Leola Hills Land Steward

The Nature Conservancy

Location: Leola, SD
Status: Salaried


Since 1951, The Nature Conservancy has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on. As a science-based organization, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that we can create a world in which people and nature thrive. We’re rooted in our Mission and guided by our Values, which includes a Commitment to Diversity and Respect for People, Communities, and Cultures. We know we’ll only achieve our Mission by hiring and engaging a diverse workforce that reflects the communities in which we work. Whether it’s career development, work/life balance, or a rewarding mission, there’s lots of reasons to love life #insideTNC. Our goal is to cultivate an inclusive work environment so that all of our colleagues around the globe feel a sense of belonging, and that their unique contributions to our mission are valued.

Although you’ll see requirements in our postings, we recognize that people come with talent and experiences outside of a job. Passion, innovation, and diversity are all key components to advancing our Mission and we encourage you to apply.

All TNC staff based in the U.S. or a U.S. Territory are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Proof of receiving one of the vaccines approved in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) shall be condition of employment and must be provided prior to starting work. TNC is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and reasonable accommodations for candidates who cannot be vaccinated due to a valid medical or religious reason will be considered.


The primary role of the Land Steward is to develop, manage and implement conservation programs, plans and methods for the S. H. Ordway Prairie Preserve and assist with coordinating conservation projects in the landscape. 

The Steward will 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. This is a full-time position with a robust benefits package. Starting salary for this position is anticipated to be in the range of $45,000-$49,500 DOE. Work hours can vary from 35 to >50 hours per week with possible evening, weekend, or holiday work required depending on the season and associated work duties. In order to effectively conduct the essential functions of the position, it is strongly suggested the Land Steward live on the preserve or within a reasonable distance agreed upon with the supervisor. A two- story house with 4 bedrooms, 1 bath, and all major appliances (stove, refrigerator, washer/dryer) located on the preserve is available for lease at $500/month (includes electric, heat, and water paid by TNC).


The Land Steward plans, directs and implements stewardship for TNC’s 7,800-acre Ordway Prairie Preserve and conservation programs in the landscape. This includes a range of activities and responsibilities. They will coordinate projects and may supervise crews consisting of staff, volunteers, interns, and/or contractors. They will be responsible for ensuring that all facilities, preserve grounds, and equipment are in good repair and well organized. They will implement 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 Land Steward will assist with livestock management including daily care of the resident bison herd. Additionally, the Land Steward will serve as a community liaison and promote the Conservancy’s mission by assisting visitors and partners on identified projects, including leading education and outreach events for diverse audiences.


  • Performs tasks with minimal supervision and makes independent decisions based on analysis, experience and context.
  • Recruits and leads diverse teams.
  • Ensures program compliance with internal policies and external requirements.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.
  • May work long hours in isolated settings.
  • Responsible for safe operation and maintenance of buildings and grazing infrastructure (such as fence, corrals, and watering stations) and equipment (ATV/UTVs, chainsaws, 4WD vehicles, skid-steers/tractors and attachments)
  • Financial responsibility may include working within/managing a budget to complete projects, negotiating and contracting with vendors, assisting with budget development and assisting with fundraising efforts.
  • Assist with outreach, fundraising and marketing.
  • Network 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.
  • Perform ecological management tasks such as biological monitoring, invasive species control and fire management.


  • Monitor compliance of leases and other contracts; work with other Conservancy staff to solve non-compliance issues.
  • Assist with grazing and livestock management such as daily care of cattle/bison, annual roundups, assistance with research projects and data collection.
  • Will travel to provide stewardship of other properties, to assist other programs, and for training or meetings.


  • Bachelor’s degree and 3 years’ experience in natural resource management or similar field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience managing 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.
  • Experience in training.
  • Must have valid driver’s license.


  • Over 3 years’ experience in natural resource management, similar field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Ability and willingness to apply science to decision-making and to guide activities.
  • Must be qualified as or able to meet qualifications of a Fire Fighter Type 2 (FFT2). See https://www.tncfiremanual.org/FIrefighter.htm
  • Ability to pass annual fitness test (carrying a 45-pound pack over 3 miles of level terrain in 45 minutes or less).
  • Ability to recognize plant and animal species as required to complete preserve management and monitoring activities.
  • Knowledge of ecological land management principles, including prescribed fire, ranch management, livestock husbandry, wildlife management and invasive species control.
  • Experience managing time and diverse activities under deadlines while delivering quality results and working independently.
  • Working knowledge of software applications such as Word, Outlook, Excel, Access.
  • Experience with GIS, GPS, and maintaining databases.
  • 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 maintaining facilities.
  • Ability to follow instructions and work cooperatively with others.
  • Supervisory experience, including ability to train, motivate, lead, set objectives, and manage performance
  • Ability to perform physical work, sometimes under adverse conditions or in inclement weather.
  • Must have ability to obtain required licenses or certifications, such as first aid/CPR, herbicide application, and driver’s license, DOT physical. Must maintain a good driving record.
  • Multi-lingual skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated
  • Open to experimentation, learning and adjustments along the way; ability to push through ambiguity to deliver results.
  • Skilled in lifting up the work of others, often in a behind-the-scenes way.
  • Ability to work independently and think creatively about how to leverage the resources at your disposal.
  • Commitment to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.


This position requires a valid driver’s license and compliance with the Conservancy’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.” Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at www.nature.org/careers.

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 to position number 50566, submit your resume and cover letter separately using the Apply Now button. All applications must be submitted in the system prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on December 12, 2021.

Any questions related to this specific position may be directed to Mary Miller (mmiller@tnc.org). 

Click “submit” to apply for the position or “save for later” to create a draft application for future submission. Once submitted, applications cannot be revised or edited. Failure to complete required fields may result in your application being disqualified from consideration. If you experience technical issues, please refer to our applicant user guide or contact applyhelp@tnc.org.