RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Natural Resource Specialist (WA)

Job Location

Lacey, WA (temporarily remote)


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$40k Baseline Salary

Published Date

Feb 2, 2021

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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.

ABOUT NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, Oregon Washington Coastal Area Office, and Washington Coast-Lower Columbia River Branch

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the nation's ocean resources and their habitat. We provide vital services for the nation: productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and healthy ecosystems—all backed by sound science and an ecosystem-based approach to management.

The resilience of our marine ecosystems and coastal communities depends on healthy marine species, including protected species such as whales, sea turtles, corals, and salmon. Under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries works to recover protected marine species while allowing economic and recreational opportunities.

NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce. We have five regional offices, six science centers, and more than 20 laboratories around the United States and U.S. territories. We work with partners across the nation with the values of empathy, inclusion, curiosity, passion for the natural world, humility, trust, collegiality, diversity, and persistence.

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for conservation of the Nation’s living marine resources. Marine resources include Pacific salmon and steelhead which utilize both the ocean and rivers to complete their lifecycle. NOAA Fisheries implements the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Magnuson-Stevens Conservation and management Act (MSA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and other federal statutes to manage, protect, conserve, and ultimately recover these species and their habitats that sustain them. To do this, NOAA Fisheries employs about 4,200 staff including scientists, analysts, technicians, policy managers, and enforcement officers, located across the country at our regional offices, science centers, and national headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The RAY Fellow will work within the West Coast Region’s Oregon Washington Coastal Area Office (OWCO) in Lacey, Washington. The OWCO is responsible for the conservation, protection, and recovery of marine and anadromous species. You will join the Washington Coast-Lower Columbia Branch, a productive, dedicated, and compassionate branch, which prides itself on protecting threatened and endangered species and restoring their critical habitats. We interact routinely with a diverse group of government (local, state, federal), tribal, and private entities to permit their actions while striving to protect species and the ecosystems that support them. We work hard to minimize and avoid the effects of human-related activities in the Lower Columbia River (>140 miles from Bonneville Dam down to the Pacific Ocean) and along Washington’s coastline. These waters contain 14 species of threatened or endangered Pacific salmonids as well as orca whales, green sturgeon, and Pacific eulachon. We conduct consultations with other federal agencies pursuant Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and determine potential effects on essential fish habitat for several managed fisheries. This work often places us in the position of discussing effects on species and promoting activities to reduce those effects. We also participate in restoration and recovery actions including the development of 5-year status reviews for Lake Ozette Sockeye on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and four species of salmonids in the Lower Columbia River. We share our knowledge routinely through written and oral communication and coordinate extensively with other branches and divisions across the West Coast Region.

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region (WCR) is a multi-mission, geographically dispersed agency responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and its habitat. We consist of individuals with a wide range of characteristics and experiences who serve diverse communities across the region. We value a culture of inclusivity and support staff growth and learning. We believe a diverse and inclusive workforce ensures the best scientific outcomes for at risk species and people. We use the collective experience of all our staff to help others understand the importance of protecting and conserving aquatic ecosystems from the Columbia basin streams and rivers out to the Pacific Ocean.


The RAY Fellow will become an integral and valued member of our branch as we strive to conserve and protect species, prevent extinctions, and partner with other organizations and stakeholders dedicated to species conservation. A team of senior and junior staff that are open-minded and passionate about learning will share their knowledge and actively mentor the RAY Fellow.

The Washington Coast-Lower Columbia RAY Fellow will work fulltime in the Lacey, WA duty station and will interact closely with the branch. As of this writing (1/26/2021) WCR’s offices are closed due to Covid-19. The fellow will telework from their residence until the Lacey office is re-opened.

The RAY Fellow will help the Washington Coast-Lower Columbia Branch with a variety of ESA and MSA consultation and recovery work including:

● Producing written documents such as biological opinions, letters of concurrence, and programmatic implementation emails. Much of this work will be collaborating in small teams within the Branch.

● Assisting in the review and evaluation of construction and development activities along the Washington Coast and the Columbia River and its tributaries.

● Learning about the fascinating life history of at-risk species that inhabit the Lower Columbia River and Washington Coast by reading and reviewing an array of scientific documents; interacting with natural resource professionals, and attending meetings on proposed actions.

● Attending presentations that showcase NOAA Fisheries’ scientific research, conservation and recovery efforts, and career development opportunities.

● Finalizing ESA status review updates for five species of salmon and steelhead located in the Lower Columbia River and along the Washington Coast. The RAY Fellow will work with two staff leads to finalize these reviews and coordinate with the Protected Resources Division.

● Participating in biweekly staff meetings, division meetings, virtual coffee hours, and diversity and inclusion discussions.

● Visiting sites along the Columbia River, its tributaries, and the Washington Coast to discuss potential effects of actions on at-risk species. These site visits frequently include a diverse group of stakeholder and partners, thus serving as great opportunities to learn from one another.

The RAY Fellow will gain extensive experience in natural resource management under the ESA and other federal laws. The RAY Fellow will also gain an in-depth understanding of conservation, protection, and recovery of endangered and threatened species along the Columbia River. They will have many opportunities and experiences to participate in team meetings to share opinions, pose questions, and offer solutions. The WCR prides itself in offering frequent training for all staff to develop both personal and professional skills. The RAY Fellow will become a part of a dedicated branch that is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion to fulfill its conservation mission.


● Review documents on proposed activities in the Lower Columbia River, along the Washington Coast, and rivers that are tributaries to the Columbia River.

● Determine potential adverse effects to threatened and endangered species from construction-related/ development actions in marine, estuarine, and freshwaters by reviewing scientific literature.

● Participate as an active team member to help write ESA-related documents that explain effects to at risk species and their critical habitats. These include biological opinions and letters of concurrence.

● Learn about an array of activities that occur in the Pacific NW and how they affect species and habitats.

● Conduct reviews of other federal agencies’ actions on salmonids, green sturgeon, orca whales, and their habitats.

● Conduct literature reviews of scientific information related to species’ life histories and species responses to an array of proposed activities.

● Conduct site visits with stakeholders and project advocates to evaluate projects.

● Web content writing opportunities and developing species’ stories (e.g. story maps, factsheets, and other media on how human actions affect species).

● Assist with coordination and review of 5-year species status reviews under the ESA.

● Participate in meetings with other federal agencies (U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration), NW tribes, WA and OR Columbia River Ports to discuss effects on threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

● Technical writing opportunities (draft sections of Biological Opinions, technical memos, and outreach materials).


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-in 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 in-person training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


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 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 two-year fellowship.


▪ A bachelor’s degree by the time of employment, preferably in biological sciences or natural resource management.

▪ An interest in the fields of biology, ecology, and conservation.

▪ Knowledge or interest in the life history of Pacific salmonids, orca whales, sturgeon, and other freshwater and marine animals along Washington’s West coast of the United States.

▪ Effective written and verbal communication skills.

▪ A passion and eagerness to learn, engage, and share knowledge and opinions.

▪ Ability to work with a diverse team to accomplish tasks and responsibilities.

▪ Ability to be curious, listen to others opinions, and to share yours.

▪ Interest in professional career development in natural resource management.

▪ Interest in developing technical writing skills.

▪ Interest in applying storytelling techniques to help stakeholders understand scientific information about the natural world.

▪ Interest in working with diverse parties regarding species conservation (e.g., scientific researchers, tribes, private citizens, and governmental and non-governmental representatives).

▪ Preferably, some level of understanding of the Endangered Species Act and interest in restoring species habitats and improving their survival.

▪ Preferably, some understanding of and interest in analyzing and applying scientific information to effects on at-risk species and their habitats (working knowledge of Word and Excel and interest in reading scientific papers on at-risk species).


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 follow.


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.