TITLE:   Anthony A. Lapham River Conservation Fellow
LOCATION:   Washington, D.C.
DATE:  Summer 2021 – Summer 2023
APPLICATIONS DUE:  January 31, 2021
ANNUAL STIPEND:  $45,000 plus benefits*


Named one of the best groups to support in 2017 by “Outside” magazine, American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 355,000 members, supporters and volunteers. American Rivers maintains a positive work environment with a culture of learning, support and balance. For more information please visit www.americanrivers.org.

American Rivers embraces and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do. Rivers Connect Us is more than just our tagline. The beauty of rivers is that they connect all people and communities, and we seek to build and embody this diversity in our organization and throughout the conservation field. The life experiences, knowledge, innovation, and talent that each individual brings to our work provides perspectives, experiences, and competencies which are critical to our effectiveness in protecting wild rivers, restoring damaged rivers, and conserving clean water for people and nature.


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 conservation policy-related  project that will make a tangible contribution to American Rivers’ mission.  Working with a team of professional staff, the Fellow will apply practical research, coalition-building and advocacy skills and develop a network of professional contacts to advance the project.  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 Chair.  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 policy solutions that achieve measurable results for clean water, healthy rivers and thriving communities.  

The 2021-2023 Lapham Fellow will focus on facilitating the development of a advancing community-sourced set of 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 advancing the goals of the American Rivers’ strategic plan which prioritizes conservation practice and policy focused on healthy rivers everywhere for everyone.    The Fellow’s project will contribute to our efforts to advance river conservation in the fields of clean water and integrated urban water management, river restoration including dam removal, floodplain restoration and natural infrastructure; river protection inclusive of source water protection and Wild & Scenic Rivers; and hydropower reform.   The 2021-2023 Lapham Fellowship will focus on advancing targeted federal policies that will advance our river conservation objectives broadly and will connect to work in one or more of our 11 priority basins.  The final project scope will be developed jointly by the Fellow and American Rivers staff 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 research and policy advocacy 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 basins that are related to the project.

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, environmental planning, 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


  • Completed application form  
  • 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.  
  • 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:   

1. What are your short-term and long-term career goals?  
2. How will this fellowship assist you in accomplishing your goals?  
3. How has your academic training/field of study, employment history, and volunteer experience prepared you for this fellowship?  
4. What can serve as evidence of your leadership skills and ability? 

  • Project Proposal Essay– 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 is intended to give us a sense of how you might approach an applied research project that will directly support American Rivers’ conservation work.  Essays will be judged less on the specifics of the proposed research and more on the thinking behind it. Note that the topic you write on 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 policy 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 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 policy challenge nationally and in at least one of American Rivers’ priority river basins. 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 2021-2023 Fellowship year are: 

  • Ensuring all people and communities have access to clean water and a healthy river in the face of climate change and in the context of historic inequity.
  • Restoring rivers (through approaches such as dam removal and hydropower reform) and achieving natural flood protection by restoring the natural functions of rivers, wetlands and floodplains; and 
  • 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 can be sent separately) will be reviewed; partial applications will be discarded. For further information about all attachments please refer to the Application Form. If you have questions about our online application or uploading your materials, please contact lapham@americanrivers.org.

Please submit resume, transcripts, personal statement, and project proposal in a combined PDF at https://americanrivers.bamboohr.com/jobs/view.php?id=68

Letters of recommendation should be sent via email directly from the recommender to lapham@americanrivers.org, with the candidate’s full name in the subject line. Please provide the letter of recommendation instructional sheet to the appropriate parties.

Questions about the Fellowship? Please visit our FAQ page.

Application Deadline: 11:59 pm EST January 31, 2021

* 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.