Career Awareness Branch

Branch Chief: Nate Hawley,

Programs engage young people directly and build capacity with communities, Service staff, and partners at the field level to engage youth in conservation and stewardship. The Branch focuses on programs that are inclusive and serve as models for DOI, the extended federal family, non-profits, and private partners. Key partnerships and activities include:

Conservation Career Symposium

The Conservation Career Symposium (CCS) provides college students with an overview of the mission and programs of the Service, with a focus on Service careers in natural resource management and biological sciences. The CCS provides training in job skills, including networking, interviewing, and practice in conducting federal job searches and preparing federal resumes. Students learn about the satisfaction of working in federal service with the FWS and how to gain field experience interning with the Service while still enrolled in school.

The timeframe of the CCS is fitted to meet the needs of the client. Its essential elements can be presented in 2 hours of classroom and prior computer work. If time allows, it can be expanded to a 1.5-day experience integrating lecture, computer lab work, and a visit to a Service facility such as a national wildlife refuge or fish hatchery. The CCS helps to build vital relationships among FWS employees and students, university faculty and career placement offices, many times with a focus on reaching diverse audiences.

Conservation Career Symposium Facebook:

Children and Nature Network (C&NN) Partnership

NCTC’s Division of Education and Outreach developed a partnership with the C&NN to train young people to engage their communities in conservation stewardship, and to connect with conservation-related careers.

Natural Leaders Network Legacy Camp

In partnership with the Children and Nature Network's Natural Leaders Network (NLN), NCTC offers an intensive 4-day retreat to train young diverse leaders (ages 18-29) in community leadership development and equip them with the tools to implement an action plan to encourage people to experience, appreciate, and protect the outdoors. The Natural Leaders Network spreads all across the country, with a total of 196 Natural Leaders now on the ground and active in 160 communities, 44 states, and 4 countries. They come from various backgrounds, from working with federal agencies like FWS, USFS, and NPS, to schools and zoos.

To learn more:

Conservation Connect

Conservation Connect is a web-based video series that connects youth, ages 10-14, with the great outdoors and conservation careers. Each episode helps students learn about wildlife species, careers, and new technologies used to study and protect our wildlife and natural resources. Through a partnership with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), each episode has worksheets designed to meet education standards. Over 20 episodes have been created -- highlighting conservation careers and wildlife species from all over the country. New episodes are broadcast each month during the school year, allowing students to chat with conservation experts LIVE and ask questions about career pathways, wildlife species, and the technologies we use to help wildlife.

To learn more:

Directorate Fellows Program

The DFP provides college and graduate students with 11-week fellowships to work full-time on conservation projects designed and supervised by the Service’s field stations. After meeting all program requirements, participants qualify for non-competitive appointment to positions with the Service or other agencies of the Department of the Interior. The DFP is a partnership among the Service’s Office of Diversity and Inclusive Workforce Management, Human Resources, and NCTC. NCTC’s Division of Education and Outreach (DEO) leads the production of the DFP announcement and implementation packet and coordinates peer reviews of project proposals and any necessary revisions with FWS project leaders. DEO also orients project leaders, regional human resources specialists, mentors, and Fellows to the program via webinars and in-person training at NCTC, and we assist with Fellow recruitment. After participants complete their fellowship, DEO archives and tracks each Fellow until graduation and advises them regarding placement opportunities and connects them with hiring offices when needed. We offer Fellowships over the summer months, with recruitment for the program happening January – March each year.

DFP Facebook:

Doris Duke Conservation Leadership Week

The Doris Duke Conservation Leadership Week Program is a partnership effort with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program aimed at increasing the diversity of students and professionals in the conservation field. Each summer the scholars spend a week at NCTC for training on overcoming barriers to conservation engagement and inclusion; environmental careers in public service; teamwork and problem solving; and skills development in aquatic science, zoology, geographic technology, and outdoor recreation. Scholars work with FWS employees to learn a range of interdisciplinary competencies needed to address complicated environmental issues. Training sessions also teach the Scholars about the Service and the other federal environmental agencies, including their individual missions and employment opportunities. Scholars must apply and be accepted by the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program.

Learn more:

Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress (NYCALC)

The Congress engages Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian high school student leaders on climate change issues, and assists them in developing strategies to address climate impacts in their home communities. Open Space Technology is used to develop a student-lead agenda with a focus on climate-related community issues, and solutions. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides small grants to participants for the implementation of community climate change mitigation action plans developed during the Congress. The Congress is a partnership among BIA, NCTC, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Conservation Legacy. The Congress happens annually in the summer at NCTC with recruitment beginning in the spring.

Learn more: NYCALC_2017_Application_Packet_FINAL.pdf
For more information contact Jessi Evans at:

Nature Explore Classroom

NECs are dynamic, nature-based play and learning spaces that help children and families develop a profound engagement with the natural world, where nature is an integral, joyful part of children’s daily learning. NCTC, Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation in Headquarters, the Creston National Fish Hatchery in Montana, and the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington State formed a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation to establish three NECs on Service lands. These now serve as a model and catalyst for expansion to other Service lands nationwide. NCTC is currently funding the first phases of a new NEC at the Valle de Oro NWR in Albuquerque, NM.

To learn more about NCTC’s Nature Explore classroom:
To learn more about Nature Explore:

Smithsonian – George Mason University Partnership

Each year NCTC hosts SGMSC undergraduate and graduate students interested in learning about the Service mission, our various conservation programs, and internship opportunities. The program serves as a modified Conservation Career Symposium. The single-day programs focus on themes of interest to SGMSC such as: wildlife law enforcement, international conservation, and conservation communications. The programs also include employment skills training, such as navigating USA Jobs, writing federal resumes, and interviewing.

To learn more:

Student Conservation Corps and Congress

In partnership with the Green Schools Alliance, the Sc3 empowers outstanding high school student environmental leaders with the skills, knowledge, and tools necessary to identify and address natural resource challenges in their schools and communities. Each year SC3 brings approximately 100 talented students and 30 mentors to NCTC for a weeklong Congress from all over the U.S. Students from India, Canada, China, Morocco, Korea, Haiti, Yemen, Japan, and France have also had the opportunity to participate. Students interact with inspiring speakers and experts in the climate field, and they work together in student-led teams to develop solutions to current and future conservation challenges. Sc3 ends with students presenting their action plans for conservation work they’ll pursue back at their schools and communities.

To learn more:

Sense of Wonder Recognition Program

The Sense of Wonder Recognition Program acknowledges Service employees, nominated by coworkers, who have designed and implemented visionary programs that foster a sense of wonder and public stewardship of our wildlife heritage. The eight regional recipients are recognized at the annual National Association of Interpretation (NAI) National Conference, along with their colleagues from the National Park Service, U. S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. NCTC and Refuges oversee the application and selection process and represent the Service on the Federal Interagency Council for Interpretation (FICI), the group that coordinates the annual awards ceremony.

To learn more contact Blaine Eckberg at