program during the 2023-2024 academic year. We anticipate students will have taken coursework related to the study of natural resources, conflict resolution, collaboration, non-profit management, communications, or other field related to the specific practicum.
2023 Practicum Projects: Click to view a table of 2023 practicum projects, including location, timeline, and description. Please note that projects could be further customized based on applicant skills and interests. Additional projects may be developed for highly qualified applicants.
February 5, 2023: Applications due
February 6 – March 24, 2023: NFF review of applications (with interviews for finalists)
March 31, 2023: Notification of fellow selections with practicum matches
May 2023: Program kickoff and welcome session (virtual)
June 5-9, 2023: Fellows orientation (in person, near Big Fork, MT)
Summer or Fall 2023: Practicums begin (depending on project)
May 2024: Fellowship ends
Application and Selection Process
The Conservation Connect Fellowship application has five components:
- a cover letter, résumé, and personal statement (response to 3 questions)
- a brief survey to indicate project preference
- one letter of recommendation (emailed separately)
Applications that do not include all components will not be considered.
The NFF will select Conservation Connect Fellows based on their readiness to take advantage of what the fellowship offers, both in terms of professional development and practical experience, and the strength of their application materials. A review committee will assess written materials and conduct candidate interviews. The National Forest Foundation welcomes a diverse pool of applicants and maintains a policy of nondiscrimination.