RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Columbia River System Salmon Natural Resource Specialist

Job Location

Portland, OR (temporarily remote)


Published By

Publisher Name

Type of Job



$40k baseline salary

Published Date

Feb 2, 2021

About the job

Apply Now


Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation and clean energy, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate environmentally-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 and clean energy sectors—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.


NOAA Fisheries is responsible for conservation of the Nation’s living marine resources. Marine resources include species like Pacific salmon and steelhead which spend the greater part of their life cycle in marine waters, and the lesser part in fresh waters. NOAA Fisheries uses its authorities granted through the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), Federal Power Act (FPA), and other federal statutes to manage, protect, and conserve these species and the habitat that sustains them.

The Columbia River is the largest river in the American West. Its drainage basin covers most of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, and large areas of Montana and British Columbia. The Columbia River and its tributaries are developed with many large dams and reservoirs which provide hydroelectric power; navigation; flood risk management; and water storage for agricultural irrigation, and for MRCI (municipal, residential, commercial, industrial), and for environmental conservation purposes.

Fourteen large, federally owned dams and reservoirs within the basin (collectively referred to as the Columbia River System or CRS) are operated in concert to accomplish all of those purposes. The coordinated operation of these projects (CRS operations or CRSO) is governed by the federal operating agencies’ (Bonneville Power Administration, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corps of Engineers) 2020 Record of Decision (ROD), which completed a multi-year NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process; and NOAA Fisheries’ 2020 CRS Biological Opinion (Opinion), completing Section 7(a)(2) consultation under the ESA. ICBD is responsible for conserving salmon and steelhead species from the Middle Columbia, Upper Columbia, and Snake River basins that must migrate past multiple mainstem CRS projects to complete their life cycles.

With respect to the CRS, Columbia Hydropower Branch staff perform three principal duties:

● Periodically producing the Opinion on the continued operation and maintenance of the CRS and it’s mitigation and research, monitoring, and enhancement programs,

● Assisting the federal operating agencies to operate the CRS in accordance with the ROD and Opinion through participation in multiple committees made up of federal, state, and tribal representatives (collectively referred to as the Regional Forum), and

● Continually reviewing information from research, monitoring, and evaluation programs and interpreting evolving science for application to the above two elements. NOAA Fisheries’ WCR welcomes diversity of all kinds on our teams, and encourages increasing representation and inclusion of racial minorities. For this fellowship, ICBD’s Columbia Hydropower Branch is looking for candidates that are interested in 1) learning about Pacific salmon and steelhead migratory behavior, 2) learning about the fish passage structures and operations at mainstem federal dams, 3) working collaboratively on complex technical issues with WCR staff and representatives of a broad array of federal, state, and tribal agencies, and 4) positively contributing to the culture of NOAA Fisheries WCR.


The Hydro Branch Fellow will work fulltime in the Portland duty station and will interact closely with the six senior biologists in the branch office. As of this writing (1/21/2021) WCR’s offices are closed due to COVID. The incumbent of this position will telework from their residence until the Portland office is reopened.

ICBD has a teamwork tradition and RAY Fellows may rely upon generous advice and help from colleagues. An appreciable body of guidance, templates, and precedents are available for most tasks. Higher performance levels entail original outside-of-the-box thinking. Strongest contributions are made by those who independently find relevant new information, and who integrate information of different types to develop innovative solutions.


● Accompany senior biologists to interagency meetings to discuss ongoing CRS operations and adjust them as indicated to comply with ROD and Opinion.

● Accompany senior biologists on field trips (if allowed by COVID-19 protocols) to CRS projects to observe the operation of fish passage systems.

● Assist senior biologists by collecting and analyzing data and relevant reports and contributing to staff memos, presentations, etc.

● Perform as designated lead to investigate the biological effects of some aspect of the CRS or its operation on NMFS trust species, including collecting, compiling and analyzing data, preparing a staff memo to document the analysis and conclusions or recommendations, and presenting this information to WCR senior biologists or policy staff, and, potentially, at Regional Forum meetings.


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) in their 2nd year 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-fellowship webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

● A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2021.

● A 3-day Mid-Fellowship Leadership Retreat in August 2022.

● At least one other training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

● Come from a racial / ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and clean energy and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

● Be no more than 1 year out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2021(we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).

● Have not had a full-time job in conservation or clean energy.

● Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


▪ Bachelor’s Degree by the time of employment, with major or minor in a natural resources science (examples: biology, hydrology, limnology, oceanography, natural resources management).

▪ An interest in the field of conservation and natural resource management.

▪ Demonstrated intellect and leadership.

▪ Effective written and verbal communication skills.

▪ An eagerness to learn.

▪ Ability and willingness to interact professionally and constructively with people holding different viewpoints.

▪ Ability and willingness to work both independently and collaboratively as part of a team.

▪ Ability and willingness to learn about complex scientific and technical issues relating to salmon and steelhead migration and fish passage structures.

▪ Ability and willingness to learn about NOAA Fisheries’ policies and authorities.

▪ Ability and willingness to identify issues, communicate effectively, solve problems, and develop practical recommendations for ICBD technical and policy staff.


This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one-year renewal) starting on or after July 15, 2021.


The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by the Environmental Leadership Program, who offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities. More details to come.


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

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

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 26, 2021. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Conservation Program Manager, Guilu Murphy, via email at guilu@elpnet.org.

NOAA Fisheries 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. NOAA Fisheries 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.

NOAA Fisheries is committed to achieving diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization. We recognize that this is not a short-term goal but one that requires a deliberate, sustained effort. Understanding that diversity and inclusion are essential to fulfilling our mission, we will strive to cultivate a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility, fairness and belonging. We recognize that employees, supervisors, and leaders at all levels play a critical role in realizing this vision.