California Central Valley Natural Resource Specialist

POSITION TITLE: RAY Conservation Fellow / California Central Valley 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 Central Valley Office

REPORTS TO:  Jonathan Ambrose, Branch Chief 

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time

LOCATION: 650 Capitol Mall, Suite 5-100, Sacramento, CA 95814




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, 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. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for conservation of the Nation’s living marine resources. Marine resources include species like Pacific salmon and steelhead which spend the greater part of their life cycle in marine waters, and the lesser part in fresh waters. NOAA Fisheries uses its authorities granted through the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), Federal Power Act (FPA), and other federal statutes to manage, protect, and conserve these species and the habitat that sustains them.


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.



This position is based in NOAA Fisheries California Central Valley Office (CCVO), Sacramento, duty station (telework is allowed) and will interact closely with several senior biologists in the office.  CCVO works on a wide variety of topics, including fish passage and fish reintroduction, and implementing Endangered Species Act (ESA), Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), and Federal Power Act (FPA) authorities.  The duties will be a mix of science, policy, and communications to support the priority recovery efforts of the CCVO and can be geared towards the skill set and interest of the Fellow. Potential responsibilities are identified below, but we are open to project ideas that a Fellow may bring to the opportunity. 


CCVO has a tradition of exploring creative solutions to biological and societal issues that impact important natural resources. RAY Fellows may rely upon generous advice and support from CCVO colleagues.  An appreciable body of guidance, templates, and precedents are available for most tasks.  Higher performance levels entail original outside-of-the-box thinking.  We seek candidates who feel comfortable independently researching relevant new information and integrating information of different types to resolve issues and develop innovative solutions.


For this fellowship, the CCVO is looking for candidates that are interested in 1) learning about Pacific salmon and steelhead and their life history requirements, 2) learning about the importance of reintroduction for the recovery of salmon and steelhead in the west coast, 3) learning about and implementing regulatory tools to protect extant populations of salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon, 4) working collaboratively on complex technical issues with WCR staff and developing relationships with representatives of a broad array of federal, state, tribal agencies, non-governmental organizations, water agencies, and key landowners, and 5) positively contributing to the culture of NOAA Fisheries WCR. 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.



  • Develop an assessment of fish passage science needs, and begin to identify likely partners to address those needs (this task will include extensive opportunities to collaborate across NOAA Fisheries and with external partners). 
  • Attend field trips and site visits in California’s Central Valley to develop a better understanding of the recovery potential and increase opportunities for relationship building with local stakeholders.
  • Assist senior level biologists with developing relationships with key landowners/managers and non-governmental organizations on opportunities for reintroduction of salmon and steelhead to historical habitats.
  • Further development of California Central Valley salmonid reintroduction priorities focused on finalizing the 2022 Draft Central Valley Salmonid Reintroduction Strategy.
  • Help develop ESA 10(j) experimental designations for reintroductions for Shasta, Feather, and other priority watersheds.  
  • Support senior biologists in technical arenas to discuss evolving science and policy implications for implementing mitigation and enhancement activities relating to tributary habitat, estuary habitat, predator deterrent or control, etc.
  • Support senior biologists by collecting and analyzing data and relevant reports and contributing to staff memos, presentations, etc.
  • Analyze impacts of federal actions that may affect listed species or their habitats pursuant to ESA section 7.
  • Develop targeted outreach messages that broadcast the CCVO’s mission, recovery priorities, and partnership opportunities.  
  • Engage on inter-agency policy issues through regular coordination with non-governmental organization partners and federal resource agency counterparts at the Department of the Interior, United States Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy. 
  • Present conclusions or recommendations on priority watersheds for reintroduction, and present this information to WCR senior biologists or policy staff, and, potentially, at Regional Forum meetings 
  • Assist in planning and implementing the 2023 National Hydropower Program meeting and populating the WCR Hydropower Program Google Site.
  • Analyze recently-passed legislation to identify key issues, trends, and concerns that may impact the CCVO’s priorities and opportunities.
  • Help support CCVO’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion goals and programs.



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 by the time of employment with major or minor in a natural resources science (examples: biology, hydrology, wildlife management, limnology, oceanography, or natural resources management).
  • An interest in the field of conservation/clean energy and natural resource management.
  • Demonstrated capacity to work well and collaborate with others.
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • An eagerness to learn.
  • Ability and willingness to interact professionally and constructively with people holding different viewpoints.
  • Ability and willingness to work both independently and collaboratively as part of a team.
  • Ability and willingness to learn about complex scientific and technical issues relating to salmon and steelhead migration and fish passage structures.
  • Ability and willingness to learn about NOAA Fisheries’ policies and authorities.
  • Ability and willingness to identify issues, communicate effectively, solve problems, and develop practical recommendations for CCVO technical and policy staff.



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 WCR, 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