Science Director

South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)

Nevada City, CA, US

TITLE: Science Director
REPORTS TO: Executive Director
JOB STATUS: Full time, exempt
LOCATION: Nevada City, CA

We recognize this is a challenging time for hiring, both for the organization and candidate. SYRCL will not hire without being able to meet in person, a benefit to both parties. However, we are eager to fill this position and would like to have applications on hand for all interested so we can hire swiftly when the time comes. Phone screens and preliminary video interviews may occur in the meantime to expedite the process.

ABOUT SYRCL:                   
The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL – pronounced circle) was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for 39 miles of the South Yuba River under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. People Can Save a River is SYRCL’s guiding principle. Since our founding, SYRCL has defended the Yuba River time and again. Today, SYRCL is the central hub of community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the Yuba River watershed. With 37 years of achievements, 3,500 members and 1,000 active volunteers, SYRCL is doing great things for the Yuba watershed. SYRCL is a leader in the Sierra headwaters for addressing statewide and regional issues – challenging new dams, recovering endangered species, addressing climate change and drought, water security and water quality.

SYRCL’s interdisciplinary River Science team works to ensure a healthy and resilient watershed through diverse restoration, monitoring, and water quality projects. Overseeing a team of eight, the Science Director shapes our vision for a healthy Yuba River watershed, develops and implements program goals, strategies, and work plans.

Current projects include meadow restoration targeted at improving meadow hydrology, biodiversity and carbon sequestration; floodplain restoration projects targeted at improving salmonid and riparian habitat; mine remediation and monitoring for sediment and mercury; invasive species removal targeted at reducing fuel loads and impacts in riparian areas; forest health work targeted at landscape scale habitat restoration and climate resiliency; and water quality monitoring to investigate trends and issues across the Yuba watershed.


As a community-based organization, public engagement is key to our work and is used to inform our scientific priorities and on the ground management actions. The River Science team contributes to policy, advocacy, legal, communications, education, and restoration work organization-wide. This position will lead scientific engagement and build relationships with researchers in academia, government, and NGOs, while staying engaged with our community and with the broader scientific community, as well.


  • Provide vision and leadership for SYRCL’s River Science Program including river, stream, forest and meadow restoration, effectiveness monitoring, and water quality data collection with the goal of protecting and restoring the Yuba River watershed.
  • Supervise and develop SYRCL’s Interdisciplinary River Science Team, currently consisting of six FTE plus two AmeriCorps members, providing direction on project timelines, goals, and objectives.
  • Develop and implement annual program and project goals, plans, and budgets.
  • Participate on the organization’s Leadership Team and help guide a positive culture for the organization.
  • Fundraise, through grant writing, to support a program with an annual budget of $500k-$1m.
  • Work collaboratively with federal, state, academic, and local partners and contractors to develop and implement projects, maintaining existing relationships and fostering new ones.
  • Provide oversight and analysis support for all data collected as part of the water quality monitoring program and to assess restoration project effectiveness.
  • Design and develop protocols and monitoring plans for project-specific monitoring.
  • Analyze data and report on findings through reports, peer reviewed journal publications, and presentations.
  • Maintain strong relationships with academic, government, and NGO scientists and researchers; attend and present at scientific meetings with an eye for interdisciplinary science that engages stakeholders.


An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed below.

  • Advanced degree in an environmental, biological, ecological, or physical science, or a related field
  • A minimum of six years of experience in watershed science, restoration, fisheries, botany, ecology, geomorphology, or a related discipline. 
  • Ability to supervise, coordinate, train, develop, evaluate and motivate program staff.
  • Proven experience managing multiple, complex state and federally funded grant projects (3+ years).
  • Effective leader with strategic vision and excellent judgment that combines scientific knowledge with political savvy. 
  • Ability to build consensus, develop effective coalitions, and collaborate with diverse interests. 
  • Ability to manage multiple, complex projects in varying stages of development under time constraints with minimal supervision.
  • Strong collaboration, time management, organizational, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills, and a track record of working effectively across race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social identities.
  • Experience developing and implementing restoration projects from conception to completion, including design, permitting, implementation, assessment, and adaptive management.
  • Computer skills required including proficiency with Word, Excel, Access, and skills to become proficient in R and GIS.
  • Possession of a properly registered and insured personal vehicle, and a valid California Driver’s License.


Work Environment:

  • Ability to perform under general office working conditions and variable outdoor working conditions.
  • The position requires regular travel within the watershed and often to Sacramento.
  • Requires working some nights and weekends.

Physical Requirements:

  • Able to work on a computer, including sitting at a desk for extended periods, reading on a computer screen, and manual dexterity to operate a keyboard. 
  • Able to speak clearly on the phone and in person and be understood by others. 
  • Able to hike long distances over variable terrain. 
  • Able to occasionally lift objects weighing up to 40 pounds. 


Salary and benefits are competitive with other Northern California non-profit conservation organizations; salary is commensurate with experience plus paid time off (PTO) and 100% individual health insurance benefits. 


This position is open until filled and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. No phone calls, please.

SYRCL is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other protected status.




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