Position announcement: Conservation Director

Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) is a leading and growing nonprofit organization working to protect, restore and enhance the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities region. Our goals are to: improve water quality; conserve important lands; engage people in learning about and taking action to protect and enhance the river; inspire widespread commitment to this natural wonder flowing through our community; and protect our river's unique scenic, natural, cultural and recreational qualities.

We have an annual budget of $2.5 million and employ a dedicated professional staff of 19 who work to improve the health of the river through policy advocacy, education and engagement, land conservation and restoration and other disciplines.

Over 27 years, FMR has established deep relationships and credibility with thousands of citizens, landowners, neighborhood organizations, volunteers, government agencies and elected officials. We've become a national model for conservation and watershed protection. 

With a well-known and respected brand, a seasoned and effective staff, a strong Board of Directors, and a growing base of support, FMR is poised for continued growth and success. The workplace culture at FMR is collaborative, fun and staff share a common love of the river and dedication to the mission of the organization.

FMR believes the Mississippi River belongs to all of us and its gifts should flow equally to everyone in our community. We strive to be culturally competent, welcoming and inclusive of all people. We are working toward greater social and environmental justice, using our resources and influence to redress structural inequality in our own organization and where it intersects with the health and vitality of the Mississippi River. We encourage interested applicants from all backgrounds to apply. (Learn more about our commitment to equity.) 

Position Description 

The conservation director leads and manages FMR’s efforts to protect and restore an ecologically functioning corridor of natural habitat along the Mississippi River and important tributaries in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The director leads the conservation team, which currently includes two full-time ecologists. Reporting to the executive director, they will work closely with public and private landowners, funders and other partners to advance the permanent protection, restoration and management of priority parcels within FMR's focus corridors. FMR possesses a modest land protection fund and the director will work with the board to recommend the expenditure of those funds to maximize results. 

This position is right for a seasoned land conservation professional with a passion for protecting and restoring the natural environment — a person who wants to use their leadership, experience and energy to grow and deepen FMR’s impact. The ideal candidate will have strong leadership and management capability, outstanding interpersonal skills and an ability to work with and inspire trust with a broad range of partners including landowners, funders, other staff and board. 

FMR is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from a diversity of candidates. 


  • Serve as a key member of FMR’s senior management team.

  • Provide leadership, direction, management and evaluation of all of FMR’s land conservation efforts and processes, including the development of the annual program budget and work plans.

  • Inspire, lead, support and supervise FMR’s conservation team.

  • Define and clearly articulate the goals of the land conservation program.

  • Lead the implementation of the program’s multi-year strategic plan.

  • Lead FMR’s landowner outreach efforts and foster good working relationships with landowners in FMR’s focus area to promote land protection and restoration.

  • Serve as FMR’s lead staff on land protection projects.

  • Work with the development director in proposal development and reporting for fundraising activities associated with the land conservation program. Take the lead in developing and providing program-specific details required for this fundraising.

  • Manage the process for government grant writing, reporting and invoicing.

  • Assist the Stewardship Director in the development and implementation of educational and stewardship activities related to the conservation program.

  • Assist ecologists in restoration field activities, including plant and wildlife surveys.

  • Identify and combine all the elements essential to fostering new protection and restoration projects (identification, outreach, funding and partnership building).

  • Identify and foster positive working relationships with other environmental organizations, agencies and community leaders to help attain program goals.

  • Provide leadership and support to the Land Conservation Committee of the Board of Directors.

  • Make recommendations to the Executive Director and the Land Conservation Committee regarding the use of the land protection fund.

  • Collaborate with the Communications Director to promote the activities of the conservation program.

  • Collaborate with staff and partners to advance FMR’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals.


  • Commitment to and passion for the mission of Friends of the Mississippi River.

  • Strong knowledge of basic of ecological principles. Knowledge of natural plant and animal communities native to this region of Minnesota is desired. 

  • At least five years of land conservation experience with a record of increasing responsibility.

  • Thorough understanding and experience using conservation real estate methods, options and tools.

  • Bachelor’s degree (advanced degree preferred) in biology/ecology or related field.

  • At least three years of experience and demonstrated success in supervising and managing staff.

  • Exceptional interpersonal communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively with multiple internal and external partners.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and comfort speaking and presenting to groups.

  • Proven success in grant proposal writing and grant management.

  • Strong organizational skills including the ability to plan work meet deadlines and balance multiple projects and priorities.

  • Ability to work collaboratively across multiple internal departments and program areas.

  • Ability to work outdoors in a range of weather conditions and terrain.

  • Ability to work a flexible schedule, including occasionally long hours, some evenings and occasional weekends.

Salary & Benefits

This is a full-time position. The salary range is $62,000–$68,000, commensurate with experience. Benefits include health, dental and short-term disability insurance, a retirement plan with employer match, parking/transit allowance and generous paid time off.

To Apply 

Please consolidate your application into one PDF document that includes: a cover letter summarizing your interest in and qualifications for the position, a 1-2 page resumé, and the names, titles and phone numbers of three professional references (or two professional and one personal reference). 

Please include your last name in the file name and email it as an attachment with “Conservation Director” as the subject line to sdekok@fmr.org 

Application Deadline

The position will remain open until filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply by October 7, 2020.