Grassland Ecologist, Minnesota and Wisconsin

Organization icon


Location icon

Minneapolis, MN, United States

Apply now
Clock icon

30+ days ago

The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state, regional, national, and international programs, nature centers, and chapters have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. As a sentinel species, we recognize that the fate of birds is inextricably tied to the fate of us all.

Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the United States and seven countries in 17 state and regional offices, 41 nature centers, and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Together as one Audubon, we aspire to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss.

Audubon is committed to a culture of workplace excellence, where our talented and diverse staff are deeply engaged, with a strong sense of belonging. The birds Audubon pledges to protect differ in color, size, behavior, geographical preference, and countless other ways. By honoring and celebrating the equally remarkable diversity of the human species, Audubon will bring new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout the hemisphere.
Position Summary:
The regional offices of the National Audubon Society are leaders and integral members of a community of conservation practice, establishing innovative programs to protect, conserve, and enhance habitat for a wide variety of bird species throughout the upper Midwest and beyond.

The Grassland Ecologists will work closely with local landowners to implement working lands programs, including the Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) Program and a variety of voluntary range and grassland conservation tools. The Grassland Ecologist will work in partnership within a community of conservation groups including sustainable agriculture organizations, and agencies to deliver robust private landowner programming. These working lands programs aim to improve private landowners’ ability to practice bird-friendly land management. The Grassland Ecologist will be responsible for engaging, cultivating, and enrolling landowners into these programs and assisting them with implementation of innovative land management practices.

Utilizing habitat management plans (HMPs), the Grassland Ecologist will partner with landowners to determine land management goals and ensure program compliance. These HMPs support practices such as adaptive grazing, prescribed fire, grass and rangeland restoration, invasive species removal, and establishing rotational grazing infrastructure. HMPs rely on the designation of priority grassland bird species for each ranch or project site. The Grassland Ecologist will also conduct and/or support vegetation, bird, and soil monitoring to ensure landowners are compliant with program goals and are enhancing their grasslands to benefit grassland birds.

There are two open positions, one based in Minnesota as part of the Audubon Minnesota Iowa Missouri regional office, and another based in Wisconsin as part of the Audubon Great Lakes regional office.

$52,500 / year plus benefits
Essential Functions:
  • Proactively connect with and liaise with landowners and provide excellent technical service to agricultural producers participating in Audubon’s working lands conservation programs. Specifically,
    • Facilitate demand for Audubon conservation programs through partnerships with local agencies and organizations.
    • Connect with local conservation professionals, organizations, and landowners to deliver programs and recruit new participants.
    • Provide timely access to financial assistance programs for enrolled ranches, through Audubon, local, state, and federal financial assistance opportunities.
    • Refer producers to partner conservation programs when applicable.
    • Establish and maintain professional relationships with ranchers and landowners participating in Audubon’s working lands programs.
    • Communicate program goals and work with rancher/landowner to develop site-specific farm habitat conservation plans for each assigned ranch or project.
    • Execute agreements and plan projects for landowners participating in financial assistance conservation programs.
    • Facilitate enrollment process and assist Audubon project budget tracking.
  • Advocate for science-supported habitat management on partner lands.
  • Establish habitat management plans using SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive) goals on all enrolled program ranches.
  • Conduct or coordinate essential avian and grassland monitoring on program lands.
  • Identify monitoring needs regarding avian and vegetation and implement monitoring techniques to address land use, avian density and occupancy, and vegetation response to disturbance.
  • Partner with working lands staff to implement, track, and report on habitat enhancement projects.
  • In close collaboration with the regional and national teams, manage project budgets, reporting requirements, and third-party contracts.
  • Help identify, develop and write grants to government agencies and foundations to fund projects related to Audubon Conservation work.
  • Coordinate local events targeted at youth, professionals, or the general community to share expertise.
  • Maintain excellent communication with supervisor, supporting partner organization, and administrative staff.
  • Participate in partner meetings and conferences.
  • Identify and participate in opportunities that allow for continued professional growth aimed at improving skills related to grassland management and avian conservation.
  • Attend training events held by local partners, such as NRCS, USFWS, State DNR, Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, Conservation NGOs, and others.
  • Serve as a resource for local producers and partners.
  • Plan and participate in landowner workshops and other educational events.
  • Represent Audubon at events to promote and educate the public on Audubon’s working lands programs, grassland bird conservation, and grassland management practices.
  • Partner with Audubon staff to ensure equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging principles are incorporated in our conservation programs.
  • Other duties as the job requires.
Qualifications and Experience:
  • Bachelor’s degree in range management, ecology, natural resources management, wildlife management, regenerative agriculture or related field required, advanced degree is preferred but not required. Equivalent combination of education and experience will also be considered.
  • A minimum of 3 years of experience with project development/coordination, conservation planning or similar work.
  • Experience working with local agencies and familiarity with agricultural cost-share and incentive programs.
  • Experience coordinating/facilitating field days, workshops, webinars, and/or symposiums.
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills, including public speaking, public presentation, and the ability to synthesize and communicate technical and complex information to both technical and non-technical audiences
  • Strong project management skills, including but not limited to setting and implementing effective goals and objectives, problem-solving, time management, contract and grant management, creating and maintaining collaborations with other organizations, developing public awareness activities, preparing reports, etc.
  • Ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of individuals (e.g. conservation partners, private landowners and ranchers, volunteers, and local community members).
  • Experience working with multigenerational audiences and diverse cultural communities and a commitment to increasing equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging as a core component of our work.
  • Experience with grassland plant identification and management.
  • Experience with avian identification and understanding of life histories and ranges, habitat associations, and management implications.
  • Familiarity with common grassland management activities and grazing systems.
  • Experience with sampling methods, wildlife surveys, and wildlife habitat management.
  • Knowledge and appreciation of Midwest ranching/grazing culture, range management issues, and sustainable ranching practices.
  • Working knowledge of ArcGIS, GPS and other GIS technologies.
  • Proficiency with Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and other key Microsoft Office and web-based products.
  • Must be able to work autonomously and within a team.
  • Possess valid driver’s license for safe operation of 4-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Comfort driving on unpaved surfaces
  • Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs with or without accommodation.
  • Must be comfortable with extensive day travel and occasional overnight travel, as necessary. Willingness to work occasional weekends and evenings as the job demands.
This position is represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
EEO Statement:
The National Audubon Society is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. We are committed to a policy of nondiscrimination, inclusion and equal opportunity and actively seek a diverse pool of candidates in this search.
Accessibility Statement:
The National Audubon Society endeavors to keep our careers site accessible to any and all users. If you would like to contact us regarding the accessibility of our website or need assistance completing the application process, please contact This contact information is for accommodation requests only and cannot be used to inquire about the status of applications.
COVID Policy:
All new hires must be fully vaccinated prior to their start of employment unless they are pre-qualified by HR for exemption.