American Bird Conservancy's (ABC's) Conservation and Justice Fellowship program provides opportunities to examine and expand how we care for both birds and people. Our paid, part-time fellowships allow individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise to work closely with our staff and partners on understanding how bird conservation efforts can support local communities, ensure the consideration of varied perspectives, and engage more people.

For more information about ABC's Conservation and Justice Fellowships, please contact our Vice President for Together for Birds, Naamal De Silva.

What are the goals of the Conservation and Justice Fellowships?

Effectively protecting wild birds throughout the Americas requires the creativity, dedication, and participation of far more people than are currently involved.

At ABC, we have always believed that bird conservation benefits from strong partnerships across numerous communities and groups. Conservation and Justice Fellows help us to expand and deepen these partnerships. Fellows help us illuminate varied ways of caring for birds and people. Many such ideas are already present within communities, but may be largely invisible or ignored.

Through reciprocal learning, mentoring, community engagement, and the abundant inspiration inherent in wild birds and places, we seek to provide Fellows with access to new insights and career possibilities.

Over time, we believe that Fellows, ABC staff, and our many partners will create transformative change to benefit birds, people, and the health of our planet.

What will Fellows do?

In 2024, we have an overall theme, a range of specific topics, and we are offering two different types of Conservation and Justice Fellowships.

Painting by Swapna Shepherd, one of the justice fellows from the 2022 cohort.

ABC is 30 years old! We are celebrating the progress we have made and we want to honor the contributions of our many partners, donors, members, and supporters. We also want to acknowledge the work that lies ahead and to collectively envision a future where birds and people can thrive. The overall theme of the 2024 Conservation and Justice Fellowships is “An Ethical Future for Conservation.” As in 2022, we have a range of specific projects, but we also want to highlight findings from our first group of fellows. We want fellowship projects to help us collectively envision an organization, field, movement, and society that is more just, where we celebrate the existence of all birds and all people, where wild places are abundant, accessible, and ethically co-managed.

1)  Community Engagement Fellowships are intended for mid-career individuals seeking to create change through noticing, deep listening, and respectful engagement with ABC's existing partners or with potential partners, who might include the residents of a place where we do conservation work, Tribes or Indigenous groups, environmental justice organizations, or the members of conservation networks. Community engagement Fellows will work closely with ABC hosts to carry out research that centers interviews and will create reports, tool kits, communications materials, or other products as requested by the communities they engage. These fellowships are most appropriate for people with some experience in community engagement, education, organizing, social science research, or long-term service work.

2) Storytelling Fellowships are intended for early career individuals who are passionate about ethical and inclusive storytelling. Storytelling Fellows will also engage in deep listening, observation, and independent research, but their focus will be on creatively communicating work that explicitly benefits (or could benefit) both birds and people. These fellowships are most relevant for people who enjoy writing, visual art, oral storytelling, photography, creating videos, poetry, social media, or other aspects of storytelling.  

All Fellows will start in June of 2024 and work part time over one year (with details, deliverables, and timing to be coordinated with their ABC hosts). Fellows will learn about a specific geography, program, or partnership through a combination of interviews, meeting attendance, and independent research.

Each Fellow will work closely with their ABC host (including through bi-weekly or monthly meetings) and with Naamal De Silva (though bi-monthly conversations). All fellows will also attend six cohort meetings facilitated by Naamal on topics such as conservation justice, community engagement, ethical storytelling, and avoiding burnout. Fellows are also welcome to attend our monthly staff meetings (Flock Talks), JEDI Council meetings, and Community Gatherings, as well as to participate in a version of our internal Cultivating Balance program.

What are the 2024 Fellowship Projects?

Both Storytelling and Community Engagement Fellows must apply for specific projects that fill existing needs identified by ABC staff and partners. However, applicants are welcome to shape projects based on their own expertise and ideas.

In 2024, our Conservation and Justice Fellowship projects are:

  1. Indigenous Stewardship and Lifeways. Storytelling Fellow. Hosts: Aimee Roberson and Connor Jandreau.
  2. Lost Birds and Discovery Narratives. Community Engagement or Storytelling Fellow. Two potential projects. Host: John Mittermeier.
  3. International Partnerships for Migratory Birds. Partners in Flight Community Engagement Fellow. Host: Jennifer Davis, Partner: Elva Manquera, Klamath Bird Observatory.
  4. Neurodiversity. Community Engagement or Storytelling Fellow. Two potential projects. Host: Jim Giocomo.
  5. Cross-Border Stewardship in the Sonoran Desert. Sonoran Joint Venture Storytelling or Community Engagement Fellow. Host: Aimee Roberson. Partner: Jennie Duberstein.
  6. Environmental Education in Coastal Texas. SPLASh Community Engagement Fellow. Host: Elizabeth Virgl. Two potential projects.
  7. Seabirds and Stories of Multi-Species Kinship. Storytelling Fellow. Host: Sea McKeon.
  8. Environmental Education in the Bahamas. Kirtland's Warbler Community Engagement Fellow. Host: Steve Roels.
  9. Together for Birds Artist Residency. Storytelling Fellow. Hosts: Lynne Mecum and Naamal De Silva.

In your application, please specify which project you are most interested in. If you are interested in more than one project, you can also select a second and third choice.  

Who should apply?

We welcome applications from a diversity of people, including people historically excluded from or marginalized within the field of biodiversity conservation.

Fellowships include a stipend and are available to freelance workers, consultants, current students, recent graduates, and to those with part-time or full-time positions (as long as you are authorized to do additional part-time work). There are no degree requirements, but we require an interest in birds, experience in biodiversity conservation or social justice, and a passion for intersectional, community-engaged work. Applicants need to be over 20 years old. Beyond that, requirements vary by project.

All Fellowships are remote and require a computer and internet access (please indicate in your application if this is a major hardship).

What is the duration of the Conservation and Justice Fellowship?

Our fellowships last one year. Fellows will work part time between June of 2024 and May of 2025. The specific number of hours per week will vary based on each Fellow's schedule and project deadlines. We want the work to be flexible and to align with your other work and obligations, but there may be a few project-specific deadlines and needs. Also, all fellows are required to attend bi-monthly cohort meetings (in 2022, these were on Saturday afternoons because that is what worked for all fellows). All fellows must also meet regularly with ABC hosts and bi-monthly with Naamal.   

Where will Fellows be located?

Most projects allow for Fellows to be based anywhere, and the majority of the work will be remote. For some projects, there is a preference for Fellows to be based in a specific geography or to travel to places where ABC and our partners work.

Are the Fellowships paid?

Yes! We believe strongly that those who care for people and the planet should be fairly compensated for their work. Awards are based on experience and the type of project. In 2024, Community Engagement Fellows will receive a stipend of $20,000 for about 300 hours of work between June of 2024 and May of 2025. Storytelling Fellows will receive $10,000 for about 300 hours of work between June of 2024 and May of 2025.

How do I apply?

Thank you so much for your interest in our Conservation and Justice Fellowships! Applications for 2024 are now closed. Our next cycle of fellowships will be in 2026, with applications opening up early that year.

Look for insights from 2022 and 2024 fellows on our Birdsongs blog, our magazine, and social media.

What did the 2022 Fellows accomplish?

You can learn a bit more about our inaugural cohort of fellows through this story as well as through their posts on our blog. Additionally, 2022 Fellows participated in the following webinars:

  1. Celebrating ABC's 2022 Conservation and Justice Fellows, August 2023
  2. Birds for All webinar with Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), September 2023
  3. Future of Conservation: Expanding Opportunities Through Fellowships, a webinar from ABC and George Washington University's Planet Forward, February 2024

We will continue to involve alumni in future events, articles, and activities based on their interests and expertise.

The 2022 Cohort of American Bird Conservancy Conservation and Justice Fellows, from left to right, top row then bottom row: Claudia Santiago, Ellen Sanders-Raigosa, Barbara Kipreos, Noah Gomes, Javier A. Román Nieves, Swapna Shepherd, Harrison Watson, and Katia Pilar Carranza. Read More.

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. Read more about her work here.

Are there any related opportunities?

In addition to our fellowships, we will offer up to five small grants for stories or limited pilot projects exploring intersections between bird conservation and human wellbeing, including stories that could grow into future fellowship projects. Together for Birds Seed Grants are available to anyone, with preference for Conservation and Justice Fellowship finalists and applicants. Grants range from $1,000 to $2,000 and the application process is much simpler than for the fellowships.

How can I support Conservation and Justice Fellowships at American Bird Conservancy?

Thank you for your interest in supporting this important work! You can contribute directly to ABC's Fellowship program by making a gift via our secure online form.

For more information about ABC's Conservation and Justice Fellowships, please contact ABC's Vice President for Together for Birds, Naamal De Silva (