Chief Ecologist

L-A-D Foundation

Salem, Missouri

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details 65,000-80,000
Required Experience 2 - 6 years


The L-A-D Foundation was established by Leo A. Drey in 1962 to preserve lands of natural and cultural significance and undertake related scientific, educational, and charitable activities.  Its holdings grew to nearly 4,000 acres in fourteen units, seven of them state designated natural areas leased to the Missouri Department of Conservation, two areas and a trail system leased to Missouri Department of Natural Resources for management by Missouri State Parks, and nearly 1,000 acres of land under scenic easement to the NPS-Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  In 2004, Leo Drey and his wife Kay donated to the foundation their Pioneer Forest, now about 144,000 acres in six counties in the southeastern Missouri Ozarks, to be managed as a demonstration working forest in the public interest.

The L-A-D Foundation is a Missouri private operating foundation dedicated to exemplary stewardship of Pioneer Forest and other natural and cultural areas and to scientific research, education, public recreation, and encouragement for projects and policies that have a positive influence on the Missouri Ozark region and beyond.


Enticed by the theme “#Catch the Current,” visitors from around the country come to Salem, Missouri, and surrounding counties to enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities available here. Every year, many of those visitors choose to make the Salem area their home. Community spirit, family values, a rural lifestyle, affordable land and housing, and recreational opportunities make Salem and Dent County a wonderful place to work and find adventure. Salem is located a few miles north of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and close to Montauk State Park,

 which contains the headwaters of the Current River, where hardwood trees, rock ledges, caves, springs, gravel bars, and towering dolomite bluffs line the banks for an idyllic Ozark scene. Transportation in the area includes well-maintained highways, easy access to the interstate highway system, a local airport for light aircraft, and a shuttle van with local and regional service.


General Description:

The Chief Ecologist position, headquartered at the Pioneer Forest office in Salem, Missouri, is responsible for the ecological stewardship program on all L-A-D Foundation lands. This includes formulating strategic and annual stewardship plans, implementing and maintaining a natural features inventory on Pioneer Forest, implementing on the ground conservation for defined ecological outcomes, monitoring the results, and partnering with a wide variety of federal, state, and local entities to achieve our goals. An essential aspect of the position is to communicate closely in ongoing fashion with the foundation’s forestry program in planning and implementation of ecological management on Pioneer Forest, particularly with the parallel position of Chief Forester. The Chief Ecologist will work with foundation leadership to define the position’s role and its desired outcomes in cultivating partnerships for conservation results with key stakeholders surrounding L-A-D lands. The position directly supervises a Fire and Stewardship Manager and an Ecologist, maintains close ongoing communication with the Forest and Stewardship Director and the Chief Forester, assists the Stewardship Committee of the Board of Directors in concert with the Chief Forester, and works with a variety of partners and contractors as needed to accomplish the mission. The position requires an approximate 50/50 split of field and office time.

Hours:  40 hours/week, salaried exempt

Salary:  $65,000-$80,000/year


L-A-D Foundation will offer the successful candidate a highly competitive compensation package and a comprehensive benefits package which includes an employer-matched tax-advantaged retirement account (401(k)), paid vacation, sick leave, and holidays, health insurance, employee development and training, a clothing allowance, and a duty vehicle.

Specific Duties:

Administration and Ecology Program Management

  • Collaborate and communicate with all board, staff, and partners to deliver excellence in management of the L-A-D Foundation’s natural resources.
  • Supervise L-A-D’s Fire and Stewardship Manager, Ecologist, a seasonal stewardship crew and contractors, monitoring and inspecting the work of contractors on Foundation lands.
  • Oversee development of the annual budget for the ecology program and assist in the overall budget development.
  • Ensure that the ecology program staff follow L-A-D Foundation Board policies, comply with the foundation’s Employee Handbook, and follow the land and stewardship ethics of our founder Leo Drey.
  • Work with Executive Director to cultivate financial support from foundations, donors, and/or agencies and help with identifying grant opportunities and with grant writing.
  • Assist with the revision of the Land Consolidation Plan, including ArcGIS mapping support; advise of possible suitable purchases when available.
  • Coordinate with the Fire and Stewardship Program Manager to support volunteer efforts on foundation lands, including cave research, trail maintenance, and monitoring of flora and fauna.

Ecological Management

  • Assist the Executive Director and the Forest and Stewardship Director by providing leadership in all matters of managing the forest, including ecology, forestry, stewardship, recreation, and community outreach.
  • Provide excellent communication to support integration of ecological management with forest management on Pioneer Forest. Work with forestry staff to understand the methods of single-tree selection forestry, logging, and inventory requiring regular site visits to timber sales with forestry staff.
  • Update the 5-year Ecological Management Plan for Pioneer Forest, and present to the LAD Foundation Board for approval. Ensure that all stewardship and ecological land management is done according to the plans approved by the L-A-D Foundation Board.
  • Develop and oversee updates of site-specific management plans for Priority Resource Areas, as appropriate. Working with the Fire and Stewardship Manager and forestry staff, develop annual stewardship plans consistent with management plans and with ecologically measurable outcomes.
  • Build a comprehensive program to detect, map, treat, and monitor invasive species. Work with partners, including the Scenic Rivers Invasive Species Partnership and L-A-D lands managing partners, to support treatment efforts.
  • Conduct training on important aspects of ecological management to support integration among all staff responsible for management on Pioneer Forest, including forest ecology, natural features, invasive species, and natural communities.
  • Provide education to the public in forest ecology, natural community management, and stewardship.

L-A-D Foundation Properties Beyond Pioneer Forest

  • Foster a close working relationship with the foundation’s managing partners of L-A-D owned lands (“Legacy Lands”), meeting at least annually to discuss management, challenges, and needs.
  • Review updated management plans, annual stewardship plans, Natural Areas reports, and provide feedback to partners, as needed.
  • In coordination with the Fire and Stewardship Manager, annually visit and monitor the condition of each Legacy Land site to ensure management needs are met.
  • As needed and in coordination with partners, oversee special projects (e.g., Hickory Canyon’s trail improvements).
  • Serve as a neighbor and advocate for the continued protection and management of

Legacy Lands.

  • Recommend additional parcels to enhance Legacy Lands as needed to adequately protect these areas and consolidate boundaries.


  • Oversee development and implementation of a Natural Features Inventory for Pioneer Forest to guide adaptive management of natural communities and features and record qualifying features in the Missouri Natural Heritage Database.
  • Continue to develop ArcGIS capacity to support management planning and on-the-ground management activities.
  • Develop and train staff on tools to gather monitoring data to support the ecological management goals of the foundation.
  • Consider other routine monitoring needs and budget for an appropriate level of continued monitoring at Priority Resource Areas.
  • Work to build relationships with universities, colleges, researchers, and volunteers to support monitoring and research on foundation lands.

Professional Experience and Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Fisheries, Forestry, Wildlife Management, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, or related field. An advanced degree is highly desirable.
  • Significant (5 or more years) of progressively responsible professional experience in the ecology field with particular emphasis on implementation of on-the-ground, natural community management, including control of invasive species. 
  • Staff management and supervision (2 or more years) and mentoring experience.
  • Familiarity with plants, animals, and Ozark natural communities or the motivation and ability to acquire this knowledge.
  • Experience using ArcGIS for conservation planning and monitoring is highly desirable. 
  • Experience with prescribed fire implementation and monitoring fire response ecology is highly desirable.
  • Ability to pass a work capacity test for wildland firefighters (aka Pack Test) is highly desirable.
  • Outdoor recreation management experience, including trail design and building, is highly desirable. 
  • Experience in writing and administering public and private sector grants for conservation is highly desirable.
  • Experience working with a board and partner organizations to achieve stated goals is highly desirable.

Desired Attributes:

  • Strong organization and project management skills, including interpersonal and communications skills.
  • Enthusiasm for, and ability to, inform and inspire staff, partners, and the public about the ecology of the Ozarks.
  • Strength and experience in building effective partnerships and working collaboratively.
  • Strong problem-solving skills and an eagerness to learn.
  • Willingness to travel, within Missouri and occasionally beyond, as needed to meet partners, build understanding of conservation issues, and increase professional knowledge.
  • A passion for natural resource conservation, natural community restoration, and sustainable forestry.


To learn more about the L-A-D Foundation visit www.ladfoundation.org.

To learn more about the position, you may contact our Director of Forestry and Stewardship Jason Green. Jason may be reached at Jason.Green@ladfoundation.org.


If you are interested in the position, please submit a cover letter and resume to jason.green@ladfoundation.org.  Include “L-A-D Chief Ecologist” in the subject line.  Please note, applications will be accepted until the role is filled.


L-A-D Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, creed, color, ancestry, medical condition, or any other characteristic protected by law.

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.

Category Ecology , Forestry , General / Stewardship
Tags GIS