The National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy have developed an externship to equip global youth ages 18-25 with the tools to take action for nature.

A woman in a helicopter holding a camera, taking photos of a prescribed burn beneath her.
Capturing Fire Gabriela Tejeda photographing a prescribed burn from a helicopter as part of her National Geographic Society and TNC externship storytelling project, Florida Everglades. © Gabriela Tejeda

Today’s youth are inheriting complex and mounting environmental challenges. They want to act and lead on behalf of the planet.

That’s why the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy have joined forces to offer young adults from across the globe a leadership experience to equip them with the knowledge, tools and relationships to seek solutions and take action for nature.

A person smiles while holding a large underwater camera and wearing snorkeling equipment.
Soggy Storytelling Gabriela Tejeda with her camera, photographing nature as part of her National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy externship storytelling project, Florida Everglades © Gabriela Tejeda

Externship Overview

Together, the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy developed a program centered around a rigorous externship—a highly relevant training, mentoring and research experience for people ages 18-25.

The goal: intentionally create more opportunities for young people from communities traditionally underrepresented in conservation to experience and prepare for careers in conservation and exploration.

The externship includes:

  • Virtual classes: Groups convene online across eight weeks and focus on a priority topic such as marine or freshwater conservation.
  • Mentorships: Participants connect with each other, work with learning coaches and interact with mentors and experts.
  • Workshops: The program offers collaborative workshops on research best practices, presentation techniques and other career readiness skills.
  • Digital presentations: Each participant selects a locally relevant conservation issue to investigate. They apply the methods and skills that are covered to give an interactive digital presentation.
  • Seed funding: As the externship concludes, participants can apply for seed funding to begin to enact the solutions they identified in their communities.
A man stands waist-deep in a bright blue ocean.
Ijunad Junaid portrait Ijunad Junaid stands in the water at Villingili Beach, Maldives, August 2023. Ijunad created an environmental magazine with his NGS-Nature Conservancy grant. © Aishath Naj

Growth Potential

See how the externship program began and meet three alumni who are already making a difference in their communities.

Read the Magazine Story

Externship Impact

  • Icon of 3 people.


    Externship participants to date

  • Globe icon.


    Representing more than 123 countries and areas

  • Icon of trees behind a fence.


    Community projects have received funding

  • Money icon.


    awarded in seed funding


Contact TNC's Youth Engagement team!

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Apply for the Externship

The National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy are hosting multiple externships each year, and they are working to secure support to include hundreds of global youth annually.

Apply online through ParagonOne, which works with the partners to recruit, guide and inspire participants.

Apply Today!

Join hundreds of global youth who are connecting with the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy.

Quote: Jennifer Morris

Addressing the complex challenges facing the world requires leaders willing to try new approaches and take risks. This partnership is designed to foster those kinds of leaders—our colleagues, partners and advocates of tomorrow.

Jennifer Morris CEO, The Nature Conservancy

Beyond the Externship

Externship program alumni continue to advance their conservation solutions in a number of ways. Many have been invited to participate in important global convenings and conservation-focused conferences. A number of alumni have become part of the National Geographic Explorers network and employees with both the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy.

Alumni are also invited to apply for seed funding from the partners to implement their conservation solutions on the ground. Ongoing alumni surveys tracks program impact over time and fosters ongoing connections between participants and partners.

Explore stories of how externs are taking conservation action across the globe.

Stories from Externs

Work doesn't stop when the Externship ends! Select each tile to learn what the externs have done beyond the program.

What's it like to be an Extern?

The Conservation Externship Experience (2:35) The National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy have teamed up with Paragon One to launch an externship program designed to inspire a future generation of environmental leaders and changemakers.

Our Partner: National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching three million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. The Nature Conservancy is proud to partner with the National Geographic Society to connect thousands of diverse young people through this collaborative, relevant and successful externship program; together, we are investing in the people who will lead conservation into the next decade.