American Bird Conservancy is proud to launch our new Conservation and Justice Fellowship program to expand the intersections between biodiversity conservation and environmental justice.

We will offer eight paid fellowships focused on storytelling and seek individuals with varied perspectives, personal and professional backgrounds, and areas of expertise. We want you to learn more about our bird conservation work, to ask incisive questions, to reach out to current and new partners, and help us to tell their stories. 

Who should apply?

We welcome applications from a diversity of people, including people historically left out of environmental conservation. We need varied perspectives and energy to restore and care for places where birds, people, and all species can thrive. 

Fellowships are available for freelance workers, consultants, current students, recent graduates, and to those with full-time positions. There are no degree requirements, but we require some experience in either conservation or social justice, plus a passion for intersectional work.

Applicants need to be 21 or over. We seek both early-career and more experienced Fellows, with two different rates of pay based on experience (see below). Fellows must be authorized to work in the United States; the one exception to that requirement is if a Fellow is hired by one of our international partners.    

Why should you join us?

You will gain an understanding of bird conservation, expand your professional networks, access mentors, and find relevant professional development opportunities. Fellows will learn together, and we intend for work with our staff and partners to also be reciprocal learning opportunities. You will have a platform from which to tell your own story and stories about the diversity of people who work to protect wild places and species. This is our first year, so you will also have opportunities to shape the future of the Fellowship program through your feedback.

 What will Fellows do?

Fellows will use community engagement and research to create engaging stories about ABC staff, partners, and the birds and places we work to protect.

Fellows must apply for specific projects that fill existing needs identified by ABC staff and partners, listed below. However, you are also welcome to shape these projects based on your expertise and ideas. All Fellows will learn about a specific geography, program, or partnership through a combination of interviews, attending meetings, and research. You will ask questions and provide input on how we might better weave together conservation and justice. You will reach out to new partners or work to strengthen existing partnerships relevant to your project. You will tell stories based on what you learn and also share aspects of your own evolving story and aspirations. Each Fellow will work closely with a project manager and with ABC's chief diversity officer. We also will work to match each Fellow with an external mentor with experience in social justice and/or ethical storytelling. 

Here are the specific projects for 2022:

  1. Pilina: Stories about People's Relationships with Hawaiian Birds
  2. Farmworkers and Pesticide Exposure
  3. Communicating Climate Justice
  4. Gender Inclusion in Preventing Species Extinction in Latin America
  5. Envisioning Conservation with Indigenous Communities on California's Central Coast
  6. Bird City and Community Engagement
  7. Indigenous Grasslands Stewardship
  8. Artist Residency

To learn more, you can view detailed descriptions of each project, including a few additional requirements for some of them. 

What are ABC's goals in creating the Conservation and Justice Fellowship?

Broadly, we seek to expand the confluence between conservation and environmental justice, which will further our overall mission of restoring and stewarding bird populations and habitats. We believe that bird conservation benefits from strong partnerships across numerous communities and groups. We need more ideas about how to effectively and sustainably support birds and people; many of these ideas are already present within communities, but may have been invisible or ignored. Fellows will work to strengthen partnerships and to seek perspectives and solutions that have remained outside of mainstream biodiversity conservation. We also seek to provide opportunities for Fellows to gain new insights and career paths through reciprocal learning, mentoring, community engagement, and finding inspiration in wild birds and places. 

Specific goals include:

Justice: Fellows will strengthen connections across communities and seek opportunities to fully embed the needs of people into bird and habitat conservation.

Equity: Paid Fellowships help current and potential conservationists whose work might be unpaid or underpaid. Flexible schedules will be offered  based on individual needs.

Diversity: We will recruit Fellows from a diversity of backgrounds and areas of expertise, who will bring a range of perspectives and new ideas to our work. Fellows will help us engage and strengthen partnerships with a range of communities across places where we work.

Inclusion: We will provide Fellows with new networks, visibility, pathways, and mentors so that they feel a sense of belonging within the bird conservation field. Fellows may themselves serve as role models for the next generation of conservationists.

When would Fellows start?

Fellows will start in early June. 

What is the duration of Fellowships?

Fellowships comprise eight weeks of work, which can be carried out over up to six months, with a maximum of 20 hours per week. 

Where will Fellows be located?

Most projects allow for Fellows to be based anywhere in the United States, and the majority of the work will be virtual/remote. In two cases, Fellows might be based outside of the United States and will work closely with a partner organization. In some cases, there is a preference for Fellows to be based in a specific geography and/or to travel to some of the places where ABC and our partners work. See project descriptions for more details.

Are the Fellowships paid?

Yes. We recognize that too many people in social justice and environmental fields do unpaid and underpaid work. We believe that those who care for people and the planet should be compensated for their work.  Awards are based on experience: $7,000 for early career Fellows or $14,000 for experienced Fellows. Through their application materials, individuals applying as Experienced Fellows need to demonstrate that they have 10 or more years of relevant experience (a combination of work, service, education, and storytelling). Experienced Fellows will work for the same amount of time but will have additional deliverables commensurate with their expertise.

 How to Apply

Tell us more about your background, aspirations, and experience in social justice and/or conservation. We are looking for storytellers, so we want a few different things to get to know you better. Please submit your application by uploading all of the materials listed below on Bamboo

  1. Tell us your story through a blog post (700-1000 words with 1-5 images, as a pdf file), video (3-6 minutes, uploaded to Youtube or Vimeo), or photo essay (10-15 photos with captions or an accompanying narrative, as a pdf file or a link). If you are applying for an Artist Residency, please submit photos of 1-3 works of art with an accompanying narrative. Please address the following questions through your submission: What early memories shaped your interests and aspirations? How does your background provide you with a unique perspective about conservation and justice? What do you believe about the rights of nature and people? What drives you? What type of work do you aspire to do?
  1. Create three social media posts about topics within the intersection of conservation and justice. What does the intersection of conservation and justice mean to you? What are questions you would like to explore through your Fellowship? Focus these posts on the project for which you are applying. Feel free to create an infographic for each post, or to use photos and images to illustrate your points. You don't need to post these to your own accounts; just upload the content as part of your application (a single pdf).
  1. Send a letter of recommendation from a mentor (a former or current teacher, supervisor, friend of the family, coach, or other guide who can speak about you and your potential).
  1. Send your CV or a complete LinkedIn profile.
  1. Send your application questions on Bamboo.

If you have additional questions, please contact Naamal De Silva (ndesilva@abcbirds.org). The deadline for submitting applications is Sunday, May 15th at midnight Eastern Time.

Banner art: "Murmurations” by Neha Misra, 2022. Neha is a contemporary eco-folk artist, poet, and Climate Justice advocate with a deep belief in the power of human (re)imagination to create new realities.