Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellow

American Rivers

Washington, DC, US


The Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellowship at American Rivers provides an excellent professional development opportunity for talented post-graduates pursuing careers as leaders in the field of conservation advocacy. Recent graduate degree (MA/MS/PhD/JD/MBA) recipients will focus on an applied research project that will make a tangible contribution to American Rivers’ mission. Working with a team of professional staff, the Fellow will apply practical research and advocacy skills and develop a network of professional contacts in their field of expertise. The Fellow will be an integral part of a dynamic organization comprised of experienced conservationists and emerging leaders, and will participate in a range of river conservation activities.

This fellowship honors the memory of Anthony A. Lapham who served for many years on the board of American Rivers, including as its Chairman. The program reflects his integrity, intellect, concern for humanity and commitment to excellence. We seek candidates who possess these qualities.


The goals of the Anthony A. Lapham Fellowship Program are to develop the next generation of conservation leaders, and to generate work products that directly support the mission and goals of American Rivers. Advancements in river conservation will be especially important during the coming years due to the extreme pressure on rivers, headwater streams and freshwater supplies brought on by climate change, population growth and demographic change, and development. We need to develop the next generation of skilled leaders who can promote practical environmental solutions that achieve measurable results for natural and human communities.

The Lapham Fellow will help shape community-oriented solutions to river conservation challenges, educate civic leaders about the benefits of healthy rivers, inform legislative and legal proceedings, and influence opinion leaders. The Fellowship includes the implementation of a project that directly supports the goals of one or more of American Rivers’ conservation programs.

The Fellow will play an important role in implementing American Rivers’ strategic plan, which identifies 11 priority river basins where we will focus our work over the next five years. The Fellow’s project will contribute to our efforts in one of our priority basins and fall within one of three categories: (1) sustainably managing freshwater resources to preserve quality and flow; (2) restoring rivers (through approaches such as dam removal and reoperation) and achieving natural flood protection by restoring the natural functions of rivers, wetlands and floodplains; or (3) conserving America’s heritage by protecting our remaining free-flowing rivers and connecting communities to their rivers. Projects might include exploration of the potential of particular river conservation strategies; economic analysis of the contributions of healthy rivers to employment, property values, public health and safety and other community priorities; the impacts of poorly managed rivers on water supply, flooding or public safety; or the potential for certain policy prescriptions or best management practices to contribute to river health and community welfare. The topics are developed based on the needs of the organization and the interests of the successful Fellowship candidate.  The Fellow will publish results in an appropriate format and present their project results to various audiences including American Rivers’ staff.

The 24-month Fellowship will be supported by a team of conservation staff and members of our Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, which includes some of the nation’s foremost experts on freshwater conservation science and policy. Conducting an applied research project under the guidance of expert advocates will provide the Fellow with invaluable experience as they begin their career. In general, the first year of the Fellowship is spent researching the decided project, and the second year is spent implementing the project on the ground. Based on the parameters of the project and available resources, there is the potential for opportunities to travel to river basin that is the focus of the project or even to be relocated in the second year.

Fellows will be provided with opportunities for professional experiences unique to Washington, DC, including legal and policy, economic, and scientific analysis of federal legislation and proposed rules, lobbying training, participation in meetings with congressional offices and federal agency officials, and attendance at congressional hearings, federal court proceedings, etc. Additionally, Fellows will engage in organizational activities including staff meetings and retreats and National River Cleanup® activities.


  • Graduate degree in environmental science, stream ecology, hydrology, geomorphology, public health, public policy, law, natural resource economics, engineering, or related fields
  • Dedication to environmental principles
  • Extensive research and analysis skills
  • High academic achievement
  • Proven leadership ability
  • Effective verbal and written communication skills
  • High degree of personal integrity
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work both autonomously and as a member of a team in a professional environment
  • Ability to travel as necessary


  • Resume – Description of your work experience (both paid and volunteer) including an outline of each job/responsibilities, contact information for each employer, and dates of employment.
  • Transcripts – Official transcripts for all higher education institutions attended must be submitted. We accept unofficial copies of transcripts for the application process, but those contacted for an interview will need to provide original transcripts at that time.
  • Letters of Recommendation – Two letters of recommendation are required. You may choose to have faculty members or current/former employers submit these letters. Letters should be sent directly from the recommenders. A Letter of Recommendation Instruction Form can be found here and should be provided to all recommenders for guidance in writing the letters.
  • Academic Mentor Information – Preference will be given to candidates that identify an academic mentor who will assist during the duration of the Fellowship. Please submit bio of and letter from your academic mentor with your application. Letters should indicate the mentor’s willingness to fulfill the duties of this role. An Academic Mentor Instruction Form can be found here and should be provided to your mentor as guidance in writing the letter.
  • Personal Statement – Please submit an original essay with your application. The essay should be 2-3 pages in length, no less than 11 point type, at least 1.5 line spacing, typed in Times New Roman font, and have at least 1 inch margins. Your essay should address the following:
    • What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
    • How will this fellowship assist you in accomplishing your goals?
    • How has your academic training/field of study, employment history, and volunteer experience prepared you for this fellowship?
    • What can serve as evidence of your leadership skills and ability?
  • Project Proposal – Please submit a two-page proposal for an applied research project that falls within one of four general topics listed below. This part of the application will give us a sense of how you might approach an applied research project that will directly support the goals of one or more of American Rivers’ conservation campaigns. Essays will be judged less on the specifics of the proposed research and more on the thinking behind it. The topic you write on may or may not end up being the focus of research in your fellowship year.

Your proposal should address a specific challenge to river conservation and make the case for how your research project would advance a practical solution to that challenge. The proposal should include a goal statement (the desired outcome of the project), the target audience(s) (stakeholders the project could/should influence and how it would do so), and the means for reaching the audience(s) (publications, workshops, webinars, etc.). To the extent possible, include any limitations or constraints you might encounter and specify any partners you might wish to involve. You should specify any additional costs such as outside consultants, equipment, significant travel, or printing that the project may entail. Additional funds may be available, but the need for extra monies will not influence the final decision. American Rivers welcomes proposals for research in the fields of science, economics, law, and public policy. Proposals taking an interdisciplinary approach are also welcome. Should your proposal become the focus of your Fellowship, American Rivers reserves the right to alter or amend the chosen project, in consultation with you, in order to best suit specific program needs.

Your proposal should be a design for implementation of a project that addresses a specific river conservation challenge in one of American Rivers’ priority river basins, which are places where staff will be focusing their work over the next five years. A strong topic will create a suite of tools across two or more focus areas to achieve success. Below is a list of the focus areas and river basins in which American Rivers centers its work.

The three areas of focus for the 2017-2019 Fellowship year are:

    • Sustainably managing freshwater resources, with an emphasis of securing supply and water quality for communities while maintaining flow, water quality, and connectivity of river systems;
    • Restoring rivers (through approaches such as dam removal) and achieving natural flood protection by restoring the natural functions of rivers, wetlands and floodplains; and
    • Conserving America’s heritage by protecting our remaining free-flowing rivers and connecting communities to their rivers

The priority river basins are listed below:

  • Colorado River Basin
  • Rivers of Southern Appalachia and the Carolinas
  • Sacramento/San Joaquin Rivers
  • Rivers of the Northern Rockies
  • Rivers of the Puget Sound and the Columbia Basin
  • Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint Basin
  • Delaware River Basin
  • Rivers of the Chesapeake Bay
  • Connecticut River Basin
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin
  • Rivers of the Great Lakes Basin

Only complete applications (letters of recommendation and academic mentor letters can be sent separately) will be reviewed; partial applications will be discarded. For further information about all attachments please refer to the Application Form.

Please submit all materials to [email protected] with your name in the subject line. Applications can be submitted via mail, but email is preferred. If sending the application by mail, send to:

American Rivers
Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellowship
1101 14th Street, NW, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20005

Letters of recommendation and academic mentor letters should be sent via email directly from the recommender/mentor, with the candidate’s full name in the subject line. Recommenders/Mentors can also send letters via mail, but the letter must be enclosed in a sealed envelope with their signature across the seal. Please provide the letter of recommendation and academic mentor instructional sheets to the appropriate parties.

Questions about the Fellowship? Please view our FAQ.

Application Deadline: 11:59 pm EST January 31, 2017

* Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellows are eligible for health and dental insurance as well as generous leave benefits.

American Rivers is an Equal Opportunity Employer Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.