Conservation Innovation Fellow

Defenders of Wildlife

Washington, DC

Job Type Temporary
Salary Details $67,000 - $75,000
Required Experience 0 - 1 years


CLASSIFICATION: Professional 3 – Permanent Term 

SALARY: $67,000 - $75,000F

LSA:  Exempt


Center for Conservation Innovation

REPORTS TO:  Director, Conservation Data Science


LAST REVISED:  April, 2024 


The conservation innovation fellowship is a one-year, full-time position with the possibility of an extension to two years based in Defenders’ Center for Conservation Innovation (CCI) in the Washington, DC headquarters. The position is intended for a highly qualified individual committed to wildlife and natural resource conservation. The fellow’s primary work will revolve around the development of public- and internal-facing web applications for wildlife conservation. At CCI we pioneer creative, pragmatic conservation solutions at the intersection of science, technology, and policy. We identify current and emerging conservation challenges, develop solutions that improve conservation outcomes, and use a suite of techniques and partnerships to advocate for those solutions. Making data and decision-support tools widely and easily available for those involved in conservation, and applications development is an important part of our work. 

The fellow can expect to work primarily on one or two main projects during the course of the fellowship, but will also be an important part of the creative process for innovation that involves all members of CCI. Ambition and creativity, with a strong desire to translate data and knowledge into real-world change for conservation, are essential in this position.  This role requires initiative because the incumbent has a large degree of autonomy in determining how they build out the applications they work on. The fellowship can have a flexible start date based on the academic calendar, as necessary. 

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES Under the supervision of the Director of Conservation Data Science, and working closely with other members of the conservation data science team and other CCI teams, the fellow will:

  • Assist and advise in the planning and design of data science products, web apps, and decision support tools.
  • Lead the development of web-first applications to integrate existing conservation data into a toolkit for conservation.
  • Create a pilot application and test it with audiences from federal agencies, state governments, non-profits (including Defenders), stakeholders, and/or the private sector.  Center staff will facilitate this testing, but the developer will be closely involved in the process. 
  • Build infrastructure required for large-scale deployment of our toolkit.  This will include identifying key technological needs and opportunities for the Center’s development strategy.  
  • Standardize and document methods and protocols. 
  • Work with senior scientists in CCI to identify new technologies and approaches that improve conservation outcomes. 
  • With guidance from the Director of Conservation Data Science, assist Center staff in understanding possibilities and potential limitations of different approaches to developing conservation tools.  
  • Present technical work at internal and external professional events such as project meetings, retreats, roadmap planning, conferences, and staff trainings, and provide input on other CCI projects.  


Education: The fellowship is intended for current or recent graduate students. A recently completed Master’s (M.A./M.S.) degree or Ph.D., or equivalent, or current enrollment in a Ph.D. program (if the program allows the fellow to participate as a fulltime Defenders employee).

Experience: up to three years of relevant experience.An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above. 

Application Requirement: CV or resume, cover letter, and a sample of previous development work. Please submit all three documents in your application to be considered.  

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for All Defenders https://defenders.org/knowledge-skills-and-abilities 

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Professional 3Administrative

  • Ability to accurately maintain electronic and physical records
  • Anticipate and meet the needs of internal and/or external stakeholders delivering excellent service


  • Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders
  • Ability to articulate complex ideas clearly, accurately and concisely
  • Ability to convey effective messages to broad and diverse constituencies
  • Ability and willingness to effectively represent Defenders’ interests in external environments
  • Ability to exert influence and build consensus with internal and external stakeholders

Critical Thinking

  • Ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters with discretion 
  • Strong research and data analysis skills, including ability to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources to produce high quality work products in a consistent, efficient, accurate, and timely manner
  • Creative problem-solving and troubleshooting skills with willingness to experiment and innovate new methods.  
  • Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ work
  • Ability to independently exercise appropriate judgment in response to complex and/or fluid environments
  • Strategic thinker with the ability to take high-level strategy and translate into relatable points and action steps.  

Project Management 

  • Ability to work well under pressure and tight deadlines while balancing competing assignments
  • Ability to remain flexible and adaptable to shifting priorities while remaining responsive to urgent requests 
  • Ability to take ownership of a project or process and to use problem solving skills to resolve issues 
  • Ability to manage deadlines on multiple cross-functional projects in a dynamic environment  
  • Demonstrated ability in managing competing interests on complex issues 
  • Ability to independently initiate project and initiative ideas; managing projects and initiatives through to completion  

Coalition and Community Engagement 

  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to form effective working relationships with diverse constituencies including federal/state agencies; elected officials and their staff; Defenders’ members and donors; private landowners; hunters and anglers; community leaders; religious, scientific, and academic communities; and /or the general public.
  • Ability to lead diverse stakeholders in collaborative activities, to anticipate policy issues impacting wildlife and make recommendations within Defenders, other organizations, and coalitions.
  • Networking skills to engage with leaders in the conservation community, federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other organizations.

Conservation Knowledge

  • Familiarity with Defenders’ legal, scientific, and/or political issues
  • Familiarity with national and regional social, political and ecological landscapes

 Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Conservation Innovation FellowEssential: 

  • Skill with Python web application frameworks (e.g., Django or flask).
  • Ability to work with spatial datasets (GeoTIFF, GeoJSON, shapefile, etc.).
  • Knowledge of various databases, such as PostgreSQL and elasticsearch. 
  • Ability to implement front-end JavaScript frameworks such as React, ember, or Vue.js.
  • Ability to use Git/Github and/or other version control systems.
  • Knowledge of HTML/CSS.
  • Familiarity with, or enthusiasm for, wildlife conservation.

 At least 3 of the following:

  • Knowledge of cloud computing technologies, with preference for experience with Microsoft Azure.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with mobile app development.
  • Ability to conduct or support statistical analysis and data visualization using software such as R, Matlab, or Python, and packages such as Shiny, Pandas, and Plotly. 
  • Ability to manage virtual machines, web servers, and deploy applications.
  • Knowledge of user design and user experience principles. 
  • Ability to communicate the purpose and function of web applications for conservation practice and implementation to non-technical audiences in writing.
  • Skill in presenting applications and technical work products to a variety of audiences including scientists, activists, and agency staff.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES, ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS, PHYSICAL DEMANDS Physical Activities Check all that apply Frequency (N)Never, (O)Occasionally or (C)Constantly often standing or sitting for prolonged periods. C

Adjusting or moving objects up to 10 pounds in all directions. O

Communicating with others to exchange information. C

Repeating motions that may include the wrists, hands and/or fingers. C

Environmental Conditions Check all that apply Frequency (N)Never, (O)Occasionally or (C)Constantly

No adverse environmental conditions expected.

Physical Demands Check only one   

Sedentary work that primarily involves sitting/standing. X

All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

Defenders of Wildlife requires employees who engage in in-person work activities, including business travel or onsite work, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An applicant (i) who is disabled or pregnant or who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates a COVID-19 vaccination or (ii) who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice may request an exemption from this vaccination policy. This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable law. Any medical information concerning an applicant's disability will be treated as a confidential medical record in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.

Defenders of Wildlife provides equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, creed, religion, sex national origin, ethnicity, age, physical or mental disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, personal appearance, family/parental status, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, or any other legally protected characteristic in all personnel actions.

Please be advised this position is union-eligible.


Visit www.defenders.org to apply. 

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

Category Ecology, General / Stewardship, Wildlife