Full-Time Director of Conservation
Locations: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska
The Director of Conservation will lead the development of conservation objectives and implementation of conservation strategies throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska (Great Plains), ensuring alignment with the goals and objectives of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Great Plains, and Central Flyways. They will oversee Audubon’s plan to expand ecosystem conservation at scale to restore prairies and wetlands across the Great Plains using programs such as the Prairie Management Toolbox, Conservation Forage Program and Audubon Conservation Ranching, and Urban Woods and Prairies by collaborating with external partners such as state and federal natural resource agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, local Audubon chapters, universities, and commercial entities. The Director of Conservation will expand existing programs and develop new programs across all three states in ways that engage communities, restore habitats, increase climate resiliency, and benefit target birds.
The Director will manage the conservation staff and project managers and collaborate closely with the Executive Director of Audubon Great Plains to develop conservation priorities and policies for the region. They will develop funding proposals for natural resource agencies, organizations, foundations, corporations, and individuals. They will also be responsible for identifying funding opportunities and managing the funding relationships with natural resource agencies at multiple levels of governance. Reporting to the Great Plains Executive Director, the Director is a senior leadership team member and will play a crucial role in developing and executing conservation priorities and measures for the Great Plains strategic plan. This highly organized and effective conservation leader will bring a collaborative drive, inspirational energy, and proven programmatic development and execution skills to the role, leading a dynamic portfolio of conservation actions across the Great Plains grounded in efforts to address the growing threats of biodiversity loss.
- In collaboration with the Audubon Great Plains Executive Director, establish Audubon as a trusted conservation partner that effectively stewards, conserves, and restores habitats in the Great Plains for the benefit of birds and people.
- Develop and implement conservation strategies and programs for the region, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, that align with the National Audubon Society mission.
- Maximize Audubon’s conservation impact by collaborating across Audubon’s national and regional science, conservation, engagement, communications, policy, and development teams.
- Further, Great Plains conservation works by building, leading, and contributing to partnerships and coalitions with a network of land and wildlife management agencies, public land management agencies, indigenous groups, sovereign nations, NGOs, research organizations, and community scientists.
- Act as a spokesperson for Audubon’s state-level conservation work in regional consortia, the media, and other public forums.
- Lead and expand Audubon Great Plains working lands conservation and landowner engagement programs across priority grassland habitats by providing strategic, operational guidance and support for a growing Great Plains Working Lands Program. Collaborate with partners and landowners to increase the acreage of bird habitat that Audubon protects, stewards, and facilitates management of in the Great Plains.
- Supervise regular and seasonal Great Plains conservation staff. Engage volunteers as needed.
- In close coordination with Audubon Center leadership and staff, assist with development and aid in implementing Audubon Center conservation and habitat management plans; ensure local efforts align with Great Plains and Audubon strategic goals and metrics.
- Expand urban conservation action and partnerships in cities and communities across the state in collaboration with the engagement team members and Audubon Center staff.
- Oversee avian and grassland monitoring projects and data analysis on working lands projects, centers, and beyond.
- Analyze data Audubon staff and community scientists collected to inform management strategies and understand and apply outcomes to conservation actions.
- Use relevant research and scientific information to inform working lands, center habitat management programs, conservation planning, and work for birds and future surveys.
- Design, implement, and direct measures of success focused on birds and habitats across priority landscapes.
- Contribute to National Audubon working groups to support the development of scientific tools, guidelines, and conservation strategies.
- Provide technical expertise related to birds and habitats in the areas covered by the Great Plains to internal and external audiences and partners.
- Responsible for researching, writing, implementing, and managing grants that support conservation work.
- Manage and actively collaborate with development partners for tasks to include solicitation of gifts, prospect development, and proposal writing. Specific activities may include but are not limited to drafting budgets and scopes of work, writing proposals, leading site visits and bird walks, and giving presentations to existing and prospective donors.
- Work with Development staff and other team members to design and write scopes of work for multi-year, multi-partner proposals to public and private funding institutions.
Qualifications and Experience:
- 10+ years experience in natural resources management, biology, or related environmental or conservation work, with at least three years of management experience leading professional teams and programs. Experience in prairie ecosystems preferred.
- Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Conservation Biology, Natural Resources, or a closely related field required; Advanced degree strongly preferred. An equivalent combination of education and experience will also be considered.
- Well-versed in conservation, biology, and identifying local and regional birds, native plants, and other wildlife.
- Strong understanding of the culture of habitat restoration in a private land working landscape. Previous experience in the realm of adaptive management.
- Knowledge and appreciation of the people, values, current conservation, and policy issues throughout the Great Plains. Demonstrated understanding of conservation issues in the Great Plains is a must.
- Excellent leadership and collaborative ethics, as demonstrated in previous work. Must possess strong interpersonal and social skills and a positive attitude.
- Proven fundraising experience, including writing and overseeing grants, cultivating and managing individual donors, writing proposals for foundations, developing partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies that financially support our work, and federal program grant writing.
- Must be self-motivated and willing to work in a flexible, non-structured environment.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to synthesize and communicate technical and complex information to technical and non-technical audiences.
- Proficiency with Microsoft Office, as well as knowledge of GIS technologies.
- Ability and willingness to travel locally and out of state and be comfortable working evenings and weekends as job demands.
- A valid driver’s license is necessary.
- Ability to work outdoors, in all weather conditions, and on varying terrain, with or without accommodation; must be able to carry field equipment at times, with or without compromise.