2021 NACD/AFA Conservation Careers Virtual Workshop

The application deadline is May 12, 2021

NACD and Agriculture Future of America (AFA) are working together to host the 2021 Conservation Careers Virtual Workshop, scheduled to be held from June 13-15, 2021.

The NACD/AFA Conservation Careers Virtual Workshop will provide a unique experience for up to 50 undergraduate college students and showcase career paths in conservation, agriculture and natural resources management. Students will engage with professionals from soil and water conservation districts, state conservation agencies and federal resource management partners like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Participants will also develop leadership and communication skills from public and private sector presenters as they share their personal career journeys.

This year’s program will have a focus on forest management and regeneration. The three-evening agenda will include personal and professional skill development, as well as virtual field trips and career roundtables where participants will have one-on-one interactions with resource management professionals. The eligibility requirements and application details can be found at this link.

The application deadline is May 12, 2021. For questions, please contact Keith Owen at keith-owen[at]

Click here to Apply

About the Conservation Careers Workshop

The National Association of Conservation Districts Conservation Careers Workshop showcases employment opportunities within the National Conservation Partnership, along with other public and private natural resource management and agriculture conservation partners, by providing professional relationship and career development for the future leaders in conservation.

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Conservation Careers Workshop is a chance for current college undergraduates to experience and explore careers in natural resource management and agriculture conservation. Students will engage with professionals from soil and water conservation districts, state conservation agencies, and federal resource management partners like the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

The Conservation Careers Workshop is unique in that a small group of students are provided the opportunity to build a personal relationship with professionals that will aid in carrying them forward in their prospective careers. Workshop participants will meet possible mentors during presentations and will have field experiences, as well as receptions and meals to network and gain insights into potential career opportunities.

Students who participate represent the brightest minds on campuses across the United States, as the application is highly competitive. The selection process includes an application reviewing an applicant’s work, academic and extra-curricular experience, grade-point average and responses to two relevant essay questions. Responses are assessed through a selection criteria matrix by an NACD panel, and finalists are chosen from the final scores. Selected students attend the Conservation Careers Workshop at no cost to the participant.

As part of their commitment to the workshop, the selected participants prepare an outreach plan for conducting their own Conservation Careers Outreach Event when they return to campus and are encouraged to connect with conservation partners in their local area to develop and implement the event. These outreach events at campuses across the U.S. provide an opportunity to leverage or reach many times the number of students who can attend the workshops.

A pilot workshop was launched at the 2018 NACD Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn., through an initial grant from NRCS. Through continued NRCS funding, and with the addition of a grant from the USFS, the workshop was reimagined in 2019 as an opportunity for competitively selected participants to receive a personal and up-close experience. The workshop was held concurrent with the NACD Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, where 10 attendees met with local, state and federal professionals, who work with producers that conserve the soil, water, air, plant and wildlife resources crucial to our nation. Participants experienced demonstrations of the five soil health principles and discussed water quality management in urban areas.

In 2020, during the NACD Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev., the Conservation Careers Workshop was held through continued NRCS and USFS support. Due to this important support, the group number expanded, and 15 participants met with staff from the Conservation District of Southern Nevada, the local NRCS Field Office, the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts, and local agriculture producers. The group discussed the challenges of natural resource management in the arid west and the management of rangeland habitats on a complicated private/public landscape. USFS staff presented career-building strategies and shared their career stories.

Past events:

NACD held its second year of the NACD Student Conservation Careers workshop in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2020. The workshop ran during the 2020 NACD Annual Meeting February 7-9, 2020. This unique opportunity for undergraduate college students is an NACD program sponsored through NRCS, the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the National Conservation Partnership.

The workshop provided an immersive experience for up to 15 highly qualified undergraduate college students and showcased career paths in conservation, agriculture and natural resources management. Attendees learned about career options within the National Conservation Partnership, met conservation professionals and made valuable contacts. The National Conservation Partnership includes the USDA, NRCS, USFS, state conservation agencies and conservation districts from across the United States.

Presenters during the sessions were conservation, agriculture and natural resources management professionals from field-work, program management and policy career paths. These professionals shared their career stories and recommendations for developing portfolios. Participants also developed conservation career outreach plans and discussed action strategies to implement career outreach on their campuses. Participants had an opportunity to network with conservation leaders from across the U.S. at this annual event.

Meet the Participants


Any undergraduate college student in a conservation, agriculture or natural resource management related major is eligible to apply for attendance. No students pursuing a Masters or a PhD are allowed to apply.  


  • Commitment Form
  • Outreach Piece (completed after workshop)
  • A current LinkedIn profile

What is included:

  • Airline travel for all sessions (reimbursed)
  • Ground transport in session locations (reimbursed)
  • Meals during travel (reimbursed)
  • Double occupancy lodging and meals during all sessions
  • All training, instruction and transportation during all sessions
  • Participant materials and supplies

Costs borne by participants: transportation to/from your local airport, parking at your local airport, any personal expenses, including expenses incurred after daily planned session activities are complete.

Components of the application:

  • Contact information
  • University information
  • GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Resume including work experience, course work and extracurricular activities
  • Two essay responses, each with a 250 word limit, uploaded as a PDF

Link to application:
Student applicants will be ranked based on educational, extracurricular and work experience, overall GPA and written responses to two short form essay questions.

The Conservation Careers Workshop will take place on February 7, 2020 and last until February 9, 2020.
Application opens: October 8, 2019
Application closes: 11:59 p.m. Eastern December 1, 2019
Top ranking applicants notified of selection: by December 15, 2019 

‘Exploring Careers in Conservation’ career panel, organized by Katrina Vaitkus of the 2019 cohort.

Workshop attendees are asked to create an outreach effort in order to engage with their community and teach other students about the opportunities in conservation careers. Many attendees decided to hold panels at their universities so that other students had an opportunity to learn about conservation and hear from professionals.

Other members of the 2019 cohort created media-based outreach platforms, including a website by Christine Charles, a podcast from Mikayla Smolensky and videos by Cristine Krebs and Anna Fisher.

Abby Northrup from the 2020 cohort created a story map about conservation in Montana.

“It is critical to meet folks who approach environmental conservation from a variety of backgrounds and fields. Furthermore, conservation ties into our economy, agriculture and our food system, our policies, and more: attending the NACD Workshop provided a fresh insight for me into the local and regional environmental conservation and sustainability efforts taking place across the country.”
Krti Tallam, 2019 Cohort

“This workshop further helped me solidify that this was the career path I wanted to take. Folks within this field are so passionate about their work, and they know that what they’re doing is incredibly important. We need more people working in conservation, finding solutions to the problems we face and encouraging conservation across all jobs and disciplines.”
Katrina Vaitkus, 2019 Cohort  

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