Grassland Stewardship Assistant

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Leola, South Dakota, USA



The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we develop innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the world’s toughest environmental challenges so that people and nature can thrive. Our work is guided by our values, which include a commitment to diversity and respect for people, communities, and cultures. From a rewarding mission to career development and flexible schedules, there are many reasons to love life #insideTNC. Want to know more? Check out our TNC Talent playlist on YouTube to hear stories from staff or visit Glassdoor.

One of TNC’s primary goals is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that employees around the globe have a sense of belonging and feel that their unique contributions are valued. We know we’ll only achieve our mission by hiring and engaging a diverse staff that reflects the communities in which we work. Recognizing that people bring talent and skills that have been developed outside the scope of a job, we take a holistic approach to recruitment that considers life experience in addition to the professional requirements listed in our postings. Please apply – we’d love to hear from you. To quote a popular saying at TNC, “you’ll join for the mission, and you’ll stay for the people.”


The Grassland Stewardship Assistant (GSA) is stationed at the 7800-acre Ordway Prairie Preserve which lies in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region; also referred to as North America’s “Duck Factory” because of its significant breeding habitat for waterfowl. Ordway Prairie is also home to one of the Conservancy’s many bison herds across the Great Plains and serves as the hub for our conservation work in northcentral South Dakota.

The Grassland Stewardship Assistant plays a key role in implementing ecological management and monitoring on the Ordway Prairie Preserve. They will assist with invasive species management, prescribed fire, ecological monitoring and grazing/livestock management, including care of the resident bison herd and maintaining tools, equipment and infrastructure. The GSA will promote the Conservancy’s mission by cooperating on conservation plans and working with partners and private landowners on identified projects, such as conservation easements. The Grassland Stewardship Assistant will coordinate projects and may lead teams consisting of employees, volunteers, interns, and/or contractors.

While this position will work primarily from the Ordway Prairie Preserve office, there will be occasional opportunities to travel and stay overnight at other work locations, especially as needed to assist with prescribed fire and for trainings or conferences. Occasionally the GSA will be required to work irregular hours and long days. This is a full-time (average 40 hours/week), benefited position with an anticipated starting pay range of $20 - $26 per hour depending on experience.

In order to effectively conduct the essential functions of the position, the GSA will live within a reasonable distance of the preserve, agreed upon with the supervisor, in order to respond to urgent issues and routine events on the preserve including but not limited to cattle and bison management, security, equipment failures and visitors. Housing for the GSA, shared with other staff/volunteers, will be available at the Ordway Preserve office until suitable housing can be found.


At TNC we strive to embody a philosophy of Work that You Can Believe in where you can feel like you are making a difference every day. The Grassland Stewardship Assistant also has the joy of creating Work You Can Stomp Around on.
We’re looking for someone with strong land management, communication, and collaboration skills as well as a desire to learn and grow professionally. This is an opportunity for someone that enjoys working outdoors in nature as well as developing plans, conducting research and presenting information.


  • BA/BS/AS/Technical or vocational degree in science-related field and 1 year related experience in custodial and ecological land management or similar field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience with natural systems.
  • Experience in ecological land management principles.
  • Experience operating and or repairing various types of equipment and machinery.
  • Must have a valid driver's license. Please indicate this in your resume.

In addition, the following skills and/or experiences would be an asset for this role but are not required. For applicants without these, please view these as areas or skillsets where you will have opportunities for growth and professional development:

  • Knowledge of ecological land management principles, including prescribed fire, ranch management, livestock husbandry, wildlife management or invasive species control.
  • Experience leading staff or volunteers.
  • Must be qualified as or able to become qualified as a Fire Fighter Type 2 (FFT2), including Introduction to ICS (I-100), Human Factors on the Fire line (L-180), Introduction to Wild Land Fire Behavior (S-190), Firefighting Training (S-130), and work capacity test at arduous level (3 mile walk with 45 lb pack in 45 minutes). See
  • Experience with communication via written, spoken and graphical means in English
  • Ability to recognize plant and animal species as required to complete preserve management and monitoring activities.
  • Experience managing time and diverse activities under deadlines while delivering quality results while working independently and collaboratively with a team.
  • Multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft software applications such as Word, Outlook, Excel, Access, Power Point and GIS applications such as ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online.
  • Experience performing basic maintenance on facilities.
  • Must have ability to obtain required licenses or certifications, such as first aid/CPR, herbicide applicators license, valid driver’s license. Must maintain a good driving record.


Since 1951, TNC has been doing work you can believe in. Through grassroots action, we have grown from a small non-profit into one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. Thanks to more than 1 million members, over 400 scientists, and the dedicated efforts of our diverse staff and partners, we impact conservation around the world!

TNC offers a competitive, comprehensive benefits package including health care benefits, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) plan with an 8% employer match, parental leave, accrued paid time off, life insurance, disability coverage, employee assistance program, other life and work well-being benefits. Learn more about our benefits on our Culture Tab on

We’re proud to offer a flexible work environment that supports of the health and well-being of the people we employ.


To apply for job ID 53330, submit your materials online by using the Apply Now button at Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact

The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of people of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

The successful applicant must meet the requirements of The Nature Conservancy's background screening process.

Do you have military experience? Visit our U.S. Military Skills Translator to match your military experience with our current job openings!

TNC is committed to offering accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application process. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please send a note to with Request for Accommodation in the subject line.

Where legally permissible, TNC requires all new employees to be fully vaccinated and willing to keep up to date with vaccines that protect against COVID-19. By accepting an offer of employment, you agree to comply with this requirement, unless you are entitled to a legally mandated exemption.

An attractive salary and benefits package is part of TNC’s value proposition to our employees. TNC strives to provide competitive pay and bases salaries on the geographic location of the role committing to being equitable across groups and providing hiring salary ranges when possible.

Since we support flexible and remote work for our employees, many positions have a flexible location within countries where we’re registered as a Non-government Organization and established as an employer. This may mean we’re unable to provide a hiring salary range in the posting for some of our positions. However, candidates invited to be part of our interview process will be provided their location specific range upon request.