Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellowship

Elwha River, WAElwha River, WA | National Park Service

The Lapham Fellowship 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 River’s mission.  Working with a team of professional staff, the individual will apply practical research and advocacy skills and develop a network of professional contacts in their field of expertise.  The individual will be an integral part of a dynamic organization comprised of experienced conservationists and emerging leaders and will participate in a range of organizational functions including staff retreats and Board of Directors meetings.

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.


Stormwater flooding in Washington, DCStormwater flooding in Washington, DC | Lynette Batt

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 sprawl. 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’ new strategic plan, which names 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 our freshwater resources; (2) restoring rivers (through approaches such as dam removal) 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 analyses 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. 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. For more information and to view a complete list of the priority river basins, view the application form.

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 policy 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.