Journey to Conservation Careers Pilot Program Highlighted as Nexus for Future Workforce
Today, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever provided testimony on Capitol Hill to the House Committee on Agriculture regarding the hearing “Supporting Careers in Conservation: Workforce Training, Education, and Job Opportunities.” The invitation was a unique opportunity to demonstrate how through partnerships, programs, and initiatives, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are contributing to the future of America’s private and public lands careers in conservation.
“As one of the nation’s largest employers of conservation professionals, we know first-hand the importance of developing the next generation of diverse conservationists who will work with agriculture producers and land managers to implement conservation programs now and into the future,” said Marissa Jensen, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Education & Outreach Conservation Leadership Program Manager and appointed speaker for the hearing. “We also recognize our efforts would not be possible without dedicated local chapters and our great partners, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state fish and wildlife agencies, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and so many corporate and private supporters.”
Starting in 2003, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever hired four wildlife biologists to work with private landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices on working lands. Today, the organization employs more than 400 staff – many of whom are resource professionals – that work to restore, enhance and protect wildlife habitat on both private and public lands. At present, The Habitat Organization manages active partnerships in 40 states which have helped improve more than 22 million acres since 1982 with the support of local chapters and volunteers.
Despite the organization’s successes, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have recognized a downward trend for resumes and applications in the conservation sector. As such, the nation’s leading upland habitat conservation group has taken numerous steps to ensure the vitality of conservation education and associated careers for the next generation by utilizing the following programs and partnerships:
National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC): Implemented in 2006, the NYLC identified young leaders within Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever communities who have, and continue to, serve as role models for the next generation on the topics of conservation and other outdoor-related activities. The program has groomed more than 100 young leaders since its inception, many of which have chosen a career in agriculture or conservation.
Journey to Conservation Careers: Building on the success of the NYLC, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are expanding and transitioning into this new program designed to usher hundreds of high school students into conservation careers. In order to meet students where they’re at, this program includes a self-paced, online curriculum for students to receive conservation and biology coursework, followed by job shadowing and scholarship opportunities in the conservation and agricultural fields. Furthermore, it prioritizes historically underrepresented communities and breaks down barriers for participation in conservation. This initiative would not be possible without the support of Bellevue University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Thank you to Chairwoman Spanberger, Ranking Member LaMalfa, and members of the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee for their consideration of our efforts to promote America’s conservation resources, as well as future wildlife professionals who can meet the needs of producers, landowners, and our country’s cherished public lands network,” added Jensen.
For more information about Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s Journey to Conservation Careers, contact Marissa Jensen at MJensen@PheasantsForever.Org.
About Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever
Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever make up the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. This community of more than 400,000 members, supporters and partners is dedicated to the protection of our uplands through habitat improvement, public access, education and advocacy. A network of 754 local chapters spread across North America determine how 100 percent of their locally raised funds are spent — the only national conservation organization that operates through this grassroots structure. Since its creation in 1982, the organization has dedicated more than $1 billion to 567,500 habitat projects benefiting 22 million acres.