Careers at Colorado Open Lands

Colorado Open Lands is looking to fill the following position:

Grain for Cranes Fellowship, August 2018-2020

Colorado Open Lands (COL) is pleased to announce the acceptance of applications for a two-year Fellowship to manage our Grain for Cranes project. This position is based in Monte Vista, Colorado.

COL, MillerCoors, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are working together to better understand the complex relationship between Sandhill Cranes and agriculture in the San Luis Valley (SLV), in south-central Colorado. This Fellowship will focus on understanding private land conservation, agriculture, and public lands management through the lens of Sandhill Crane migration and barley production in the San Luis Valley.

COL, MillerCoors and the USFWS have partnered on this project for a variety of reasons.  COL hopes to gain a steward that can help us with our mission of assisting private landowners (in this case barley farmers) and the wildlife that use private lands. MillerCoors hopes to better understand the people and process that produces barley for beer and how that process interacts with Sandhill Cranes.  The USFWS is seeking valuable information on Sandhill Cranes and how they use both wildlife refuge and private lands for their migration. In the end we hope that the Sandhill Cranes gain more and better stopover habitat as they migrate through the San Luis Valley.

This position will spend 2 years gaining a variety of experiences ranging from monitoring conservation easements on private lands, working on active barley farms during planting and harvest, monitoring and analyzing data on Sandhill Cranes, surveying barley producers, and working with a variety of partners and organizations. In addition, the Fellow will be helping ensure that Sandhill Cranes have enough barley to eat during their migration all while building positive relationships with barley farmers and wildlife refuge managers and visitors.

Specific Duties

  • – Collect, map, and analyze Sandhill Crane baseline data in the SLV (25%)
  • – Identify and map roosting sites
  • – Identify and map barley production
  • – Identify, create routes, and map high priority barley fields annually
  • – Identify properties in the SLV that cranes are utilizing
  • – Identify growing practices on high priority barley fields
  • – Participate in Fall recruitment Sandhill Crane surveys, sampling, and data entry
  • – Participate in post-harvest technique monitoring
  • – Assist MillerCoors agronomist on site visits during barley planting and harvest cycles (20%)
  • – Complete survey of barley producers (15%)
  • – Work with partners to develop survey design
  • – Reach out to barley producers
  • – Meet and develop relationship with MillerCoors barley producers
  • – Determine feelings toward Sandhill Cranes
  • – Determine management techniques utilized
  • – Determine willingness of landowners to participate in baseline research
  • – Analyze data
  • – Complete experiments on combine harvest efficiency and caloric content of different varieties of barley (10%)
  • – Initiate Grain for Cranes payment program (10%)
  • – Identify landowners interest in participating in program
  • – Begin to reach out to landowners and develop contracts
  • – Annual conservation easement monitoring (5%)
    • Monitor approximately 10 conservation easement properties in and around the San Luis Valley.
    • Meet with landowners and prepare report documenting observations from the field
    • Update GIS maps as needed to incorporate GPS field data
  • – Assist with land conservation projects (5%)
  • – Attend landowner visits
  • – Assist with due diligence (title review, appraisal review, environmental report, water rights review, etc.)
  • – Assist with project related grant funding
  • – Assist with conservation easement planning and drafting
  • – Participate in development and community engagement opportunities including public presentations, donor relations and the Monte Vista Crane Festival (5%)
  • – Attend professional learning, particularly as it relates to water use and management in the SLV and networking opportunities (5%)

 Required Qualifications

  • – Bachelor’s degree in natural or environmental sciences, agriculture, wildlife biology, agronomy, zoology, or a related field.
  • – Experience with ESRI ArcGIS computer mapping software
  • – Experience with bird surveys, data collection, and analysis
  • – Experience working with agricultural producers and an understanding of the agricultural industry in Colorado or the western United States
  • – Ability to work outdoors and navigate large farms and ranches independently, often in remote settings
  • – Ability to complete tasks with a high level of accuracy and consistency
  • – Ability to communicate with diverse stakeholders
  • – Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • – Strong organizational, time management and problem-solving skills
  • – A valid driver’s license and good driving record
  • – A positive attitude, sense of humor, and commitment to conservation

Preferred Qualifications

  • Completion of a graduate degree in natural or environmental sciences, agriculture, wildlife biology, agronomy, zoology, or a related field.


  • – $36,000 per year for a two-year term
  • – Housing is provided by one of the partners.
  • – Exempt position, benefits eligible. Benefits include: health and HSA, vision and dental insurances, vacation and sick leave, 401k plan, and conference and professional development stipend.
  • – Start date is flexible, ideally late August or early September 2018.

Colorado Open Lands provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics or other protected status. For information about Colorado Open Lands, please visit our website at

Please send résumé and cover letter to Mari Johnson, Landowner Liaison, at Applications must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. (MST) on Friday, July 20th, 2018.  No phone calls, please.

Colorado Open Lands invites you to consider a career in conservation. Our staff is comprised of talented, passionate conservation professionals with a passion for helping landowners positively impact Colorado forever.

Colorado Open Lands Staff

For a list of job opportunities in the conservation field, please visit the Land Trust Alliance Careers Page or the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts Careers Page.

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