Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action. By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive. And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level. What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of nearly 500 local chapters, 23 state offices, 41 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country. Audubon is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).
The conservation ranching program range ecologist will work closely with local ranchers in southwest South Dakota and Nebraska to facilitate the development of “bird- friendly” grazing regimes which comply with the program protocols to benefit both birds and the rancher. The range ecologist will be responsible for developing the habitat management plan, an integral conservation tool which will be referenced by both the ecologist and the rancher to determine management goals and confirm protocol compliance annually. Habitat management plans rely on the designation of target grassland bird species for each ranch, therefore, the range ecologist needs to be familiar with grassland bird ranges and their habitat associations. Through monitoring grassland use and identifying goals, the range ecologist ensures that ranchers are compliant with the conservation ranching program and are enhancing their grasslands for the benefit of grassland birds. Additionally, the range ecologist will be responsible for identifying, developing, and implementing research needs at Audubon Dakota Sanctuaries and partner land. This may include vegetation, avian, and mammal surveys related to climate change, energy development, land development, etc. The range ecologist will work under the direction of Audubon Dakota’s Conservation Programs Manager in the Dakotas to meet program goals and benchmarks. The position can be located in either Southwest South Dakota and/or Sandhills of Nebraska. Please note the desired location in your cover letter. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered for the position.
The Range Ecologist will serve as an on-the-ground grassland bird conservation specialist for Audubon’s Conservation Ranching program to enhance grassland habitat for a target region’s priority bird species.
This will include:
Establish and maintain working relationships with ranchers and landowners participating in the Conservation Ranching program.
Communicate program goals and work with rancher/landowner to develop site specific farm habitat conservation plans for each assigned ranch.
Initiate relationships to recruit new program participants and program partnerships with local agencies and organizations.
Implement essential bird/grassland monitoring practices and/or coordinate monitoring with responsible contractors.
Maintain an effective working relationship with partners and Audubon state office staff.
Using ecoregion specific bird-friendly grazing standards, assist program ranchers with implementing an adaptive grazing plan that meets Audubon’s Conservation Ranching requirements, and provide essential habitat needs for one or more target bird species.
Identifying research needs regarding avian, vegetation, and mammalian changes, and having the ability to develop and implement research techniques to address projects related to energy production, climate change, and surrounding land development.
Qualifications and Experience
Bachelor’s degree or advanced degree in range management, ecology, natural resources in 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
Experience with grassland plant identification and management
Experience with avian identification and management
Working knowledge of ArcGIS, GPS, or other GIS technology
Familiarity with common grazing systems in the northern Great Plains
Must be comfortable with extensive travel with multiple overnight trips per month within the target area