One important factor in our ability to achieve ambitious goals for nature, climate and people is the conservation workforce. Many college graduates face the conundrum: how do I gain experience when I need the experience to get a job? The Nature Conservancy is committed to inspiring future generations of conservation professionals, so it’s an issue we have a stake in and want to help solve.
That’s why we're pleased to welcome emerging conservation leaders in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota through opportunities like the Paulson Grassland Conservation Fellowship and others, which help to bring us closer to our vision of a world where people and nature thrive. Get to know our fellows!
Anna Kottkamp-Hoard, Freshwater Fellow
Former sixth-grade science teacher Anna Kottkamp-Hoard is serious about water, and it’s a passion that’s taken her many places, including to TNC as our freshwater fellow. Having lived on both coasts and in the Midwest, she’s found that water and water issues have a way of connecting people and ecosystems. “Water inevitably affects people upstream and downstream,” she says. “I enjoy doing science that explores and honors those connections.”
Having most recently completed her master's degree research on forested wetlands, Anna was eager to pivot from academia to TNC because it gives her opportunities to both put freshwater science into action and share science with others.
During her time as freshwater fellow, Anna has been working on a number of priorities including restoring wild rice beds, making maps to help plan and scale our work and advancing racial and social justice in conservation. Leaning on the advice of a graduate school advisor that “life is improvisation,” Anna is diving into her role at TNC with curiosity, enthusiasm and care. Be sure to say hello if you see Anna out ricing, collecting water samples or exploring one of Minnesota’s many rivers.
Alison Long-Nebiolo, Science Fellow
Alison Long-Nebiolo has always appreciated the intrinsic value of nature, but she didn’t always know she wanted a career in environmental sciences. “My bachelor's is actually in psychology,” she notes. “I’ve always enjoyed the research process, so the opportunity to apply that experience to the management of ecosystems is very exciting to me.”
After making the pivot from health to environment, Alison ended up in graduate school studying arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which are microorganisms in soil that form mutualistic relationships with plants. It might not seem like the most natural progression, but for Alison, working in environmental and conservation science just made sense.
Now working for TNC as a science fellow, Alison is involved with several projects including grassland climate adaptation, freshwater applied science and science communication and outreach. She is looking forward to expanding her mapping skills by working more with GIS and leveraging spatial data to further conservation outcomes. Give a wave to Alison if you see her hosting an upcoming Science Thursday or bouncing around one of your local fens.
Dana Barry, Paulson Grassland Conservation Fellow
Dana Barry has long been passionate about conservation. A student of biology and environmental science and policy, Dana previously worked for TNC’s Ohio chapter as an AmeriCorps restoration crew member after completing their undergraduate degree at Smith College. Now in the role of Paulson Grassland Fellow at our Whitney Preserve, Dana is focused on learning about the local plants, sharpening their technical skills and working to advance science communication. Dana emphasizes the important role people must play in achieving conservation at scale.
Dana is especially interested in engaging people and communities through science communication. They explained, “What’s the point of doing science if you can’t talk to people about it?” And because part of working with local communities is making the science relevant and meaningful to others, Dana’s grateful to have both a scientific and liberal arts background that uniquely positions them to connect with just about anyone. During their time as a Paulson Grassland Fellow, Dana is looking forward to working on their chainsaw skills, learning more about fire management and becoming a certified drone pilot to advance conservation by leveraging technology. Be sure to give Dana a thumbs-up if you catch them chatting up a local or firing up a chainsaw this year.