Natural Resource Specialist

POSITION TITLE: RAY Conservation/ Natural Resource Specialist

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM: U.S. Dept of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), West Coast Region, California Coastal Area Office, Operations and Policy Branch

REPORTS TO:  Dan Wilson, Operations and Policy Branch Chief and California Coastal Office Division Manager

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time

LOCATION: 777 Sonoma Ave. Santa Rosa, CA, 95404




In an effort to make the conservation and clean energy fields more equitable and accessible, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate environmentally-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color. The RAY Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship designed to equip recent college graduates with the tools, experiences, support, and community they need to become leaders in the conservation and clean energy sectors—one that, in our visions of the future, fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of the United States.



NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), is an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce.  We have five regional offices, six science centers, and more than 20 laboratories around the United States and U.S. territories, and we work with partners across the nation. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for conservation of the Nation’s living marine resources. Marine resources include ocean ecosystems, and in particular the fish, whales and turtles that rely on them.


The West Coast Region (WCR) of NOAA Fisheries works in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho and the associated ocean waters. The teams at NOAA Fisheries are passionate about conservation and protection of the ocean ecosystems.  We use environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Magnuson Stevens-Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to implement our mission. 


We rely on science to help us answer questions and tell stories that can inspire our partners to make sustainable choices and assist the public in meeting the requirements of environmental laws when it comes to actions like fishing, urban and industrial development and making use of natural resources like wind, oil, solar projects. We utilize many formats to help illustrate the science behind our decision making, including written documents, maps, art, photography, and online tools, e.g. habitat mapping tools.


We are committed to recruiting and empowering a workforce that reflects our diverse region and embraces multiple perspectives in the pursuit of our mission and the public we serve. A collaborative work environment that gives voice to diverse perspectives is essential for living up to the mission and solving the complexities of modern stewardship and governance.



The Operations and Policy Branch Fellow will work fulltime in the Santa Rosa duty station and will interact closely with biologists across the California Coastal Area Office (CCAO) and the West Coast Region on a variety of projects associated with salmonid recovery, habitat restoration, and conservation of protected marine species.  Telework flexibility is available for this position; however, the incumbent will be required to report to a NMFS office, or field site, during each pay period.



The RAY Fellow will become a member of the Operations and Policy Branch, and will also interact and work with colleagues throughout the CCAO and WCR supporting our programs through the development of Geographic Information System (GIS) databases, preparing maps, conducting analyzes, and producing GIS documents, and assisting and training users of these products. The RAY Fellow will work closely with colleagues in the WCR that utilize existing databases in order to understand our existing tools, and the RAY Fellow will be encouraged to bring new insight and ideas to how we share our knowledge of the marine environment. The RAY Fellow will also work with staff to support our collaborative efforts with the Protected Resources Division in Long Beach to support the conservation of eelgrass habitat, with a focus on the development of an internal tracking program related to eelgrass impact monitoring and mitigation.

In addition to these primary responsibilities, the RAY Fellow will also have the opportunity to:

  • Research, compile, and confer with the team and colleagues on the findings of scientific/professional literature and the effects on endangered and threatened fish and whale species.
  • Assist in the drafting of regulatory documents for Endangered Species Act and Essential Fish Habitat decisions. 
  • Attend meetings and make presentations that showcase NOAA Fisheries’ varied array of conservation efforts and partnerships.



In addition to the responsibilities at the host institution outlined above, RAY Fellows will spend, on average, 2-4 hours per week (5-10% of work time) on the following:

  • Actively communicating and building community with their RAY Fellow cohort and previous RAY Fellows. 
  • Meeting regularly with mentors both inside and outside the host institution. 
  • Attending monthly professional development webinars, trainings, and other opportunities to build knowledge and skills as scheduled.
  • Developing a Personal Leadership Plan (PLP) in their 2nd year with the support of supervisor(s), mentors, RAY program staff, and their RAY Fellow cohort. The PLP will serve as a tool for self-reflection, planning, and assessing progress towards professional, personal, and leadership goals.
  • Preparing and leading an hour-long end-of-fellowship webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.


RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in late Summer/Fall 2023.
  • A 3-day Mid-Fellowship Leadership Retreat in Fall 2024.



Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial/ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and clean energy and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be no more than 1 year out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2023 (we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation or clean energy.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.
  • For NOAA RAY Fellowship Positions: 1) Must be a U.S. citizen or national (residents of American Samoa and Swains Islands), or Persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence and seeking citizenship as outlined in 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3)(B), or Persons admitted as refugees under 8 U.S.C. 1157 or granted asylum under 8 U.S.C. 1158 and have filed a declaration of intention to become lawful permanent residents and then citizens when eligible, and 2) Submit required documents for a  security clearance prior to beginning the Fellowship, including providing finger prints at designated fingerprinting facility. 



  • A college degree in biology, ecology, environmental studies with experience in GIS, geospatial analysis, data and word processing (or equivalent) by the time of employment.
  • An interest in the field of conservation of marine resources.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • An eagerness to learn.
  • Experience or a strong interest in researching and writing about scientific/environmental topics. 
  • Ability to work well in teams but can function well independently, and manage time effectively.
  • Ability and willingness to identify issues, communicate effectively, solve problems, and develop practical recommendations for CCAO colleagues.



This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one-year renewal) starting on or after June 15, 2023.



The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, who offers a starting salary of $45,000 with a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities. 



To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:


  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website: 


  1. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit one essay response, one visioning response and one short answer response per interested position.


Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 27, 2023. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. 


If you have questions please see our FAQ page, any further questions about the application process can be submitted to