Why a Conservation Career

Since 2008, the State of Maryland has been committed to ensuring that every child in Maryland has the opportunity to learn about their local environment, develop a connection with nature, and have a better sense of place in their natural surroundings. In June 2017, the Maryland Project Green Classrooms Initiative was established, expanding an existing public-private partnership, to promote outdoor experiential activities and environmental education through Maryland’s schools, communities, and public lands. The next step beyond learning is doing: engaging in the stewardship of the environmental resources upon which we depend. Stewardship can grow into avocation and deeper involvement through volunteer opportunities, internships, and jobs.

A career in conservation is not only limited to life science and geosciences, but a wide range of disciplines that support action to protect, preserve, restore, and conserve our natural resources. This “Guide To Conservation Careers in Maryland” is designed to present career options for young adults and career changers who want to make a difference, who enjoy being outdoors, and who are passionate about the environment. It is written by current professionals in the field, drawing from their experiences as students, job-seekers, employees, and hiring managers. Paths to a conservation career can take many routes, including academic or vocational training. Careers may be in local, state, and federal government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, or the private sector. Sifting through the options, or even becoming aware of what the options are can be overwhelming. This Guide lays out the variety of pathways available in Maryland to support your learning: the academic tracks from high school to college and post-graduate work; vocational training programs; internships; and more. There are many possible branches to these pathways, and we encourage thinking about both the more “traditional” environmental careers as well as additional career avenues that can and should incorporate environmental concerns: teaching, community planning, engineering, construction, landscaping, energy, business, public health. Making decisions about your future can be daunting. We hope this Guide will provide resources to help you find the conservation-related job that is right for you.

You are the future generation of innovators. You will have the opportunity to solve myriad environmental challenges. You are the stewards of our planet. Your actions will ensure the health of our soil, air, water and climate. You can take the next step, from learning to leadership.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Visit the Chesapeake Bay Diversity Workgroup website for more information and organizations involved in DEIJ efforts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The makers of this guide and the organizations they represent are committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Many environmental organizations in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed are increasingly committed to addressing the lack of diversity in the environmental field. This encompasses all dimensions of diversity, including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, national origin, citizenship, religion, age, physical abilities, gender, sexual identity, and other factors. We believe fully diverse groups of people who live, work and recreate in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have a right to benefit from, and help guide, the future of an environmentally and economically sustainable Chesapeake Bay watershed with clean water and air, abundant fish and wildlife, conserved lands, access to the water and a vibrant cultural heritage. We recognize the value and necessity of a diverse workforce in the environmental field. We are committed to addressing the marginally excluded representation of certain groups from the Chesapeake Bay environmental field.

In the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Program (the group that coordinates the work under this agreement) adopted for the first time a goal to increase the number and diversity of people who support and carry out conservation and restoration work. In 2016, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay distributed a diversity profile on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Program to approximately 750 people who work for or with the partnership. More than 370 people responded. While some respondents declined to identify their race, 84 percent self-identified as white or Caucasian and about 13 percent self-identified as non-white or non-Caucasian. This is consistent with the “green ceiling” that t​he Green 2.0 campaign has used to describe the decades-long racial composition in environmental organizations and agencies, despite increasing racial diversity in the United States. The partnership has set a target to increase the percentage of people of color in its program to 25 percent by 2025. This Guide is intended to help support efforts to reach this goal. creativity. Leadership in Bay efforts should reflect the diversity of the constituents that live in the watershed and use its resources.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to diverse communities with a rich variation in culture, social norms, and perspectives. Yet, currently, local, state and federal level decision-makers including nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Program partner organizations do not always adequately consider diversity when planning and implementing conservation and restoration efforts throughout the watershed. Without improvement and attention to these issues, few conservation efforts may end up being implemented in underrepresented and underserved communities. To address this imbalance, and to achieve healthy local streams, rivers and a vibrant Chesapeake Bay that is shared by all people throughout the watershed, we need to increase the diversity of people providing input and making decisions related to conservation and restoration efforts. Diversity drives innovation and fosters creativity. Leadership in Bay efforts should reflect the diversity of the constituents that live in the watershed and use its resources.

Competition among employment opportunities and professional engagement presents challenges. A lack of diverse people in leadership roles at the state, local, and nonprofit levels limits the ability of diverse groups to influence decisions. Because federal and state environmental and natural resource agencies are generally not diverse currently, the committees of the Bay Program reflect this reality. Additionally, it is important that Bay Program partners take steps towards fostering more welcoming and inclusive workplaces to achieve lasting diversity goals, including revamping hiring practices that can perpetuate a lack of diversity in their agencies and organizations. This regional commitment to increasing diversity in the field is a positive step that is launching action for future improvements. This Guide will help to alleviate some of the disparities in the environmental field by providing information on opportunities and involvement strategies to connect diverse groups with their desired career path.

What’s in This Guide?

This guide to conservation careers in Maryland is organized into four parts.

  • Chapter 1: Why a Career in Conservation?
    This section explains the objectives of the Conservation Careers Guide. Offered within this guide are the tools and resources presented to the youth to aid in the exploration into the environmental field. It serves to educate the next generation on the many different career paths within conservation and the steps to be taken in advancing towards future employment.
  • Chapter 2: Conservation Careers: Find your Fit
    This section presents a series of fact sheets, with examples of types of careers, education or training needed for those jobs and careers, how to get experience in the field, and professional organizations. Meet current professionals in the field through brief case studies.
  • Chapter 3: Learning Skills for Conservation Jobs–Academic and Vocational Programs in Maryland
    There are numerous options for working in the conservation field that include those jobs that require a 2- or 4-year degree and those that do not. This chapter provides ideas on both degree and non-degree opportunities.
  • Chapter 4: Applying for Jobs​
    This section provides valuable information about the application process when starting your job search. It also lists various places to find different job opportunities including many programs, organizations, and job boards that can be utilized as tools for finding the perfect job for you.