Ecologist/Project Manager

Friends of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is one of the world’s great rivers, a natural resource of global significance. Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) is a leading nonprofit that protects, restores and enhances the Mississippi River and its watershed, primarily in the Twin Cities region. The organization has become a national model for conservation and watershed protection.

Our goals are to: improve water quality; conserve important lands; engage people in learning about and taking action to protect and enhance the river; inspire widespread commitment to this natural wonder flowing through our community; and protect our river’s unique scenic, natural, cultural and recreational qualities.

FMR has an annual budget of $3.7 million and employs a dedicated, professional staff of 19 who work to improve the health of the river through policy advocacy, education and engagement, land conservation and restoration and other disciplines. Over 30 years, FMR has established deep relationships and credibility with thousands of local residents, landowners, neighborhood organizations, volunteers, government agencies and elected officials.

With a well-known and respected brand, a seasoned and effective staff, a strong Board of Directors, and a growing base of support, FMR is poised for continued growth and success. The workplace culture at FMR is collaborative and fun, and staff shares a common love of the river and dedication to the mission of the organization.

FMR believes the Mississippi River connects us all, and that social and environmental issues are woven together. its gifts should flow equally to everyone in our community. We strive to be culturally competent, welcoming and inclusive of all people and are committed to using our resources and influence to redress structural inequality where it intersects with the health and vitality of the Mississippi River. 

The position

The Ecologist will be a member of FMR’s four-person Land Conservation Department and will provide survey, planning, land management and restoration services to landowner partners in the organization’s conservation focus areas. The position will report to the Conservation Director and work closely with the Pollinator Biologist/Wildlife Ecologist (a new position that we’re also hiring for) and the existing Ecologist/Project Manager to conduct plant surveys, evaluate properties, complete land use histories, develop natural resource management plans, monitor restorations, hire and oversee contractors, and manage restoration projects.

The position is right for a hard-working and independent person with a commitment to and a passion for environmental protection and ecosystem restoration. The ideal candidate will have a degree in restoration ecology, botany, natural resources or another related field and will have experience in conducting plant surveys, be familiar with native fauna and have familiarity with some or all of the following: conducting property surveys, developing natural resource management plans and implementing ecological restoration projects of native Minnesota plant communities. In addition to the above, knowledge and experience in pollinator and other wildlife surveys is highly desired.


  • Conduct independent ecological evaluations at specified project locations in the metropolitan area using standard scientific methods, procedures and classification systems. Includes vegetation surveys, documentation of birds and other animals, assessment of erosion and other ecological concerns
  • Prepare detailed natural resource management plans using existing templates, including historical conditions, land-use history, existing conditions, restoration/management goals and methods, project timeline and cost estimates
  • Conduct and lead restoration and land management activities
  • Oversee contractors and restoration projects
  • Keep detailed records of project data
  • Track grant and project budgets
  • Assist in preparing grant proposals and reports 
  • Plan and lead restoration events for volunteer groups
  • Prepare articles and other organizational communication pieces 
  • Develop and deliver educational presentations

Additional Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assist/participate in organizational events, including strategic planning, staff meetings, budgeting, fundraisers.
  • Foster good working relationships with other environmental organizations, agencies and community leaders to help accomplish program goals

Core Competencies

  • Sound judgment with ability to balance independent action with guidance and consultation with colleagues 
  • Ability to work collaboratively and communicate effectively other members of the Land Conservation team
  • Ability to effectively manage own time, prioritize tasks and meet deadlines
  • Complete organizational needs in a timely manner
  • Provide a positive image of FMR to people encountered while in the field    
  • Creative and efficient use of time and resources in planning and managing conservation activities
  • Build and maintain positive working relationships with FMR staff, board, partners and other outside parties

Minimum Qualifications

  • A degree in ecology, conservation biology or a related field (especially ecology, botany or a related natural resource field). Applicants with substantial professional field experience will be considered.
  • Ability to identify a majority of native plants in a variety of different habitats in the Upper Midwest
  • Experience with or solid understanding of standard vegetation surveys methods 
  • Experience writing natural resource management plans and restoration prescriptions
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Proficiency in ArcGIS 10 and the Microsoft Office Suite of programs (word, excel, etc)
  • Ability to effectively communicate with people of all ages in the field or in public forums
  • Ability to direct/instruct volunteers in ecological stewardship activities 
  • Reliable transportation
  • Ability to work outdoors in difficult terrain under adverse field and weather conditions
  • Strong organizational skills including the ability to plan work, meet deadlines and balance multiple projects and objectives
  • Commitment to and passion for the mission of Friends of the Mississippi River

Additional Desired Qualifications

  • Advanced degree in one of the previously mentioned fields
  • Identification knowledge of birds, herpetofauna, or other wildlife
  • Expertise in Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) or Native ways of knowing.
  • Experience conducting or supervising restoration and management activities such as prescribed burning and working with machinery
  • Professional certifications/licenses such as pesticide application or burn training, SER, etc.
  • Experience with aerial photograph interpretation 
  • Knowledge of water quality & erosion BMPs, streambank stabilization, wetland ecology, soil science, tree diseases
  • Grant writing and management
  • Budget management
  • Experience hiring/overseeing contractors

Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time position. The annual salary range is $48,000 – $62,000, commensurate with experience. Benefits include health, dental and short-term disability insurance, a retirement plan with employer match, and generous paid vacation, sick and holiday leave.

To apply, please consolidate your application into one PDF document that includes: a cover letter summarizing your interest in and qualifications for the position; a 1-2 page résumé; and the names, titles and phone numbers of three professional references (or two professional and one personal reference). Please include your last name in the file name and email it as an attachment with “Job Title” as the subject line to Monica Bierma, sends e-mail).

This position will remain open until filled. Applicants are encouraged to apply by February 17, 2023.

Learn more about FMR’s commitment to advancing equityour work and our Land Conservation Department.