“More than an internship…”
Land conservation is an environmental justice issue that affects climate change, safeguards cultural heritage, improves communities’ access to clean air, water, and recreation, and much more. Despite our region’s striking diversity, few people of color work with, serve, or lead local conservation and environmental groups. Important land use decisions therefore seldom reflect Virginia’s human diversity.
The Virginia Conservation Fellowship Program
The Virginia Conservation Fellowship (VCF) is a prestigious, selective, yearlong work/study program for juniors/seniors of color and other groups underrepresented in Virginia environmentalism. With the slogan “More than an internship,” VCF is designed to be a pipeline program that kick-starts motivated students’ careers. Fellows gain professional experience, skills, and academic credit for successful work and research coordinated with two established, pro-conservation non-profits: the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) and Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR). Embedded within their respective organization, VCF Fellows pursue interests in environmental science, conservation advocacy, land use policy, or similar areas. This fellowship is open to undergraduate students at University of Mary Washington and George Mason University. Preference is given to in-state students residing in the organizations’ service areas.
Meet the Fellows
Meet Julia Gasink, 2022 UMW graduate and the first Virginia Conservation Fellow! Julia majored in Honors Biology and completed her GIS Certificate. She worked for 9 months with the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust. She talks about the experience here.
The 2022-2023 Fellows are Krystal Lightell and Darian “DJ” Washington. Both are conservation biology majors. Congrats!
How VCF Fellows benefit
- Two consecutive semesters combining internship and independent study for academic/experiential learning credit
- In agreement with NVCT or FOR, Fellows undertake research on conservation-oriented advocacy, policy, or science supervised by your university’s faculty.
- Stipend and limited compensation for travel provided.
- At NVCT/FOR’s discretion, interns may work in offices or remotely
- Nuts-and-bolts knowledge of the profession and active experience in the field not usually available in normal internships. Examples may include:
- Shadowing and mentoring by NVCT/FOR directors/staff/board members, as permitted
- Observing NVCT/FOR board and committee meetings, etc. as permitted
- Conservation fieldwork, as permitted
- Organizing and attending NVCT/FOR events
- Invitation to Virginia’s United Land Trusts’ (VaULT) annual and quarterly meetings and trainings, and other professional opportunities
- Improved professional and academic prospects
- Networking and unique non-profit organizational exposure
- “Virginia Conservation Fellow” status on resumé
Qualifications and application materials
- Rising junior or senior status only.
- GPA of 2.8 or above preferred.
- 400-word personal statement on preparedness, how VCF fits your career plans, and evidence of commitment to environmentalism. Please also note your transportation options (whether you have a car for personal transportation).
- At least one recommendation from an advisor, professor, or other mentor addressing academic and professional potential, maturity, and reliability (if more than one recommendation is submitted, at least one must be from a faculty member).
- View a PDF of the VCF Application Form.
Submit a complete application by February 15, 2023. Fellows will be selected by February 28, 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who do I contact with questions or for more information?
A: Contact Dr. Ranjit Singh (email@example.com).
Q: When are applications due?
A: Applications are due February 15, 2023.