Wilderness Fellows Program

The Wilderness Fellows Program works with land management agencies to preserve wilderness and keep it wild and full of adventure.  It employs highly educated and trained young professionals and places them with land management agencies across the country.  The Program was designed to do three things:

1.  Increase capacity where necessary for wilderness managers to accomplish complex, professional, wilderness tasks.

2.  Address the backlog of wilderness stewardship work across the National Wilderness Preservation System.

3.  Groom the next generation of wilderness professionals and connect them to people and places of work.

Fellows work on all manner of wilderness stewardship and manager issues, from wilderness character to outfitter and guide permitting to minimum requirements analysis, and everything in between.  Fellows are hired to match agency needs, and are trained extensively in the subject matter they will be working with.  

To HOST a Fellow, contact Heather MacSlarrow.

To APPLY to be a Wilderness Fellow, check out the Position Description here. The application deadline for the 2020 season is January 31, 2020. 

To STAY INFORMED about the Fellows program, click here to sign up for the Wilderness Fellows Newsletter.  We will always send position openings out to this network.

Meet the 2019 Fellows:

Shayna Brown recently graduated with dual Masters’ degrees in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from American University and the University for Peace in Costa Rica.  Prior to pursuing her graduate studies, she worked as a Wilderness Ranger on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington State for several seasons, where she particularly focused on building her experience in community engagement, outreach, and education in public lands management.  Shay is passionate about the intersection of responsible natural resource management and sustainable community development, and is excited to further her hands-on experience with federal lands management policy and research in this Fellowship.  In her free time, Shay is typically tromping through the mountains, jumping in the nearest body of water, running to a funky playlist, or reading a good book.

Shayna is a Fellow in USFS Region 8

Courtney Buoncore graduated in 2018 from Princeton University with a BA in anthropology and a minor in environmental science, specializing in ecology and conservation. Her academic and personal interests center on coupled human and natural systems. She is invested in learning ways to ease tension between those systems and create practical infrastructure beneficial to both. Wilderness gives us an opportunity to explore our relationship with the natural world, and reminds us to recognize the value of non-human life. Courtney's free time is split between reading and backpacking, and always brings The Fellowship of the Ring on her hiking trips.

Courtney is a Fellow in USFS Region 10

Noah Campbell is a 2018 graduate of Colgate University, where he double majored in Environmental Studies and Mathematics. Since graduation, he has worked as a Wilderness Technician Intern in southern Colorado and a GIS Technician in Silicon Valley. He is excited to return to working in public land and wilderness management, particularly to continue using geospatial information, social sciences, and quantitative data to help solve environmental problems. Noah grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York State, a minute's walk from the Appalachian Trail. From a very young age he has loved hiking and being in natural places, alone or with others. He hopes to share his passion by helping to make natural experiences accessible and equitable. In his free time, Noah enjoys summiting mountains, trivia, reading (particularly fantasy), and playing the bagpipes. 
Noah is a Fellow in USFS Region 1 

Delaney Troi Callahan is a 2018 graduate of California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Geography, a minor in Environmental Science and Policy, and a certification in Geographic Information Science. Her undergraduate studies focused on patterns of disturbance and recovery in native vegetation communities, landscape restoration, conservation action, GIS, and remote sensing. Through her work with the Bureau of Land Management, she has gained field experience in public land stewardship, natural resource management, and wilderness conservation. Her time working in California’s deserts have fostered a passion for serving historically undervalued wilderness areas. In the near future, Delaney plans to pursue a graduate degree which she will use to explore the various research specialties in her field, including continued work with unmanned aerial systems and remote sensing. Delaney is returning to SWS after a season working in Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. During her free time, Delaney can be hard to find, but every now and then, you might reach her by satellite phone.
Delaney is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 4
Lorena Cortes Torres has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Puerto Rico and recently completed a Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability with a concentration in Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan. She is interested in wildlife and endangered species conservation with a focus on forest and marine ecosystems. In the near future, she hopes to work for a land management agency preserving endangered pristine environments. Her true passion for wildlife conservation was first ignited during a summer internship in 2015 with the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center in Wisconsin where she completed a comprehensive Field Ecology course and conducted all types of field activities, from water and insect sampling to bird and herp identification. During this internship, she got to experience a sense of freedom and calmness as she was immersed with pristine wilderness and vowed to protect these wilderness areas. In her free time she enjoys watching movies, hanging out with my family and friends, eating ice-cream and doing outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and going to the beach.
Lorena is a Fellow in USFS Region 8
Katie Ebinger studied Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. As an undergraduate, she participated in and designed studies aimed at assessing biodiversity and increasing restoration success in Colorado grasslands, Louisiana marshes, and Florida coral reefs. She loves exploring terrestrial and marine environments and hopes to work in a scientific discipline that can directly inform conservation. She plans to return to school for joint masters and law degrees in environmental law to create policies that serve people and the environment.
Katie is a Fellow in USFS Region 10

Hannah Espinosa grew up in Kentucky at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which led to her appreciation of the beautiful natural world around her.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of Kentucky. She recently graduated with her Masters of Science in Biodiversity, Evolution, and Conservation in Action from Middlesex University in London, England.  Her undergraduate and graduate studies led her to study in diverse ecosystems all over the world including Australia, Mauritius, England, and Jersey. These experiences and those growing up surrounded by nature have led to her love of the environment and the beauty it has to offer. While traveling abroad she saw the bad effects as well as the positive impacts humans can have.  It showed her the possibilities and changes she could make to better the environment around her.  This has led to her desire to work in the field of conservation; to work with people and the environment and hopefully make a change for the better. Hannah believes that a healthy and successful environment can not only enhance the natural world but also the quality of life for all those living in it.  She plans to work in the field of conservation to help create a more natural and sustainable future. In her free time you will most likely find Hannah running to the airport for another adventure, in the kitchen cooking for her family, or enjoying the outdoors.  

Hannah is a Fellow in USFS Region 9    

Ellen Ray graduated from California Polytechnic State University in 2017 with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration. Throughout her undergrad, she worked as a backpacking guide and discovered a deep love for untouched wilderness. Understanding how essential it is to protect our natural land, has focused her studies on finding a sustainable balance between the economic, social, and environmental aspects of tourism, maximizing the positive impact of the industry. She spent last summer working on the Tongass Natural Forest where she fell in love with Alaska's boundless open spaces and wild landscape. This year she is thrilled to return to Alaska- this time to the Chugach. Throughout the season she will be developing a Solitude Monitoring management tool for the Nellie Juan College-Fjord Wilderness Study Area.  In her free time, Ellen finds endless enjoyment in playing music and hiking as high and as far as possible. She could not be more excited to work with SWS for another season.  
Ellen is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 10

Jacob Smith grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and recently graduated from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Science in Park and Resource Management as well as a Master of Education in Environmental Education. He is passionate about migratory bird research, habitat conservation, and education. With that, he looks forward to applying his knowledge and experience in education and research to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to connect to the natural world. Jacob’s inspiration to help contribute wilderness stewardship this season stemmed from his undergraduate and graduate studies but more specifically stemmed from the combination of his urban-living experience in Pittsburgh and the deep connection he found to the nature southeast Alaska. While working with the Forest Service in Alaska during the summer of 2017, he spent most of his time camping and working in stunning wilderness areas. Aldo Leopold stated that “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Jacob is inspired by Leopold’s writings and his values closely align with this statement. If he is not outside hiking or searching for birds to photograph, you can find him in a quiet location drawing portraits of dogs.

Jacob is a Fellow in USFS Region 9

Alyssa Thomas has wanted to save endangered animals since participating in a “Sprint for the Seals” at the age of 3. But a trip to Kenya while in college made her realise that it is impossible to save animals without fully considering the humans who share their environment. Since then Alyssa has pursued a career in conservation and has earned a Masters in Conservation Biology and PhD in Environmental Studies, both from Victoria University (New Zealand). Her doctorate focused on the human dimensions of a popular recreational fishery in New Zealand; with the aim of improving the management and sustainability. Since completion of her PhD, she has worked for a local NGO in Belize and the Wildlife Conservation Society in Fiji. She also serves as a consultant for the Central American NGO MarAlliance. As the human population continues to grow and development continues, preserving wilderness areas becomes more important. These areas are essential for many plants and animals; but also serve as a reminder to humans about what the land used to look like. Alyssa is looking forward to learning more about land management in the United States and gaining experience working for a government agency. In her free time, she enjoys reading, photography and being outdoors.
Alyssa is a Fellow in USFS Region 9

Eric Siegel is a natural history enthusiast, writer, and educator. His undergraduate degree, from the University of Vermont, is in English and Geography, a combination which taught him to analyze landscape as a form of writing – and literature as a form of landscape. Eric earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, where he studied environmental writing and literature, with a master’s thesis about public lands testimony as a form of literature. He is an adjunct professor in environmental humanities at the Colorado School of Mines and a freelance writer for High Country News. He has also worked as an instructor for the Wild Rockies Field Institute in Montana and as a field naturalist at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, sharing his passion for Rocky Mountain ecology, botany, and geology with others so that they, too, can apprentice themselves to wild places. Eric believes that landscapes tell stories, and that we can “read” a landscape by perceiving the relationships in it. Wilderness landscapes are especially interesting to Eric because how we manage wilderness reveals the stories we uphold about it – and what wilderness means to different people at different times in different locales.



Eric is a Fellow in USFS Region 1

Ellen Sulser is a 2018 Smith college graduate with a major in Environmental Science and Policy. Throughout her time at Smith, Ellen worked at the college’s Field Research Station, where she developed a passion for land management, environmental communication, and composting toilets. Last Summer Ellen Served as the Fellow for Region 9 at the Mark Twain National Forest. She was proud to be in Midwest and working at the intersection between community engagement and scientific research. Wilderness is an ecological archive —a record of the environmental past by which we can chart our progress towards a sustainable future. Ostensibly uncurated, the wilderness is nevertheless profoundly shaped by human action, and Ellen is excited to advocate for responsible stewardship. Enthusiastic and passionate about natural resources and being able to experience the outdoors, she strives to understand how natural resource policy is developed and implemented and how science should contribute to ensuring that policy is based on a sound foundation. On long hikes, Ellen can be heard from miles away singing an eclectic blend of opera and barbershop music.

Ellen is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 4

Carl Woody Completed his Master Degree in Environmental Policy Natural Resource Management from Indiana University in May of 2019. He is interested in the nexus of public land management policy, science, and community-scale stewardship. Presenting good science to policy makers and the public in an approachable and straightforward style is essential to garnering support for our public lands. His goal is to act as a conduit for good science to reach the public and inspire action. America's public lands belong to us all, and we must each take ownership and responsibility for it before we let it disappear. While serving on an AmeriCorps Conservation Corps Carl had the pleasure of working and living in the Montana wilderness for a summer. He experienced the power, majesty, and wonder of the wilderness. Carl is looking forward to ensuring that all people have chance to experience the inspiration of the wild. In his spare time he enjoys playing basketball, fishing and making toys for his niece and nephews. 



Carl is a Fellow in USFS Region 5

Jessica Zehr is a returning wilderness fellow now in her fourth year of working in public land and resource management. Prior to working as a wilderness fellow, she was an ecological and social science research intern and a Directorate Resource Assistant (DFP) plant ecology fellow for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners. Jessica earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Syracuse University and, in 2018, a Master of Science in environmental studies at Green Mountain College. Jessica’s interest in wilderness areas and concepts is manifold, spanning conservation science, environmental history and philosophy, and even the arts. On a personal level, she values wilderness and other wild places, big or small, for having fostered in her a lasting orientation to the environment that she can carry with her anywhere. Ultimately, she would like to combine her interest in visual and cultural studies with her interest in environmental conservation.

Jessica is a Super Fellow in USFS Region 5


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