Prescribed Fire Specialist

The Nature Conservancy

Location: Cushing, MN
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 Prescribed Fire Specialist (PFS) will develop and lead The Nature Conservancy’s new programmatic effort focused on a ‘Living with Fire’ strategy. This position will work closely with multiple internal TNC teams to coordinate strategy development, and will engage with a broad set of state, federal, and local partners to advance forest planning and on-the-ground implementation of a fire management initiative as a means to improve forest condition and landscape integrity. The PFS will engage with private landowners and the general public in facilitating a vision for increased use of prescribed burning as a tool for ecological restoration. The Burn Boss directs prescribed fire operations and oversees training and qualifications of crew members at the local level. 

This position will manage the day-to-day implementation of multiple grant funded restoration projects concurrently and in collaboration with multiple project partners. This position requires frequent travel. This position requires a valid driver’s license and compliance with the Conservancy’s Auto Safety Program. Please see further details in the Auto Safety Program document available at

This position is full-time and located in Cushing, MN. The starting salary range for this position is $55,000-$60,000 dependent on experience, in addition to a robust benefits package. The position is contingent upon funding, with funding currently secured for three years. The PFS will collaborate with other program staff to obtain funding to maintain and expand capacity.


The Prescribed Fire Specialist (PFS) provides technical leadership and support to a new ‘Living with Fire’ initiative within The Nature Conservancy’s Forest Program. This position will support strategic action and drive implementation of forest management practices on state, private, and federal lands within central and north-central Minnesota. The PFS directs prescribed fire operations; coordinates fire suppression activities, and develops and reviews Prescribed Burn Unit Plans and Site Fire Management Plans. The PFS supervises seasonal staff in completion of restoration and management activities to protect and restore fire-dependent native plant communities.  They will implement strategic plans, coordinate community support, manage contracts and implement Forest Program strategies. They will work closely with local TNC Staff, serving as TNC Minnesota Forest Program’s fire lead to implement restoration and management on several thousand acres of private and public lands in Minnesota.

The PFS is responsible for safe and effective fire operations, administers physical fitness testing, trains and organizes crew; conducts annual refresher training, and maintains documentation files for crew member training and qualifications. As part of the incumbent’s ongoing professional development, the PFS will be responsible for keeping abreast of new burn techniques and equipment to enhance skills and maintain/grow professional fire certification credentials.  In addition, they shall work to build and maintain relationships in the professional fire community and with many partners including government agencies, indigenous communities, and private organizations. This may include participation in wild land fire suppression activities in partnership with many of these partners, either as a TNC employee, or as a volunteer or short-term employee of the partner entity (such as an Administratively Determined, short term federal employee).


  • Makes decisions in rapidly changing and potentially hazardous conditions that may affect the safety of staff and resources.
  • Supervises seasonal staff and volunteers who serve as Burn Crew Members with responsibility for performance management, training, and development.
  • Maintains training records for seasonal staff. Reports experience and training for crew to Conservancy Fire Manager annually for recording to Incident Qualification and Certification System.
  • Ensures program compliance with internal policies and external requirements.
  • Manage budgets and reporting for a variety of public and private grants, and assist with fundraising.
  • May work in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances.
  • Under minimal supervision makes independent decision based on analysis, experience and judgment.
  • Position will require frequent (sometimes overnight) travel across North-Central Minnesota.


  • Bachelor’s degree in science-related field and 3 years related experience in fire operations or ecological land management or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Must meet NWCG qualifications for RxB2, including coursework and experience requirements. See the Conservancy’s Fire Management Manual for a full explanation of qualification requirements:
  • Must achieve physical fitness standards as set by local Fire Manager.
  • Experience directing prescribed fire operations.
  • Experience training and supervising staff and burn crew members or volunteers
  • Experience leading effectively in stressful situations.
  • Experience using applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Web Browsers.
  • Must have valid driver’s license and good driving record.


  • Multi-lingual skills and multicultural or cross-cultural experience appreciated, especially working with Indigenous communities
  • 3 to 5 years related experience in fire operations or ecological land management, similar field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Relationship building and negotiation skills.
  • Experience working with or knowledge of natural systems.
  • Ability to recognize plant and animal species for executing an ecologically appropriate fire regime.
  • Knowledge of ecological land management principles.
  • Knowledge of current trends and practices in conservation, land management, and natural resource preservation.
  • Experience managing time and diverse activities under deadlines while delivering quality results.
  • Experience using ESRI software ArcMap, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, and mobile applications Collector or Field Maps
  • Excellent communication skills via written, spoken, and graphical means in English and other relevant languages.
  • Experience and safe record of using and maintaining tools and equipment, including chainsaws, mowers, skid loaders, tractors, trucks, trailers, ATVs and power tools.
  • Class A commercial driver’s license or willingness to pursue a class A CDL.

This description is not designed to be a complete list of all duties and responsibilities required for this job.


To apply to position number 50633, submit a cover letter and resume using the upload buttons. All applications must be submitted in the system prior to 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.

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