The Wyss Fellows Program provides campaign experience and training for individuals who have the potential to become future conservation leaders. Fellows work at sponsoring organizations on a variety of projects and campaigns determined by the sponsoring organization during their two-year fellowship. Fellows must focus their work on one or more of the following areas: Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, or New Mexico.
Wyss Fellowships are ideal for talented and committed individuals just completing their education and looking to launch their career in conservation, or for those looking to make a career change. Fellows gain experience in all aspects of conservation advocacy, including policy development, grassroots and grasstops organizing, coalition-building, research and writing, media and communications, and fundraising.
Fellows also participate in annual week-long training programs, where they have the chance to meet and learn about other Wyss Fellows’ work.
If you are an organization interested in applying to sponsor a Wyss Fellow position please see our Application Guidelines.
2018 Wyss Fellows sponsorship applications are now closed. If your organization would like to host a Fellow, please check back in March 2019.
Justin van Wijk
Justin van Wijk is the Community Outreach Manager for Friends of Gold Butte, based in Mesquite, Nevada. He gathers local community and business support for Gold Butte National Monument, while also organizing a corps of volunteers to accomplish stewardship projects throughout the monument's 293,000 acres of amazing Mojave Desert to protect and preserve its natural and cultural resources. (Photo Credit to Karissa Kinser)
Stewart Lewis is the Advocacy Coordinator with the Outdoor Industry Association, based in Boulder, Colorado. He’s working on recreation policy at the state and local level, including establishing state offices of outdoor recreation and ensuring sustainable, dedicated funding mechanisms are in place to support close to home recreation.
Grecia Nuñez is the Public Lands Fellow with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, based out of Las Cruces, New Mexico. She’s helping connect diverse communities, especially youth, with the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument while defending and protecting it for future generations. She is also helping to organize a diverse and representative base of public lands supporters for the Gila River.
Marcel Gaztambide is the Animas River Campaign Organizer with the San Juan Citizens Alliance, based in Durango, Colorado. He’s helping to build a community engaged with the health of the Animas by providing information on threats to the watershed, elevating the stories of regional stakeholders, and encouraging water users to feel more intimately connected to their water sources.
The Wyss Scholars Program supports the graduate-level education of a new generation of leaders in western land conservation. Wyss Scholars learn the latest in conservation law and policy and apply that knowledge in careers at land management agencies and nonprofit conservation groups. Wyss Scholarships are awarded to students currently enrolled at one of the six host schools.
The Wyss Scholars Program covers up to half of the tuition and expenses of getting a Masters degree or a third of the tuition and expenses of getting a Law degree. Half of the award is made during the Masters or Law Program, and the remainder is available for Scholars who enter qualifying employment. Scholars are also awarded up to $5,000 to cover their summer internship to provide conservation work experience.
The Wyss Scholars Program also provides access to a broad community of current and past Scholars–people who share an interest and passion for conservation and are working to protect western landscapes.
For the purposes of the Wyss Scholars Program, the American West is defined as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming. The application process for the 2019 cohort of Wyss Scholars will begin next Fall. Please check with the program coordinator at your school for more information.
I am honored to be Colorado Law’s inaugural Wyss Scholar! I wanted to be a Wyss Scholar because I was excited at the opportunity to be part of a community that strives to carry the torch on issues affecting western public lands. I have been a beneficiary of the public lands in my home state of Colorado my entire life. As such, I entered law school with the full intention to spend my career protecting them—and others like them across the West. The Wyss Foundation has played a huge role in helping me realize that goal.
Currently, I am writing a note on Congress’ decision to use the Congressional Review Act to kill “Planning 2.0”—a major proposed update to the BLM’s land planning process—for the Colorado Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Review (https://www.colorado.edu/law/research/journals/colorado-natural-resources-energy-environmental-law-review ). I am also working as a student attorney for Colorado Law’s American Indian Law Clinic (https://www.colorado.edu/law/academics/clinics/american-indian-law-clinic ) on issues centering on natural resource extraction projects affecting indigenous land.
In the future, I hope to find a way to help foster dialogue between government agencies, conservation groups, and local stakeholders to create workable, conservation-minded solutions to the unique problems that confront the vast western public lands system. I feel that it is critical to do so while we still have so much public land available to us.
I look forward to spending my career working in the public interest sector to conserve our public lands, “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
As a Wyss Scholar at the University of Montana Law School, I am extremely proud to be part of a community of leaders focusing on protecting the lands of the Intermountain West. While growing up in the Mojave Desert and later in the Northern Rockies, I gained a deep appreciation and love for the Intermountain West. This love drove me to attend law school so I could become a better advocate in the fight to protect our cherished lands and environment. The incredible support from the Wyss Foundation has reinforced and reinvigorated my plan to work at an environmental law non-profit after law school.
My current work focuses on environmental law issues throughout the West. As a member of the University of Montana’s Public Land & Resources Law Review, I regularly write case summaries focused on topics such as the Endangered Species Act and the Pygmy Owl, the National Environmental Policy Act and coal mining proposals in Montana, and a forthcoming summary of a recent Ninth Circuit decision expanding the Clean Water Act’s reach. Additionally, I currently serve on the board of the Montana Environmental Information Center, and this summer I will be working with Earthjustice in their Northern Rockies office in Bozeman.
My commitment to and excitement for a career in environmental law and protection is unwavering. In the future, I plan to use the tools I am currently learning, such as collaborative conflict resolution techniques, negotiation, and, when needed, litigation to help achieve necessary protections of the West. When I’m not studying, you can usually find me in the woods, on the river, or strumming my guitar!
I am incredibly appreciative and enthusiastic about my selection as a 2018 Wyss Scholar! I pursued the scholarship as I felt the Wyss Foundation’s strong commitment to protecting vulnerable Western landscapes closely aligned with my academic and professional work. The Wyss Scholar opportunity will provide me the opportunity for professional mentorship and development coupled with generous financial support, allowing me to further develop my skills as a facilitative leader and conservation professional.
My work is focused on natural resource conflict resolution and environmental justice—particularly around water in the West. I am currently serving as Project Coordinator with the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy to convene a multi-party dialogue on the future of the Columbia River Treaty. This coming summer I will be working with The Nature Conservancy in Southwest Colorado on collaborative stakeholder facilitation and water management in the San Juan Basin.
I am deeply committed to developing solutions to complex, Western resource conflicts and advocating for environmental justice in marginalized Western communities. The Intermountain West is my home, and I want to protect its wild places. In my free moments, you can find me exploring Montana’s vast public lands.
I am excited about being the 2018 Inaugural Wyss Scholar at Lewis and Clark University Law School. I wanted to be a Wyss Scholar because I was ready to fully commit to non-profit, public interest legal work, and the Wyss Scholarship will help turn that goal into a reality. Although I have always been interested in protecting the environment and our public lands, law school has helped me to find my niche. I was excited to see that the Wyss Foundation shares the same values I do, along with my love of the West and public lands. The incredible support of the Wyss Foundation provides the clearest path for me to do what I love after law school.
I am currently a Student Clerk at Earthrise Law Center (http://law.lclark.edu/centers/earthrise/) which was founded in 1996 to “…achieve targeted environmental improvement while teaching the next generation of advocates to do the same”.
Working with experienced attorneys to protect our public lands and natural resources has been a fantastic experience. That is why I am so excited to continue working for Earthrise this coming summer. In the future, I hope to be able to do public interest legal work to protect public lands in the Pacific Northwest.
I am currently spending the summer working with the National Parks Service restoration team at Redwood National and State Parks in Orick, CA on the Lower Prairie Creek Restoration Project. My position is to develop a trails system and interpretation in conjunction with the parks Watershed Restoration Geologist, as logged-over second growth is thinned, and historic logging roads are removed to reduce sediment deposition into the creeks and rivers. This history of logging defines the public landscape, but is often a characteristic little recognized by visitors. Developing a network of trails throughout the forestlands that are actively being restored will afford visitors the chance to confront the importance of this history to the park and its surrounding region.
Without the support of the Wyss Foundation, I would not have the opportunity to pursue this experience nor continue my goal of becoming a leader in the conservation of our western forests.