Conservation Specialist

Bighorn River Alliance, Inc.

Billings, Montana

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $40-60K
Deadline Jan 01, 2024

About Us
The Bighorn River Alliance (BHRA) is a small, but growing non-profit, mission driven organization located in Billings, Montana that works to protect, preserve, and enhance the long-term health and viability of the Bighorn River recognizing its significance to the Wild Trout fishery, the agricultural community, and the Crow Nation through which it flows. The organization pursues its mission through programs in research and restoration, river stewardship, and education & outreach in collaboration with interagency partnerships, river stakeholders and its vested membership. In 2018 BHRA expanded its commitment to science-based research efforts on the Bighorn River through development of the Research Initiative program (RI).  The RI program works to increase understanding of the Bighorn River through scientific inquiry, data collection and monitoring efforts that can benefit the river and its wild trout, influence management decisions, and direct BHRA research goals moving forward. Currently, the RI work program is guided by the BHRA Board Research Chair and executed through the hire of external contractors, and volunteers.  BHRA seeks to hire a Conservation Specialist to join the BHRA full-time staff of two, to perform duties in the field and office that help centralize, support, and grow the RI program. Learn more at https://bighornriveralliance.org/.

Position Summary
This position provides a great opportunity to work in active grass-roots conservation with a non-profit organization in the Billings/Fort Smith Area.  The Conservation Specialist will participate in all sectors of non-profit work but will have a primary responsibility to perform duties related to the function, execution, and growth of the BHRA Research Initiative program. The Conservation Specialist will work closely with the BHRA Research Chair, contractors, and volunteers to become well acquainted with current RI work programs, and learn the skills needed pertaining to data collection, equipment upkeep, monitoring efforts, and data entry/analysis to assume duties currently performed by contractors and volunteers. Applicants should be highly motivated individuals, with exceptional critical thinking skills and should have an interest/focus in the environmental sciences and the outdoors; have great interest in learning various methods of monitoring, with great attention to implementing proper execution of various monitoring techniques; have excellent communication skills; be able to work well alongside others;  be physically able to work independently outside and in the river; have a valid driver’s license; be flexible to work on an array of projects; be comfortable learning and implementing various monitoring/data collection techniques, and have database organization and analysis skills.  The Conservation Specialist will work closely with the BHRA Research Chair and Executive Director and collaborate with interagency partners, contractors, interact with the public, and work with staff, board members and volunteers within BHRA.  

Major Responsibilities

Conservation Specialist will take a leadership role in:

  • Water Quality Monitoring Program: become familiar with the BHRA Water Quality SAP and work to collect water samples on the Bighorn River and Bighorn Lake. Work will require the proper training and knowledge of grab sample collection and use and maintenance of the BHRA water quality sonde. The specialist will perform work pertaining to BHRA water sample collection, delivery of samples to lab, data entry of results, as well as maintaining  an organized database in which data results can be easily accessed and analyzed as needed.
  • Macroinvertebrate Monitoring: become familiar with the BHRA Macroinvertebrate SAP and work with contractor to take over macroinvertebrate sample collection on the Bighorn River. The specialist will be responsible for learning (from the contractor) how to properly collect samples and at what frequency, how to use equipment, and how to process and prepare samples for shipping/analysis.
  • Side Channel Restoration Monitoring: lead duties related to monitoring restored side channel function and use on the Bighorn River.  Conservation Specialist will work with BHRA Research Committee and contractors in creating a side channel monitoring plan and take lead in field monitoring efforts that include: survey of channel heads and profiles, measurement of river flow, and habitat and fish use assessments.
  • Drone Program: become familiar with operating a drone through training provided by current BHRA drone operator and become a FAA licensed drone operator.  Be capable of learning how to program fly paths to collect imagery and video needed in to support BHRA monitoring efforts.  

Other Duties and Responsibilities

Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Stewardship Support: Specialist may help with BHRA stewardship activities pertaining to boat ramp assessments, angler concerns, guide data collection programs and river clean up events.
  • Communication and Outreach Support: Specialist will be expected to contribute frequently to the BHRA monthly and bi-annual newsletters, blog site and social media channels where they will provide updates on their work to the BHRA membership.
  • Grant Support and Donor Relations: Specialist will be expected to help with grant reporting and applications as needed, as well as maintaining communications with RI key donors.
  • BHRA Board Meetings/Partner Meetings : Specialist will participate in planning meetings with BHRA Research Committee, partner agencies and relevant community meetings; may be expected to give presentations on current work and findings.

Qualification and Skills

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in relevant discipline(s) with demonstrated high level of academic achievement
  • Experience and demonstrated aptitude with relevant database and analysis software- primarily excel but experience with Program R and GIS very helpful.
  • Physically able to work alone, outside and in the river, and in all weather conditions
  • Some experience in various biological field methodologies and operation/maintenance of associated equipment including vehicles, trailers, boats and scientific tools
  • Ability to work with a diverse group of partners, including local, state, federal and tribal agencies, and other non-profit organizations, anglers, farmers and irrigators, landowners, hydroelectric providers, and the public
  • Interest in and willingness to become familiar with whatever subject or develop whatever secondary skill required to successfully complete the job at hand
  • Fly-fishing knowledge and experience a plus
  • Drone experience a plus


  • Salary will be at market based on education and experience and will range between $40-60K annually.
  • Employer matched 401K contributions with health care support.
  • All federal and state holidays plus generous vacation days based on years of service.
  • Office is in Billings but as much as 2-3 days per week over the period March-October may require overnighting near the river, most likely in Fort Smith.
  • Preferred start date is April 1, 2024.

How to Apply
Email a cover letter and resume as single PDF to the BHRA Executive Director,  Anne Marie Emery,  at: emery@bighornriveralliance.org. Please add “Conservation Specialist Application” in the subject line.

To learn more about the BHRA and the work we do, please explore the following links:

Bighorn River Alliance website: http://bighornriveralliance.org

Bighorn River Alliance Blog: https://www.bighornriveralliance.org/news

Bighorn River Alliance Facebook: facebook.com/bighornalliance

Bighorn River Alliance Instagram: instagram.com/bighornalliance/

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

Category Ecology, General / Stewardship, Hydrology, Restoration
Tags GIS, Outreach