Conservation Connect Fellowship Program

Every year, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) invites graduate students (pursuing a master's or doctoral degree) to apply to the Conservation Connect Fellowship Program. The fellowship includes a summer or academic year practicum at NFF's Missoula, Montana office, a field office, or hosted by a partner organization.

Conservation Connect fellowships aim to build experience, knowledge, and skills within the next generation of collaborative and conservation leaders to support each other and advance the field. We are striving to build a cohort of emerging leaders, connecting graduate students who will go on to do important work with communities and public lands in the future!

Here's what students gain by being a Conservation Connect fellow:

  • Applied experience with conservation programs and projects through a practicum project. For example, depending on the project, fellows may work with diverse stakeholders, support and facilitate collaborative efforts, coordinate and implement projects, conduct research to improve conservation programs, and develop training curricula and strategic communications.
  • Mentoring from skilled conservation professionals at the NFF and other nonprofit host organizations.
  • Trainings in collaborative conservation, facilitation practice, the roles of the National Environmental Policy Act and U.S. Forest Service, and other topics.
  • Real-world understanding of forest and public lands management.
  • An expanded personal and professional network.

2023 Fellowships

The application period has closed for 2023. Please check back in the fall for more information about applying for a 2024 fellowship.

Feedback From Previous Fellows

"My current employer and NFF work on exactly the same issues in the same region. Having familiarity with NFF’s work and knowing some local staff has certainly sped up my learning curve in a new career path coming out of graduate school."

"The numerous staff members I came in contact with during my fellowship were extremely welcoming and open to new ideas. I greatly appreciated their trust as I explored my newfound GIS & cartography skillsets to make a positive impact on the NFF and its mission."

"This fellowship was my first experience in the conservation world after previously working in marketing. The experiences I had during the fellowship shaped where I wanted to go in conservation as far as combining my skills in marketing with the needs and opportunities to apply them in conservation. Learning the process of conflict facilitation with collaborative groups was incredible. Getting out in the field with those groups to hear that all the stakeholders wanted the same thing, but the steps to get there may be different, was a really unique experience that I apply in my position today."

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We thank the Exxon Mobil Foundation, the Watershed Research and Training Center, Alaska Airlines, and the USDA Forest Service for their generous support of the 2023 Conservation Connect Fellowship Program.


For more information, please contact:

Jane Mandala, Conservation Connect Associate, at