Wilderness Fellows Program

The primary purpose of the Wilderness Act is to preserve the wilderness character of protected lands.  The question for stewards of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) lies in determining the definition and assessment of wilderness character.  The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (Leopold) has spent years researching this issue and developing technical tools and protocols that guide managers in implementing monitoring and stewardship systems for wilderness character.

We are working with Leopold and the United States Forest Service (USFS) to complete these assessments on the ground through our Wilderness Fellows & Researchers program.  During the 2017 field season, Fellows will be placed with the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Custer Gallatin, Bitterroot, Nez Perce Clearwater, Payette, Salmon-Challis, Arapaho Roosevelt, Grand Mesa Uncompahgre & Gunnison, Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas, Apache Sitgreaves, Prescott, Coconino, George Washington & Jefferson, Monogahela, Chequamegon-Nicolet, Hiawatha, and Superior National Forests.  

We are now accepting applications for our Wilderness Fellows positions. TO APPLY, View the position description and application directions here.

To HOST a Fellow, click here for the program fact sheet, or contact Heather MacSlarrow.

Meet the 2016 Fellows:

 Kelsey Ann Anderson is a farm girl from the middle of Missouri. She always had a love for all things nature, and in high school she excelled at science, played softball, and illustrated a children’s book about pollution for the USDA and NRCS. Kelsey went on to attend Missouri State University (go BEARS!), where she stayed in the sciences, and just finished her MS in Biology. Her graduate research examined antipredator behaviors of a local stream fish, but she also worked with hellbenders and terrestrial salamanders during my time. Ask her about it – it’s all very cool! During her undergraduate she ventured away from her comfort zone and volunteered in South Africa, where she worked with rescued elephants, cheetahs, and lions alike. Now that school’s over Kelsey is ready to get out there in the real world and start working in natural resources and conserving the things that she loves in this world. She keeps her waders and muck boots in my car at all times if anyone wants to go out looking for salamanders or go wading in the stream!  
Shubham Datta cultivated is a recent doctoral graduate in Wildlife and Fisheries from South Dakota State University.  He also holds an MS in Natural Resource Management, and a BS in Zoology.  Since 2005, he has worked in different landscapes and in a multitude of socio-economic scenarios, with multiple taxa including large felids, canids, bats, and raptors and is passionate about research oriented management and conservation of threatened biodiversity and their habitats.  Shubham is pursuing a career in global biodiversity conservation and policy development.  He is a foodie who loves to travel, meet new people, and learn about new cultures.  Shubham loves reading, hiking, learning new languages, and spending time with his two lovely daughters when he gets a chance!
Shubham is a Fellow in Region 2, and is working on the South San Juan and Hermosa Creek Wilderness Areas.     
Dave Jacobs cultivated his orientation to the natural world in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  His travels and work have taken him to work in mid-coast Maine, the backcountry of Olympic National Park and most recently the Cumberland Plateau of East Tennessee.  His constantly evolving sense of adventure keeps him busy on his mountain bike, road bike, skis; behind the camera lens; or thumbing through a field guide. When he’s not adventuring, Dave can be found reading books, bird watching, or making a deliciously strong cup of coffee.   Most recently Dave completed his master’s degree in conservation biology at Green Mountain College. In this graduate work his thesis focused on mapping and inventorying the plant communities of the Tennessee River Gorge.  Above all else Dave enjoys taking in a good day outside.
Dave is a Fellow in Region 3, and is working on the Columbine-Hondo and Wheeler Peak Wilderness Areas.
Kat Lyons is a 2016 Smith College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science & Policy and a minor in Government. Experiencing the outdoors from a young age fostered her passion to protect public lands. Kat’s studies focus on the relationship between field work and policy on the local, regional and national level and how each of these perspectives contribute to the successful sustainability of our precious natural resources. Kat has a variety of experiences working for the Forest Service on the Salmon Challis National Forest doing field work focusing on wildlife and fisheries biology, at the regional level volunteering for the Region 5 office of the Fish and Wildlife Service focusing on urban initiatives to encourage the development of accessibility to natural areas, and at the National level for the White House Council of Environmental Quality as a policy intern for national land and water issues. Enthusiastic and passionate about field work and being able to experience the outdoors, she strives to understand all perspectives to create better management practices so the next generation can enjoy these places as much as she does. In her spare time she enjoys backpacking, kayaking, playing rugby, music and exploring new places with friends and family.
Emma Rocio Fajardo grew up in Durango, Mexico and migrated to the US 15 years ago. Emma attended the University of Arizona for her B.A. Environmental Geography. During that time she worked as a biotech for the National Park Service. Upon graduation, Emma joined a non-profit to work on the restoration of the Colorado River Delta where she led field work and GIS data analysis. Most recently Emma has received her M.S. Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University. 
Emma is a Fellow in Region 3, and is working on the Mt. Wrightson and Pajarita Wilderness Areas.
Currently, Mitch Warnick is a master’s candidate in the Master of Environmental Management (MEM) program at Western State Colorado University.  Previously, he earned a BS in Geology from College of Charleston.  Outside of ‘degrees,’ he is committed to seeking avenues for natural conservation, as well as continued preservation of already protected places, by promoting them through photography and story-telling.  He believes that people protect what they love, so if we harness a culture that loves wilderness (capital W, or otherwise), we will make sound decisions regarding our treatment of said places.
Mitch is a Fellow in Region 2, and is working on the Fossil Ridge and Powderhorn Wilderness Areas.
Leah Zamesnik grew up as a Navy kid, living all over the US and abroad. Each move introduced a new setting and a new outdoor world to explore. Taking a break from undergraduate studies, she traveled to Peru to work as a research assistant on a remote conservation research station in the Amazon where she worked on a variety of conservation projects and developed a passion for community-based conservation. After graduating from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Psychology, she completed Americorps service terms with the Minnesota and Montana Conservation Corps. During these assignments, she worked on various conservation projects and spent time exploring wilderness areas. She recently graduated from Colorado State University with an MSc degree in Conservation Leadership. Following her research interest in adaptive management and governance structures, her thesis was focused on the potential for co-management of a national park between the federal government and tribes in New Zealand.            
Leah is a Researcher in Region 4, and is working on the Teton, Gros Ventre, Bridger and Jedediah Smith Wilderness Areas.                                                                                       
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The Society for Wilderness Stewardship is a non-profit, charitable organization under the 501 (c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue Code.