Ocean Conservancy - Trash Free Seas® Team - RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow

POSITION TITLE: RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Trash Free Seas®

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM: Trash Free Seas® Team                     

REPORTS TO: Senior Manager, Trash Free Seas® Team    

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time, Non-Exempt (hourly)                   

LOCATION: Ocean Conservancy – 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.


Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean. Our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and the communities and wildlife that depend on it.


This role will bridge the different elements of the trash program while working across the communications, government and development teams. Having day to day exposure to so many different teams throughout the organization will provide a great learning opportunity. The Fellow will experience different working habits, leadership styles, be a key participant in the coordinated effort for a project to make it from theoretical potential to complete.  The Fellow will be able to leave Ocean Conservancy with several finished products including quantifiable impact on the marine environment, communication and outreach materials, and contributions to published, peer-reviewed science.

Similar to many other environmental issues, marine debris—including lost fishing gear—and the lack of waste infrastructure impacts communities around the U.S. and world unequally, often based on socioeconomic status. Working together, the Trash Free Seas® (TFS) Team and RAY Fellow have the opportunity to bring global inequity and potential solutions to the forefront of the marine debris discussion. The Fellow will also be working on messaging and graphics that must be accessible to all audiences. Thus, a critical piece to this work will be collaborating with the team to ensure messages are inclusive and applicable to a global audience of incredible diversity.


The portfolio of the TFS program is expanding rapidly; as such the Fellow will have the opportunity to work closely with the entire team across the different pillars of the program including staff focusing on the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, international plastics policy, International Coastal Cleanup, Trash Free Seas Alliance, and our science work.  Moreover, the Fellow will be working as a critical bridge between the TFS and Communications teams expanding their science communication skills and giving Ocean Conservancy’s work context in the global plastics discourse. This will require frequent interaction with the entire Communications team. However, what is most notable about this position will be the engagement with incredible external teams. Working with two of Ocean Conservancy’s key science partners, Dr. Kara Lavender Law and the waste management experts at DSM Environmental Services, will provide the Fellow with the experience of learning from some of the most well respected academics in the world on the issue of ocean plastics.  This Fellow will truly be at the nexus of conservation, advocacy and academia.


Plastics research work/projects:

  • Assist in the research by working with TFS staff and Dr. Kara Lavender Law on:
    • Data gathering, i.e., identifying and securing local data on waste management and recycling systems in communities around the U.S.
    • Data management, i.e., compiling data gathered into a central repository and organizing these data for analysis.
    • Data analysis, i.e., modeling different ocean plastic scenarios using analytical tools and models developed by Dr. Lavender Law et al.
  • Work with TFS and Communications staff to put the research and other information about the problem of ocean plastics in the context of the global plastics discourse. This will include producing blogs to increase public awareness of:
    • The importance of effective recycling and waste management in the U.S.
    • Gaps in certain communities (if appropriate)
    • The public’s role in reducing plastics flows into the ocean
    • Potential policy solutions, as appropriate

Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) Work/Projects:

  • Work with the GGGI manager and TFS staff to orchestrate a ghost gear removal project in Casco Bay, Maine. This will include connecting with our partners at the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation to ensure preparations are in place to execute the removal efforts, e.g., coordinating data collection during the recovery effort and arranging agreements that determine how functional items are returned to their original owners and how the rest gets recycled.
    • What is “Ghost Gear”?
      • Ghost gear is fishing gear that is either abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded, and it threatens marine life and local fishing economies.
      • Ghost gear removals/cleanups:
        • Are partnerships between conservationists and fishers.
        • Protect marine life by reducing the risks of entanglement in lost gear, and aid fishers who lose money because of ghost fishing, lost fishing time and gear replacement costs.
  • Conduct research on the conservation importance of removing gear from Gulf of Maine waters, especially Casco Bay, along with the global equity implications of this work.
  • Work with TFS and Communications staff to build and share a new and hopeful U.S. narrative about lost and abandoned fishing gear. This will include producing blogs and drafting media content that tell the story of how ghost gear removal and cleanups help protect marine life and local fishing economies.
  • Support Ocean Conservancy’s GGGI global data portal engagement by managing data uploading and its analysis for reporting.


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.


  • Interest in the field of conservation.
  • Experience in coursework/field work pertaining to biology, ecology, environmental sciences and/or engineering.
  • Ability to conduct scientific literature review, research and synthesis.
  • Proficiency in translating and communicating science to general audiences; strong writing skills preferred.
  • Experience performing analyses on large datasets a plus.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • An eagerness to learn.


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.


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


The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, who offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities.


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  • Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website: https://rayconservationfellows.org/apply.
  • 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].


Ocean Conservancy 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. Ocean Conservancy 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.