During a winter morning on Jan. 23, 2015, young adult fox is pictured before being released from a cable restraint on campus near the Lakeshore Nature Preserve at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as part of a research effort to study the behavior of growing fox and coyote populations in the city of Madison. The research, called the UW Urban Canid Project and led by David Drake, associate professor of forest and wildlife ecology, involves setting fox and coyote restraints, checking the traps twice a day, recording the animals’ medical information and attaching radio collars to allow future monitoring. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Career Development

What can I do with a Conservation Biology Major?

When Aldo Leopold and Norman Fassett, a former UW Botany professor, first initiated the major in the 1940s, they intended for the major to prepare individuals for careers as game wardens, ranger naturalists, and museum workers. As the major evolved, career opportunities evolved as well. Conservation Biology alumni have worked both domestically and internationally in:

  • Conservation and non-profit positions (ex. Conservation International, Audubon Society, and Nature Conservancy)
  • Research and field jobs (ex. Ecological Restoration, Urban Forestry, and Smithsonian Environmental research)
  • Environmental education (ex. Environmental Consultants, Park Service Naturalists, and Teachers)
  • State and government agencies (ex. Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Forest Service)
  • Graduate School (ex. Masters or PhD programs in Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Conservation, or Policy)
  • Other Biological Opportunities (Public Health, Forensic Science, Biotechnology, etc)

Advantages of a Letters and Science Major and transferable skills that are most in demand by employers 

Conservation-related Volunteer, Internship, and Job Resources

Students are encouraged to participate in both in- and out-of-classroom experiences to apply their knowledge and gain practical experience in the field.  Internships, research, study abroad, volunteer, and other conservation related experiences and are encouraged.  Plan ahead by working closely with advisors to build these experiences into your plans.

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Madison, WI Area Opportunities-Volunteer, Internships, Jobs

Greater Wisconsin Opportunties

Aldo Leopold Foundation, Baraboo, WI

Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, Green Bay, WI

Community Conservation, Viroqua, WI

Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Dodgeville, WI

Driftless Land Stewardship LLC, Bagley, WI

Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital, Lake Geneva, WI

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, agency of eleven Ojibwe tribes

Horicon Marsh and Education Center, Horicon, WI

International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI

Lac du Flambeau Natural Resource Department, La du Flambeau, WI

Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, internships and fellowships

National Eagle Center, Wabasha, WI

Primates Incorporated, Westfield, WI

Racine Zoo, Racine, WI

Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, WI

Trees for Tomorrow, Eagle River, WI

Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, Wisconsin Dells, WI

USDA, several Wisconsin locations

Wanakia Wildlife Rehab and Education Center, Richfield, WI

Wild Instincts Wildlife Rehabilitation, Rhinelander, WI

Wildlife in Need Center, Oconomowoc, WI

Wisconsin Bird Conservation Partnership, Ashland, WI

Wisconsin Environmental Organizations

Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advocacy Council, a forum for the eleven federally recognized Native American Tribes in WI

Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Wales, WI

Wisconsin WildCare, South Central Wisconsin

WisCorps, La Crosse, WI

Is there an organization you’d suggest we add to the list?  Email your recommendations to conservationbiology@ls.wisc.edu

National and International Opportunities

Alaska Department of Fish and Game, careers, internships and Workplace Alaska Guide

Amphibian Foundation -Protecting amphibians through research and conservation in Southeastern US and across the globe

Association of Zoos & Aquariums, conservation initiatives

American Conservation Experience, restoration projects in U.S. parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands

Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland & Richland, California

Backyard Basecamp, inspiring Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color (BIPOC) across Baltimore City, MD to find nature

Cahaba Environmental Center, Montevallo, Alabama

Chesapeake Research Consortium, association of seven research and education institutions around the Chesapeake Bay region

Chicago Wilderness Alliance, connecting leaders in conservation, health, business, science, and beyond, we tackle challenging issues to ensure a resilient region

Citizen Science, innovation through public participation

Climate Change Internships, National Parks Service

Climate Justice Alliance, building local alternatives that center traditional ecological and cultural knowledge

Green Muslims, working to connect Muslims everywhere to nature and environmental activism, headquarters in Washington DC

Conservation International, combining fieldwork with innovations in science, policy and finance

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington D.C. headquarters, ten regional offices, and labs/research centers throughout the nation

Forest Service, supporting the next generation of dynamic conservation stewards

Green Latinos, leaders committed to addressing national, regional and local environmental, natural resources and conservation issues

Greening Youth Foundation, engage under-represented youth and young adults, while connecting them to the outdoors and careers in conservation

GrowNYC, improve New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities

Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors, engage their communities in the conservation of our public lands

Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, Promoting Indigenous culturally diversity for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Job and internship opportunities around the world

Internships/Summer Research in Ecology, Animal & Plant Biology, and Marine Science

Latino Outdoors, engage Latino communities in the outdoors

Marine Opportunities, a Sea Grant guide to ocean opportunities

Minnesota Association of Conservation District Employees

National Parks Conservation Association

National Park Service

Natural Resources Conservation Service, one-stop site for information about student and recent graduate opportunities at NRCS

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, NOAA offers educational opportunities to students studying science and the environment

Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, entry level positions associated with the EPA

Outdoor Afro, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature

People for Community Recovery, educating communities on environmental justice in Chicago

Ray Conservation Fellows, aims to increase and facilitate conservation-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color

San Diego Zoo Summer Student Fellowship, Undergraduate Summer Student Fellowships in a variety of conservation related research teams

Semester Schools,  group of schools across the U.S. offering semester-long educational opportunities to HS students

Shedd Aquarium, animal care and conservation, Chicago, IL

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Washington DC, save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, leads research on coastal ecosystems, Edgewater, MD

Student Conservation Association, restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces in all 50 states

UNEP-United Nations Environment Programme, Cambridge, United Kingdom

US Fish and Wildlife Service Directorate Fellows Program, 11-week summer Fellowship for students interested in conservation careers

Wild Tracks International Volunteer Conservation Experiences, connect with results-oriented conservation projects

World Wildlife Federation, conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth

WWOOF Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms

YMCA of the Rockies, summer youth camp in Granby, CO

Is there an organization you’d suggest we add to the list?  Email your recommendations to conservationbiology@ls.wisc.edu

Conservation-Related Job Search, Events and Grad School Resources

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Career Preparation, Events and Information

Graduate & Professional School Exploration and Applications

Graduate School Funding