NRDC - Oceans Program - Roger Arliner Young Marine Conservation Fellow

POSITION TITLE: Roger Arliner Young Marine Conservation Fellow

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM: Oceans                             

REPORTS TO: Oceans Program Director or her Designee

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time                             

LOCATION: San Francisco, CA or Washington, DC                    



Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate conservation-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color. The RAY Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship designed to equip recent college graduates with the tools, experiences, support, and community they need to become leaders in the conservation sector—one that, in our visions of the future, fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of the United States.


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) uses law, science and the support of more than 2 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. Reviving the world’s oceans is one of NRDC’s top strategic priorities.  NRDC works to promote healthy and vital oceans by preserving special places and species, defending against destructive and harmful practices like overfishing and harmful offshore drilling, and planning for a healthy ocean future.  Current initiatives include protecting the Atlantic coast from offshore oil and gas drilling, protecting and strengthening the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, advancing ocean protections in the Arctic and on the high seas, protecting California’s ocean environment through marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries, and strategic efforts to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.


The RAY fellow will assist staff members in ongoing advocacy efforts in ocean conservation.  The fellow will have an opportunity to work on a range of ocean issues which may include preparing research and policy papers related to: promoting sustainable fisheries management in California; protecting California’s marine protected areas and other important ocean habitats from industrial impacts, such as from oil and gas development and desalination plants; reducing illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing; minimizing the impacts of offshore wind development; improving conservation of sharks and rays; and working to defend against ocean policy rollbacks at the federal level.  Through this work, the Fellow will gain skills in research and analysis, written advocacy, oral advocacy, and participation in regulatory processes.  The Fellow will be an integral part of NRDC’s team and will gain exposure to a variety of activities including legislative advocacy, science meetings, and advocacy strategies including meetings with stakeholders


  • Research science and policy questions related to NRDC’s ocean priorities,
  • Prepare briefing papers and summarize findings and recommendations based on the above research,
  • Participate in working group meetings of ocean’s team and attend meetings with coalition partners,
  • Collaborate with oceans staff and provide programmatic support as needed, and
  • Depending on where the RAY Fellow is ultimately located, work will also include a focus on California/West Coast oceans policy, with opportunities to engage with state-level issues, conservation organizations and communities (SF office), or on federal Oceans policy, with opportunities to engage with Congress and conservation organizations (DC office).


In addition to the responsibilities at the host institution outlined above, RAY Fellows will spend, on average, 2-4 hours per week (5-10% of work time) on the following:

  • Actively communicating and building community with their RAY Fellow cohort and previous RAY Fellows.
  • Attending monthly check-ins calls (including 1-on-1 check-ins with RAY program staff and group calls with their RAY Fellow cohort).
  • Meeting regularly with mentors both inside and outside the host institution.
  • Attending monthly professional development webinars, trainings, and other opportunities to build knowledge and skills.
  • Developing a Personal Leadership Plan (PLP) with the support of supervisor(s), mentors, RAY program staff, and their RAY Fellow cohort. The PLP will serve as a tool for self-reflection, planning, and assessing progress towards professional, personal, and leadership goals.
  • Preparing and leading an hour-long end-of-year webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2019.
  • A 3-day Leadership Retreat in February 2020.
  • At least one other in-person training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial / ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be less than 2 years out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2019 (we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


  • An interest in and passion for the field of marine/ocean conservation.
  • Strong leadership potential and excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Strong research, presentation, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively with a diverse group of professionals.
  • Knowledge about marine science and policy is a plus.


This is a one-year, full-time fellowship starting on or after July 15, 2019.


The Fellowship is paid and sponsored by Natural Resources Defense Council, who also offers a competitive benefits package, as well as excellent mentoring, networking and other opportunities.


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website:
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a curriculum vitae or a resume, two essay and one short answer responses, and a letter of support.

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than April 15, 2019. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Program Manager, Jordan Williams, via email at [email protected].


Natural Resources Defense Council is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, handicap, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. NRDC is continually seeking to diversify its staff, particularly to broaden opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy.