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RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Florida Policy Fellow

Job Location

St. Petersburg, FL


Type of Job



$40,000 baseline salary

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Mar 10, 2021

About the job

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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 find solutions for our water planet. Knowledge-based, our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations.

Ocean Conservancy has worked in Florida for more than three decades on the entire gamut of marine conservation issues facing the state. In recent years, as decreasing water quality and abundance, extreme weather, sea level rise, increasing marine debris, and threats to marine wildlife have surged in Florida, Ocean Conservancy has prioritized the development of policy and advocacy solutions that will protect the marine resources of the Sunshine State.


Ocean Conservancy’s Florida Program is in need of a zealous and meticulous analyst who is passionate about protecting the Floridian marine environment. From the Everglades, to coral reefs, to salt marshes, to mangrove swamps, Floridian water is the inherent ecological and cultural fabric of the state, and is in desperate need of protection. As a traditional swing state, Florida provides unique opportunities to create champions for robust conservation measures aimed at water quality and sea level rise out of non-traditional environmental allies. In Florida, it doesn’t matter what political cloth you’re cut from or if you’re from the right or the left side of the political spectrum. What’s important is preserving the state’s critically important and deeply iconic environment.

We would welcome a Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Fellow to bring their unique perspective to analyzing and developing policies that would protect the Floridian marine environment, with a focus on not just what is prudent for preserving our coastal ecology, but also what is good for the vast and diverse range of ocean stakeholders in the state. Florida is the frontlines for the country when it comes to dealing with climate change related coastal impacts, and the deep racial and economic divides within the state will result in extremely varied outcomes as the climate crisis takes hold. We highly encourage the right Fellow to tackle these issues of intersectional environmentalism head on.

While the focus for this position will be on Florida, the RAY Fellow will have opportunities to meet, interview and immerse themselves in the lives of ocean advocates from across Ocean Conservancy’s critical program areas: ocean science, ocean planning, Trash Free Seas©, legal affairs, Arctic, and fish conservation. They are some of the best and brightest minds working in marine conservation.

In addition to invaluable work experience, the RAY Fellow will be mentored by the Ocean Conservancy’s Florida Conservation team to hone their skills on policy and regulatory analysis, state and local level government relations, building communication and outreach strategies for complex regulatory frameworks, as well as having access to professional development opportunities to develop and build desired skills. The RAY Fellow will also have several opportunities to network with other NGO partners, participate in sessions with external decision-makers, offer creative solutions and contribute to conservation.


Our three-member Florida Conservation team at Ocean Conservancy is joined by an array of cross-cutters from throughout the organization, including Government Relations, Communications, Digital Outreach, and Development. Our diverse past experience ranges from litigation and legal advocacy and the preparation and delivery of Congressional testimony and other public input, to staffing a Congressional office and bilingual outreach campaigns. Today, we are wholly invested in developing robust and responsive policies that will protect the Floridian environment that we so love. We are creative and fun. We take our jobs seriously.

Ocean Conservancy is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. What that means for our team is being thoughtful about the range of impacts that the policies we advocate for may have on the entire community of stakeholders. It means fighting for what is fair and what is right, even in the face of some of the biggest and most overwhelming challenges we have ever faced, like climate change.

And this is where the RAY Fellow comes in. The RAY Fellow will have opportunities to advocate for the necessity of environmental justice in our policy development, especially in the deeply multicultural, politically bifurcated State of Florida. The RAY Fellow will ardently care for the wild ocean and be deeply committed to ensuring it remains healthy and resilient for generations to come.


Potential projects may include:

State policy analysis and development: The RAY Fellow will analyze existing Florida state legislation pertaining to critical marine conservation issues that are the backbone of Ocean Conservancy’s legislative priorities, including water quality and abundance, marine debris, sea level rise, and climate change for the 2022 and 2023 legislative session.

  • The Fellow will determine where gaps exist and where opportunities exist to create more conservation-oriented policies on these issues for the upcoming two sessions.
  • Creating policy memos to inform Florida program strategy will also provide opportunities to work with elected officials to shape legislation.
  • Beyond state legislation, the Fellow will also have the opportunity to become immersed in the development of new regulations being developed by state level agencies (including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs) that focus on water quality and abundance, sea level rise, marine debris, and marine wildlife protections.

Local government policy analysis and development: The RAY Fellow will examine existing local government ordinances and regulations for Ocean Conservancy’s key government partners under our flagship Shores Forward Initiative, and find areas where we can work within these governments to improve and protect the marine environment at the granular, local level.

  • The fellow will have the opportunity to help write and promote science-based marine debris regulations for some of the largest municipalities in Florida.

Outreach and Education: The Fellow will work with an existing stakeholder network to help develop advocates for Ocean Conservancy’s objectives in the state, and will help to build new stakeholder allies from diverse communities.

  • Once the pandemic has abated, this will include attending in-person meetings and events in Florida to educate the public on Ocean Conservancy priorities; for example, this could include attending policy roundtables, tabling events (such as boat shows and festivals), or educating participants in fishing tournaments.
  • Depending on the candidate’s interest, the Fellow will have the opportunity to interact with the media to convey Ocean Conservancy’s key positions and perspectives on marine protections. This includes authoring articles and opinion pieces for print media.
  • The opportunity will provide blogs and website materials for on issues pertaining to Florida’s marine environment.


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.


  • Bachelor’s Degree with a graduation date between June 2020 and June 2021. Public policy, public administration, political science majors preferred, but not exclusive
  • Firm foundation in environmental justice
  • Excellent written communications skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Self-directed


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


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 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:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website:
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a curriculum vitae or a resume, response 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 28, 2021. Transcripts and additional writing samples are notrequired. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Conservation Program Coordinator, Guilu Murphy, via email at


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.

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