Water Fund Project Manager

Bloomington, IL, United States 🇺🇸


The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working to make a positive impact around the world in 69 countries, all 50 United States, and your backyard. Founded in 1951, the mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit www.nature.org/about-us to learn more.

The Nature Conservancy offers competitive compensation, 401k or savings-plan matching for eligible employees, excellent benefits, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We also provide professional development opportunities and promote from within. As a result, you will find a culture that supports and inspires conservation achievement and personal development, both within the workplace and beyond.


The Water Fund Project Manager is responsible for development, coordination, and implementation of a source water protection fund or similar conservation investment model for the Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake watersheds in central Illinois to improve water quality and reduce sedimentation in a system serving about 80,000 people. The Water Fund Project Manager will work with the City of Bloomington, farmers and landowners, our science partners, financial partners and other key stakeholders to implement in-field and edge-of field conservation practices in the watersheds. The Project Manager will work in close coordination with TNC’s NatureVest, Global Water and Water Funds programs, who will provide support related to the financial, legal, governance, and operational mechanisms for the Water Fund.Among TNC’s global network of water funds, the Bloomington water fund is noteworthy for its robust scientific and economic underpinnings, emphasis on nutrients affecting water quality, and broad applicability to agriculture-dominated watersheds globally.


The Water Fund Project Manager brings a strong conservation commitment to the Illinois water team, specifically enthusiasm to design and implement in-field and edge of field agricultural solutions that improve water quality for nature and people. S/he coordinates staff from TNC (Illinois, North American and Global Water Teams, and NatureVest) with partners including the City of Bloomington, McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District, farmers and landowners, US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, University of Illinois and Illinois State University, in establishing the Bloomington Water Fund, an innovative conservation finance mechanism to deploy in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices to improve water quality. The Project Manager cultivates and maintains relationships with partners and key stakeholders in the watershed, works collaboratively in the development of financial, legal, governance, and operational mechanisms for the Water Fund. The Project Manager implements project management and highly effective teams techniques to ensure timely progress of the project(s). S/he oversees and actively promotes the project to stakeholders, communities, and/or donors to raise awareness and support. S/he integrates research findings into conservation strategies that focus on reducing nutrient loss from farm fields (via conservation tillage, cover crops and advanced nutrient management), capturing nutrients (constructed wetlands) and minimizing delivery of nutrients and sediments to the drinking water reservoirs (riparian buffers, stream restoration). S/he employs a full range of tools to create appropriate elements of a water fund or similar conservation investment model. S/he applies the findings from this project to similar water sources challenged with excess nutrients, and to TNC’s goals for reducing nutrient delivery from the Mississippi River basin to the Gulf of Mexico. Funding for this position has been secured for a period of two years with a strong likelihood of continued support.


  • Building from an extensive inventory of research, monitoring, and economic analysis, catalyzes the establishment and implementation of the Bloomington Water Fund.

  • Develops and sustains effective working relationship with key stakeholders in the watershed, including farmers, landowners, municipal officials, conservation partners, investors and external advisors.

  • Works with farmers, landowners, municipal officials, and investors to identify and implement conservation practices that leverage state and federal conservation program resources and achieve water quality/quantity goals.

  • Gains cooperation from partners, stakeholders, and other outside parties to accomplish the goals of the water fund.

  • Leads an interdisciplinary team to quantify the potential for water funds and other conservation investment models to contribute to nutrient reduction goals for the Mississippi River basin.

  • Manages a balanced budget to complete activities, negotiating and contracting with vendors, and assisting with budget development.

  • Ensures project compliance with internal policies and external requirements.

  • Under minimal supervision, makes independent decisions based on analysis, experience and judgment.

  • May lead interns or volunteers on a project basis.

  • Assists with public and private fundraising sufficient to meet project needs.

  • May manage multiple grants, contracts or requests for proposals.


  • BA/BS degree and 5 years’ experience in natural resources, agriculture, finance, or government relations or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience negotiating complex agreements.
  • Experience managing multiple priorities, with assignments sometimes coming from a number of sources.
  • Experience managing and maintaining compliance with public and/or private grant obligations.
  • Experience communicating with stakeholders, the public and/or media both in writing and verbally about the social, economic and ecological benefits of the water fund.
  • Experience using applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Web Browsers.
  • This position requires a valid driver’s license and compliance with the Conservancy’s Auto Safety Program.


  • Master’s degree and 7+ years’ experience in natural resources, agriculture, finance, or government relations.

  • Experience with agricultural stakeholders and Farm Bill programs.

  • Experience with water resource management, research, monitoring, and/or policy.

  • Demonstrated experience in partnership building.

  • Experience in developing conservation finance vehicles or mechanisms to scale up funding for conservation.

  • Experience with current trends and practices in drinking water, stormwater and Clean Water Act policy, regulation and green infrastructure implementation.

  • Ability to complete tasks independently with respect to timeline(s).

  • Excellent communication skills via written, spoken and graphical means.

  • Excellent negotiation skills.

  • Excellent project and meeting management skills.


This position requires a valid driver’s license and compliance with the Conservancy’s Auto Safety Program. Employees may not drive Conservancy-owned/leased vehicles, rental cars, or personal vehicles on behalf of the Conservancy if considered “high risk drivers.” Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at www.nature.org/careers.

Employment in this position will be contingent upon completion of a Vehicle Use Agreement, which may include a review of the prospective employee’s motor vehicle record.

This position has a projected 2018 end date.


To apply to position number44538, submit resume (required) and cover letter separately using the upload buttons. All applications must be submitted in the system prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 26, 2016.

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The Nature Conservancy is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Our commitment to diversity includes the recognition that our conservation mission is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of men and women of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and culture. Recruiting and mentoring staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character is a priority and we encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

The successful applicant must meet the requirements of *The Nature Conservancy’s background screening process.*

Job Title: Water Fund Project Manager

Location: Illinois

Job ID: 44538

Regular/Temporary: Regular

Full/Part Time: Full-Time