Land Trust Alliance, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, U.S. Forest Service Help Diversify Conservation Workforce

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Successful Internship Program to Expand

Land Trust Alliance logo

Land Trust Alliance logo

When land trusts are more inclusive, their conservation work is stronger and, in turn, they see stronger support for conservation.

The Land Trust Alliance, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and U.S. Forest Service announced today intentions to expand a successful internship program that is helping diversify the nation’s land conservation workforce.

Through the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program, the three organizations are developing emerging leaders who will shape the future of land conservation. The U.S. Forest Service granted major funding for the program’s first year; CTNC implemented the program on the ground; and the Alliance provided coordination and direct support to participating students.

This partnership is a part of the U.S. Forest Service’s recently launched Resource Assistants Program, which aims to prepare a new generation of public servants to care for the land through training and paid internship experiences.

“Providing people from diverse backgrounds with professional development, experience and networks is an important stepping stone to careers with Forest Service and with our partners,” said Jim Hubbard of the U.S. Forest Service. “We expect this program will aid the Forest Service, land trusts and other conservation partners in becoming more innovative and relevant within communities as we diversify the conservation workforce to further reach people, with different backgrounds and different connections to the land we work to conserve and protect.”

Based on an internship program CTNC created in 2008 for students attending historically black colleges, DCIP removes financial barriers to entering the conservation field by providing paid opportunities for students and recent graduates from diverse backgrounds to explore conservation careers. The states into which DCIP will expand – along with the local partners and start dates for those programs – are still being determined.

“The internship program connects local land trusts, community-based organizations and agencies that host interns with potential future employees who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve,” said CTNC Executive Director Reid Wilson. “These partnerships will help build a more inclusive conservation sector, not just in North Carolina but all across the United States.”

Among the pilot program’s 11 participants was Alexa Wright, who worked with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association in Durham, North Carolina, while completing her master’s thesis in horticulture at North Carolina State University.

“My favorite part of the internship has been seeing all the great and diverse things that a land trust does,” she said. “I found myself in almost every aspect of the process, from surveying land to maintaining a preserve and linking the community to it. I now know that connecting people to special places – and helping to protect land and water for the future – is what I’m meant to do.”

Land Trust Alliance President Andrew Bowman said such workforce diversification is key to the continued viability and relevancy of land conservation.

“Everyone should enjoy a connection with the land that improves their lives,” he said. “When land trusts are more inclusive, their conservation work is stronger and, in turn, they see stronger support for conservation.”

Students who successfully complete an initial 480 hours of service through their internship can pursue a second internship of similar length. After successfully completing the second internship and meeting certain other requirements, a student is awarded non-competitive hiring status with the U.S. Forest Service for 2 years. Such status means the student may compete for Forest Service jobs as a federal employee for two years.

For more information about the program, visit

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents more than 1,100 member land trusts supported by more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C. and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at

About the Conservation Trust for North Carolina

For 25 years, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina has helped save the places you love – streams, forests, farms, scenic vistas, wildlife habitat, parks and trails. We work with local land trusts, landowners, and communities to protect these natural treasures, so that everyone in North Carolina can enjoy safe drinking water, clean air, fresh local foods, and recreational opportunities, for generations to come. By doing so, we promote great individual and community health. CTNC ensures the next generation will be connected with these special places by providing service opportunities and summer jobs through our Emerging Leaders Programs, including the Diversity in Conservation Internship Program.

About the U.S. Forest Service

We are a multi-faceted agency that manages and protects 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands, which include state, federal, and privately held forest land, to meet the needs of present and future generations.

We have an elite wildland firefighting team and the world’s largest forestry research organization. Our experts provide technical and financial help to state and local government agencies, businesses, private landowners and work government-to-government with tribes to help protect and manage non-federal forest and associated range and watershed lands.

We augment our work through partnerships with public and private agencies that help us plant trees, improve trails, educate the public, and improve conditions in wildland/urban interfaces and rural areas, and protect private forest lands from being converted to other uses.

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Joshua Lynsen