Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists - Request for Proposals

Online Application Must Be Completed By: January 8, 2014

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in cooperation with its federal partners, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), Forest Service (USFS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announce an initiative to connect youth to the outdoors by providing financial support for conservation employment programs.  The initiative, Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists, brings together public and private partners to support those organizations that are developing innovative conservation job opportunities for youth on public lands which expose young people, particularly urban, tribal and minority youth, to the natural world and career opportunities available in conservation.

In 2014, approximately $1.75 million ($1,000,000 BLM, $425,000 Reclamation, $225,000 USFS, and $100,000 FWS) will be available for matching grants nationwide.  The funding is part of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) effort to provide meaningful employment opportunities to young Americans to protect, restore, and enhance our nation’s great outdoors.  Project work funded through this program is restricted to habitat and species restoration projects that directly benefit BLM, Reclamation, USFS, and/or FWS National Wildlife Refuge System facilities, lands, programs, or mission.

Program Overview

The Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists Initiative will leverage federal dollars with additional contributions from corporations, foundations, and other non-federal sources to provide critical financial support for youth conservation employment programs.  The Initiative is modeled on existing successful programs, such as Federal Youth Conservation Corps and Public Lands Corps, to achieve both conservation work and environmental career development and learning goals through hands-on implementation of habitat restoration, assessment, monitoring, and other conservation-related projects.  This program also addresses an urgent need to put young people, particularly urban and minority youth, back in touch with the natural world which has been shown to be a valuable way to improve academic performance, problem-solving skills, and mental and physical health.

Geographic Focus

The geographic focus is national, with an emphasis on projects located on or directly benefiting the land, facilities, programs, or mission of BLM, Reclamation, USFS, and/or FWS National Wildlife Refuge System.  A portion of the Reclamation funding ($200,000) is specifically available for projects in the Desert Terminal Lakes (DTL) region of Nevada/California that complement the efforts of the Walker Basin Restoration Program (see Appendix B for DTL priorities).  The remaining funding ($225,000) will be available for projects located within Reclamation’s 17 state area. (see Appendix A for examples of Reclamation Youth projects).

Funding Goals and Objectives

The goal of the program is to provide financial support for creative employment opportunities for young people between the ages of 15 and 25 in conservation through a competitive grant program to achieve the following objectives:

  • Innovative full-time or part-time conservation job opportunities (minimum 80 hours per youth)* that include conservation education for young people, particularly urban and minority youth;
  • Hands-on implementation of on-the-ground restoration, stewardship, monitoring, and other conservation related projects to benefit BLM, Reclamation, USFS, and/or FWS National Wildlife Refuge System lands, adjacent areas, facilities and programs directly benefiting the agency’s mission;
  • Partnership building with diverse entities including state and local agencies, urban organizations, tribes, non-profits, corporations, and foundations to leverage federal dollars awarded with non-federal contributions to the project;
  • Mentorship and training opportunities for youth with natural resource professionals, particularly BLM, Reclamation, USFS and/or FWS employees.

Project Evaluation

Proposals will be evaluated on the following factors:

  • Number of youth hired (full-time and/or part-time with an 80 hour minimum per youth);*
  • Quantifiable conservation outcomes (for example, native fish focused stream restoration, species focused landscape restoration, invasive species removal, native plant restoration, wildlife surveys/assessments, implementation of conservation plans, project monitoring, trail restoration, etc.) tied back to federal agency and NFWF priorities;
  • Meaningful conservation career development and mentoring opportunities built into the program;
  • Hiring of urban, tribal and/or minority youth;
  • Plans for long-term sustainability of the project;
  • Diverse partner collaboration and support.

The most competitive proposals will also include one or more of the following:

  • A nexus to a NFWF focal area program supported by a Business Plan.  Business Plans can be found here.
  • Activities at a watershed or landscape level benefiting two or more of the federal partners (i.e. projects that can be co-funded by two or more agencies) or projects benefiting multiple sites (i.e. work across a wildlife refuge complex instead of one wildlife refuge unit);
  • Volunteer or community engagement component;
  • Greater than 1:1 match ratio.

*A minimum of 160 hours per youth is required for projects benefiting U.S. Forest Service lands, adjacent areas, facilities, programs, and/or mission of the U.S. Forest Service.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, state and local government agencies, BLM field units, academic institutions, urban organizations, and tribal groups.  All applicants must coordinate with, and receive a letter of support from, a BLM Field Office, District Office, or State Office; a Reclamation Field Office, Area Office, or Regional Office; a USFS Forest Supervisor or Regional Office; and/or a FWS Refuge Manager.  The letter of support must be submitted with the application prior to the RFP deadline in order for the application to be considered.

Applicants who have not submitted a letter of interest in becoming a recognized 21CSC participant are strongly encouraged to do so.  More information on how to become a recognized 21CSC participant can be found here.

Award Size

Due to funding constraints, applicants seeking BLM funds will be limited to no more than $75,000, applicants seeking Reclamation and USFS funds will be limited to no more than $50,000 and applicants seeking FWS funds will be limited to no more than $20,000.  Projects in partnership with multiple federal agencies will be considered at higher levels.  There is no limit to the overall grant size when match is included.

Grant Period

Project period is six months to eighteen months from contract award date.

Matching Requirement

A minimum 1:1 match of non-federal cash and/or in-kind contribution is required for projects seeking BLM, USFS and FWS funds (a 100% non-federal cost-share of the federal funds is required).  A minimum 1:0.5 match of non-federal cash and/or in-kind contributions is required for projects seeking Reclamation funds (a 50% non-federal cost-share of the federal funds is required).  Projects with higher match ratios and diversity of matching funds will be given priority consideration.


Full Proposals Due: January 8, 2014 (received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time)

Grant Awards Announced: May 2014

On-line Proposal Application: 

Potential applicants can visit to register in our Easygrants online system (if you are already a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information and then select Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists from the list of programs and follow the instructions.  Once you get started, you may save your application in progress and return another time to complete and submit it.  For a list of application questions, please visit this page.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the NFWF staff representative to discuss potential projects prior to applying.  Applicants must collaborate with BLM, Reclamation, USFS and/or FWS field staff when developing proposals to ensure coordination with existing agency programs and activities and to secure the required letter of support.

Points of Contact:

Claire Thorp
Assistant Director, Southwestern Partnership Office
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(p) 415-243-3104

Amy Sjerven
Human Resources Program Management 
Bureau of Reclamation
(p) 303-445-2849

John Moore
Acting Fisheries Program Leader
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
(p) 202-912-7169


A. Example Reclamation Youth Projects

B. Desert Terminal Lake Restoration Program Priorities


Example Bureau of Reclamation Youth Projects

Great Plains Region:  Bonny Reservoir, Colorado

Restore, enhance, and remove invasive plant species within Bonny Reservoir to benefit fish and wildlife.  Bonny Reservoir was drained in 2011 due to orders for releases made by the Colorado State Engineer’s authority.  This left several acres of flooded lands exposed and open to the expansion and establishment of invasive plant species.  The objectives would be to remove, reseed, and manage invasive plant species.  Restore floodplain habitat, original river corridor, and riparian habitat for fish and wildlife.

Lower Colorado Region:  Various potential locations in NV and AZ

Partner with Reclamation to perform general hatchery maintenance, pond harvesting, and marking native fish for stocking.  General hatchery maintenance may include vegetation management throughout the site or in ponds, cleaning of ponds or indoor fish tanks/raceways, repair of fish nets, traps, or other equipment.  The fish marking element of the project will include hands-on training of the use of visible implanted tags, which are injected below the skin of the fish.  Experienced fisheries biologists will train the workers to perform this technique, along with related measuring and data recording, which will provide an educational introduction into fisheries biology.  Activities will be a mixture between typical vegetation and facility management that corps groups are commonly hired to perform, with an opportunity for technical training and skill building related careers in fishery science.

Mid Pacific Region:  Central California

The New Melones and Lake Berryessa Field Offices have a combined total of approximately 40 miles of existing recreational trails throughout the facilities. Additionally, Central California Area Office plans to expand these recreation resources to meet the growing public demand. Work would include the maintenance of existing trails, as well as the development in new trails throughout New Melones and Lake Berryessa.

Pacific Northwest Region:  Oregon

Partnership opportunities are available in Catherine Creek and the Upper Grande Ronde in Oregon for projects that provide on-the-ground restoration, stewardship, and/or monitoring to benefit salmon and steelhead. Projects should include conservation education for young people, particularly urban and minority youth and increased mentorship, field internship, and training opportunities for youth with natural resource professionals.

Upper Colorado Region:  Near Fruita, Colorado

Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office needs assistance in revegetation efforts in an area where Reclamation removed tamarisk and Russian olive along the river and constructed a 2-acre wetland to receive return flows.  Youth crews could be used to transplant wetland plants from other wetlands in the area to vegetate the constructed wetlands, cut and plant willow and cottonwood poles, and plant other riparian plants purchased as nursery stock.


Desert Terminal Lake Restoration Program Priorities

Terminal Lakes are lakes formed at the end points of enclosed watershed basins.   These lakes have no outlets and, therefore, are greatly affected by variations in inflow caused by upstream diversions of surface water, groundwater pumping, and changes in the hydrologic cycle.  Desert Terminal Lakes (DTL) funding was originally established by Public Law 101-171 in 2002 to provide water to a unique collection of at-risk natural desert terminal lakes in the northwestern Great Basin.  Subsequent legislative amendments made clear that the freshwater lakes of concern include Pyramid, Summit, and Walker Lakes in Nevada and their associated watersheds (i.e., the Carson, Truckee and Walker River basins in Nevada/California, and the Summit Lake basin in Nevada). 

All proposed projects must meet the current DTL authority (PL 101-171 Section 2507, as amended), which continues to include providing water to at-risk natural desert terminal lakes as well as the following additional uses:

For the benefit of at-risk natural desert terminal lakes and associated riparian and watershed resources, in any case in which there are willing sellers or willing participants, [DTL funds] may be used –

(1) to lease water;

(2) to purchase land, water appurtenant to the land, and related interests; and

(3) for efforts consistent with researching, supporting, and conserving fish, wildlife, plant, and habitat resources.

A youth work program would provide employment opportunities for young adults and expose them to the career options available in the conservation field, as well as accomplish desired goals of the DTL legislation.

Scope of work

  • Develop and implement an outdoor seasonal work program for young adults.  The program should emphasize work in areas of conservation, wildlife habitat, agriculture, irrigation practices, native plant cultivation and/or restoration, or other closely related fields.
  • Proposals should have a geographic focus in Pyramid, Summit, and Walker Lakes in Nevada and their associated watersheds (i.e., the Carson, Truckee and Walker River basins in Nevada/California, and the Summit Lake basin in Nevada).
  • Season & time of operation should consider adverse weather conditions for working outdoors and student workers enrolled in regular classes.

Proposals should include desired qualifications, knowledge, skills and abilities of supervisory staff.