Audubon Dakota is a growing conservation leader in North and South Dakota, establishing innovative programs to protect, conserve, and enhance habitat for a wide variety of bird species. From backyard conservation to vast prairies and prairie wetlands, Audubon Dakota is on the leading edge of advancing conservation in the Northern Great Plains. We are heavily involved with private and public stakeholders to ensure that the future is bright for birds and the community of the Northern Great Plains, because we believe that “Where birds thrive, people prosper”.
Audubon Dakota’s range ecologists work closely with local landowners to implement working lands programs, including the Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) Program and the Prairie Management Toolbox. These working lands programs led by Audubon Dakota aim to improve private landowners’ ability to practice bird-friendly land management. Range ecologists are responsible for enrolling landowners into these working lands programs and assisting landowners in the implementation of innovative land management practices.
Integral conservation tools utilized through these programs are habitat management plans (HMPs), which are adaptive and annually referenced by the range ecologist and landowner to determine management goals and confirm program compliance. HMPs support practices such as adaptive grazing, prairie restoration, invasive species removal, and establishing rotational grazing infrastructure. HMPs rely on the designation of grassland bird species for each ranch or project site; therefore, the range ecologist needs to be familiar with grassland bird ranges and their habitat associations. The range ecologist conducts vegetation diversity and use monitoring to ensure landowners are compliant with program goals and are enhancing their grasslands to benefit grassland birds.
To be considered for this opportunity, please provide a cover letter with your application.
- Serve as an on-the-ground range ecologist for Audubon Dakota’s working lands programs to enhance grassland habitat for Dakotas priority bird species. This will include:
- Landowner Liaison - Provide excellent technical service to agricultural producers participating in Audubon Dakota’s working lands conservation programs.
- Facilitate demand for Audubon Dakota conservation programs through partnerships with local agencies and organizations.
- Connect with local conservation professionals and organizations to deliver programs and recruit new program 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.
- Execute agreements and plan projects for landowners participating in financial assistance conservation programs.
- Habitat Management - Advocate 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 under the range ecologist’s supervision.
- Conduct essential avian and grassland monitoring on program lands.
- Identify monitoring needs regarding avian and vegetation; develop and implement monitoring techniques to address land use, avian density and occupancy, and vegetation response to disturbance.
- Team Player - Participate in all appropriate administrative duties of the state office.
- Support grant writing related to Audubon Dakota Conservation work.
- Participate in local events targeted at youth, professionals, or the general community to share expertise.
- Maintain excellent communication with supervisor and administrative staff.
- Professional Development - Continuously improve skills related to range management and avian conservation.
- Attend training events held by local partners, such as NRCS, USFWS, and state grazing coalitions
- Outreach – Be a resource for local producers and partners.
- Plan and participate in landowner workshops and other educational events.
- Represent Audubon Dakota at events to promote and educate the public on Audubon’s working lands programs, grassland bird conservation, and rangeland management practices.
Qualifications and Experience
- Bachelor’s degree or advanced degree in range management, ecology, natural resources management, wildlife management, or related field, preferred.
- 1+ years’ experience with similar work within the target area.
- Experience working with local agencies and organizations to help ranchers secure cost-share and incentive program funding to implement improved rangeland management practices.
- Must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills and be able to work effectively with producers and a variety of partners.
- Working knowledge of ArcGIS, GPS, other GIS technology.
- Experience with Northern Great Plains grassland plant identification and management.
- Experience with Northern Great Plains avian identification and management.
- Familiarity with common grassland management activities and grazing systems in the Northern Great Plains.
- Must be comfortable with travel, with multiple overnight trips per month within the target area.