Application Information

Photo by U.S. Forest Service

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 collaborative conservation. 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.

We are looking for students with a collaborative mindset who are enthusiastic about working with diverse staff and partners to make a meaningful contribution to our work. Applicants should have an academic background and/or interest in public lands conservation, excellent written and verbal communication skills, experience managing projects and timelines, and the ability to commit to the necessary project hours. Each practicum requires a specific skill set, as described in the project table. Successful fellows come from a variety of academic programs, including natural resources management, conflict resolution, forestry, communications, journalism, non-profit management, law, business, and more. Please note that this is not a research fellowship.

Photo by NFF

Photo by NFF

Fellowship Components and Requirements

Practicum (at least 245 hours)

The NFF will interview candidates and strive to match selected fellows with one of their preferred projects, as indicated in the application. Practicum work will take place over the summer and/or the academic year, with specific dates to be determined individually. The summer practicum schedule will require the fellow to complete their 245 hours over 8-10 weeks during the summer of 2024. The academic year practicum is the same number of hours spread over a longer timeframe. As part of their practicum, fellows may spend a portion of their time (up to 20%) performing tasks associated with nonprofit administration, such as meeting agenda development, notetaking, or organizational support. Please click here to see a list of all 2024 practicum projects.

Professional Development and Networking (estimated 55 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 will host a paid, in-person retreat June 3-7, 2024, near Big Fork, Montana. The retreat will provide an orientation to a variety of topics, including collaboration, best practices for neutral facilitation, NFF’s approach to engaging community interests, working with the Forest Service, and more. This is also an opportunity for fellows to get to know one another, meet NFF staff and partners, 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 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 in their graduate programs.

Photo by NFF

Photo by Joice Franzen


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 $20/hour (with no benefits offered) for up to 300 hours. Fellows will be reimbursed for approved travel expenses associated with participation in the fellowship program and practicum, including the in-person retreat in June, as well as for trainings and meetings. The NFF does not provide fellows with any equipment, such as laptops or phones.


Graduate students pursuing a master's degree or doctorate are eligible for the Conservation Connect Fellowship. 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. Fellows must be enrolled in a graduate program during the 2024-25 academic year.

Important Dates

  • February 4, 2024: Applications due
  • February 5 - March 8, 2024: NFF review of applications (with interviews for finalists)
  • March 15, 2024: Notification of fellow selections with practicum matches
  • May 2024: Program kickoff and welcome session (virtual)
  • June 3-7, 2024: Fellows orientation (in person, near Big Fork, MT)
  • Summer or Fall 2024: Practicums begin (depending on project)
  • April 30, 2025: 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)
  • Selection of top 3 projects (see full list here)
  • One letter of recommendation from a faculty member at your university (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.


If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Jane Mandala, Conservation Connect Associate, at (406) 830-4795 or [email protected]