An Inside View: Nonprofit Organizations

“Breadth more than depth” is a common theme for nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit organizations are popular employers for Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER) graduates because these organizations apply conservation practices and methods. Nonprofits have powerful mission statements and values which speak to our graduates. Employees work with a team of professionals with diverse skills tackling a broad spectrum of complex environmental issues including sustainable agriculture, renewable resources, and land management.

Triangle Land Conservancy

FER alumna, Dymond Generette, started as a North Carolina Community Engagement Intern at Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC). During her internship, Dymond’s supervisor encouraged her to apply to an Americorps position through TLC as a Community Engagement Coordinator, which is her current position. As a Community Engagement Coordinator, Dymond plans events, recruits and manages volunteers, and oversees partnership development at the Williamson Preserve in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dymond enjoys the welcoming work environment TLC provides and enjoys the flexibility of her position. When asked about her favorite aspect of the position, she explained, “I like being able to create new and innovative events at TLC without going through a long, formal process. As long as I present my ideas with details, they are usually approved and accepted promptly.”

Environmental Defense Fund

Dan Whittle is an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) where he provides legal counsel and serves as lead advocate and lobbyist on issues like factory hog farm pollution, private forestland management, overfishing, and coastal zone management. In addition to serving as an attorney, Dan also communicates with the media and gathers funds for the EDF. Dan’s position requires a fair amount of traveling and formal events. For example, he travels to areas like Puerto Rico and Cuba for business-related meetings, conferences, and scientific expeditions. In fact, in 2000, Dan founded EDF’s marine conservation/fisheries work in Cuba where he is in charge of strategy, fundraising, media relations, government relations, and managing a team of scientists, economists and policy experts. However, if he is in the office, Dan spends the majority of his time reading, on the phone with clients or sending emails.

The Nature Conservancy 

After receiving her PhD in 2010, Dr. Elizabeth Kalies wanted to create an impact by applying her academic background, which she found with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Dr. Kalies is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which is a unique and rare position in nonprofit organizations. She helps ensure TNC’s conservation impacts are backed by sound science. When an emerging issue comes out, Dr. Kalies uses existing data to discover how TNC can promote the issue in a responsible way. The fieldwork-to-office ratio for this position depends on the current project, but Dr. Kalies estimates about 20% of her time is spent in the field. One aspect of this position Dr. Kalies appreciates is the diversity of landscapes, habitats and issues. “One of my work weeks can possibly include traveling to Asheville to look at forest carbon, working on sustainable agriculture in Nags Head, and studying impacts of solar farms on wildlife in the Piedmont.” Dr. Kalies also added she enjoyed seeing beautiful places while contributing to their conservation.

Best advice for pursuing a nonprofit career: Get familiar!

Similar to previous “An Inside View” career blog themes, our nonprofit professionals encourage volunteering and/or interning. According to Dr. Elizabeth Kalies, interning with The Nature Conservancy is a pathway to getting hired. She added, “We often see familiar faces when a position opens up. If you’re known, it’s an advantage.” Interning and volunteering is also a great way to learn about an organization’s variation, which can lead to more informed decisions for future employment options within the organization. Many nonprofits specialize in different issues or topics, so finding a niche within the organization is important for attaining a position in the future.

Each of the professionals interviewed pursued positions from an organization with resonating missions. Finding the right nonprofit for you is essential to feeling fulfilled in a nonprofit career.  In order to discover if an organization is an adequate fit, become familiar with their values, what the organization does, and how to apply your skills. If you want to become a change maker and enjoy gaining knowledge about a spectrum of conservation issues, a position with a nonprofit organization could be a great option for you!

Interested in getting involved with the mentioned organizations?

Triangle Land Conservancy:

Visit their events page for upcoming events, sign up to volunteer, or sign up for eNews to stay in touch!

Environmental Defense Fund:

Contact Dan Whittle (dwhittle@edf.org) for an informational interview about the EDF and everything they do!

The Nature Conservancy:

Keep updated with The Nature Conservancy by checking out their job board!

Written by: Leslie Smith