Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager

The Nature Conservancy


Leola, South Dakota, USA


The mission of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we develop innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the world’s toughest environmental challenges so that people and nature can thrive. Our work is guided by our values, which include a commitment to diversity and respect for people, communities, and cultures. From a rewarding mission to career development and flexible schedules, there are many reasons to love life #insideTNC. Want to know more? Check out our TNC Talent playlist on YouTube   to hear stories from staff or visit  Glassdoor.

One of TNC’s primary goals is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that employees around the globe have a sense of belonging and feel that their unique contributions are valued. We know we’ll only achieve our mission by hiring and engaging a diverse staff that reflects the communities in which we work. Recognizing that people bring talent and skills that have been developed outside the scope of a job, we take a holistic approach to recruitment that considers life experience in addition to the professional requirements listed in our postings. Please apply – we’d love to hear from you. To quote a popular saying at TNC, “you’ll join for the mission, and you’ll stay for the people.”


The Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager (ASLM) plays a key role in implementing preserve management and stewardship on the Ordway Prairie Preserve in South Dakota.  The 7800-acre Ordway Prairie Preserve lies in the heart of the Prairie Pothole Region; also referred to as North America’s “Duck Factory” because of its significant breeding habitat for waterfowl. Ordway Prairie is also the home to one of the Conservancy’s many bison herds.  

The Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager is responsible for ensuring that all facilities, preserve grounds, and equipment are in good repair and well organized.  They will assist with developing and implementing preserve management plans using an adaptive management process – including chemical, biological, and mechanical control of noxious weeds, grazing management, and fire management as well as participate in research and monitoring programs.  The ASLM will coordinate projects and may recruit and lead diverse teams consisting of staff, volunteers, interns, or contractors.  

The ASLM will assist our team in achieving our sustainability goals for operations on the Ordway Prairie Preserve and with researching, demonstrating, and implementing climate adapted management on the preserve while influencing sustainable management practices in the broader landscape.   

While this position will work primarily from the Ordway Prairie Preserve office, they will occasionally travel and stay overnight at other work locations, especially as needed to assist with prescribed fire across the MN-ND-SD Chapter. This position will require irregular work hours and long days. Work hours can vary from 35 to 50 hours per week with occasional evening, weekend, or holiday work required depending on the season, associated work duties, and availability of other staff. This is a full-time, benefited position with an anticipated starting salary range of $46,000-51,000 depending on experience.  

In order to effectively conduct the essential functions of the position, the Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager will live within 30 miles of the preserve, agreed upon with the supervisor, so that the Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager is able to respond to emergency, urgent and routine issues and events on the preserve including but not limited to cattle and bison management, security, equipment failures and visitors.  

Other responsibilities will include:

  • Working within a budget to complete projects, negotiating and contracting with vendors, and assisting with budget development. Assisting with outreach, fundraising and marketing.
  • Networking with diverse groups, including landowners, conservation partners, government officials, donors, board members and the public to recruit support for the Conservancy and publicize Conservancy projects.  
  • Assisting with livestock management, annual bison roundups, research projects (such as sustainable grazing metrics).


Are you looking for work you can believe in? At TNC we strive to embody a philosophy of Work that You Can Believe in where you can feel like you are making a difference every day. The Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager also has the job of creating Work You Can Stomp Around in.  

We’re looking for someone with strong communication and collaboration skills as well as a desire to learn and grow professionally. The ideal candidate should have good problem-solving skills, the ability to adapt and to take initiative where needed within a dynamic workflow that changes seasonally. This is an opportunity for someone that enjoys both the physical field work of implementing conservation land management as well as the office/academic work of planning, evaluating, and presenting information.

Reach out to Mary Miller, Stewardship Lead for North and South Dakota, at with questions about the position.


  • Bachelor’s degree and 3 years’ experience in natural resource management or similar field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience leading staff or volunteers.  
  • Relationship building experience to work closely with a variety of partners, i.e., media, government officials, internal scientists.
  • Experience completing tasks independently with respect to timeline(s).
  • Experience with communication via written, spoken and graphical means in English and other relevant languages.
  • Experience using common software applications such as Word, Excel, web browsers, etc.

In addition, the following skills and/or experiences would be an asset for this role but are not required. For applicants without these, please view these as areas or skillsets where you will have opportunities for growth and professional development in the Assistant Sustainable Lands Manager role:

  • Knowledge of ecological land management principles, including prescribed fire, ranch management, livestock husbandry, wildlife management and invasive species control.
  • Ability and willingness to apply science to decision-making and guide activities.
  • Qualification as or able to become qualified as a Fire Fighter Type 2 (FFT2), including Introduction to ICS (I-100), Human Factors on the Fire line (L-180), Introduction to Wild Land Fire Behavior (S-190), Firefighting Training (S-130), and work capacity test at arduous level (3 mile walk with 45 lb pack in 45 minutes).  See for more information
  • Ability to recognize plant and animal species as required to complete preserve management and monitoring activities.
  • Experience managing time and diverse activities under deadlines while delivering quality results and working independently and collaboratively with a team.
  • Multi-lingual skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft software applications such as Word, Outlook, Excel, Access, Power Point and GIS applications such as ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online.
  • Ability to operate and maintain various types of equipment in a safe and efficient manner, such as: tractors, chainsaws, small engines, pumps, trucks, ATV/UTVs, mowers, etc.
  • Experience performing basic maintenance on facilities.
  • Ability to obtain required licenses or certifications, such as first aid/CPR, herbicide applicators license, valid driver’s license.  Must maintain a good driving record.


Since 1951, TNC has been doing work you can believe in. Through grassroots action, we have grown from a small non-profit into one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. Thanks to more than 1 million members, over 400 scientists, and the dedicated efforts of our diverse staff and partners, we impact conservation around the world! 

TNC offers a competitive, comprehensive benefits package including health care benefits, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) plan with an 8% employer match, parental leave, accrued paid time off, life insurance, disability coverage, employee assistance program, other life and work well-being benefits. Learn more about our benefits on our Culture Tab on

We’re proud to offer a flexible work environment that supports of the health and well-being of the people we employ.


This position requires a valid driver’s license and compliance with TNC’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.” To learn more about the Auto Safety Program, visit under the FAQ section.

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.


To apply for job ID 52118, submit your cover letter and resume online by using the Apply Now button at by 11:59 PM EST on Saturday, October 15, 2022. Need help applying? Visit our recruitment page or contact

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 people 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.

Do you have military experience? Visit our U.S. Military Skills Translator to match your military experience with our current job openings!

TNC is committed to offering accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in our job application process. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please send a note to with Request for Accommodation in the subject line.