Mark C. Ackelson Fellowship

Do you have a heart for community organizing, networking, advocacy and Iowa’s natural resources? Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) is looking for a dedicated professional to work with us on a temporary assignment to promote increased, reliable, consistent state funding for Iowa conservation. Help us create a stronger trails community throughout Iowa to support effective advocacy for trails, trail funding and policies.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a statewide conservation nonprofit that works with private landowners and public agencies to protect and restore Iowa’s land, water, and wildlife. As part of that mission, INHF is active in efforts to help communities protect natural resources and realize opportunities for outdoor recreation. For over 40 years, INHF has led the way in creating multi-use trail systems, public open spaces and wildlife management areas throughout the state. INHF hopes to advance environmental protection, build community engagement and encourage healthy lifestyles by advocating for reliable conservation and trail funding. 

This fellowship offers the opportunity to work with some of Iowa’s leading conservation professionals, including a variety of INHF staff, state departments, coalitions, state legislators and local leaders. The Ackelson Fellow will gain a thorough understanding of the legislative process and natural resource issues and policy, experience in field advocacy and outreach to communities, and will be help share strategies for policy related action. The Fellow will travel within Iowa, report to INHF’s public policy director, and work closely with the INHF president, trails and greenways program director, communications director and other INHF staff.

Responsibilities: The Fellow will work with staff to help develop an advocacy network system that include individuals, businesses, community groups and elected officials. They will work to identify and meet with stakeholders across the state to discuss the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for Iowa’s natural resource and outdoor recreation programs. This may include developing interview questions, collecting information from local leaders, drafting educational materials, and some statewide travel. The Fellow will further work with staff and partners to create a campaign and communications template for keeping grassroots advocates informed and engaged throughout the legislative session. 

The ideal candidate will have strong networking and communications skills, interest in Iowa’s natural resources, sustainable agriculture, multi-use trail system and political or environmental policy; possesses the ability to work independently; acts with high integrity and professionalism; is detail-oriented; able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and willing to work nights and weekends on occasion.

This full-time fellowship will be active between July 2021 and April 2022, with some flexibility in start/end dates. Monthly stipend and travel expenses are provided. Benefits are not included in this temporary position.

To apply: Deadline- June 15, 2021

Please send cover letter and resume to Administration Director Kari Walker (she/her) at
Questions can be directed to Public Policy Director Anna Gray (she/her) at

About the Mark C. Ackelson Fellowship

This fellowship was endowed at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to honor Mark C. Ackelson, who devoted his career to protecting and restoring Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Mark served as INHF President for 18 years, and provided strong leadership roles for Iowa conservation coalitions plus national organizations that promote conservation and trails.

This fellowship is intended to help launch the careers of future conservation leaders. Fellows work alongside INHF’s professional staff and partners on a select project for a limited time. The focus of the Ackelson Fellowship will likely vary from year to year, as urgent or unusual opportunities present themselves.