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OSI Celebrates Five Years of its Conservation Fellowship by Adding Second Awardee

Photo Credit: Lake Champlain Land Trust

NEW YORK, NY (July 21, 2021)— Now in its fifth year, the Open Space Institute’s (OSI’s) Conservation Diversity Fellowship will be awarded, for the first time ever, to two recipients for the 2021-2022 program. The fellowship is a full-time, one-year, paid position in New York City that offers college graduate or postgraduate candidates from diverse backgrounds the chance to gain professional experience and accomplish meaningful goals in the field of conservation.

Working alongside OSI staff, the conservation fellows will spend a year exploring career topics in conservation such as expanding recreational access to public lands; administering grants for land protection; protecting land through conservation real estate transactions; developing science and research on conservation and climate; and learning non-profit administration and finance. At the end of their fellowship, candidates create a final project, delving into a singular aspect of conservation and creating a tangible community resource.

Support from the Merlin Foundation made the expansion of the fellowship possible.

The 2021 recipients of the OSI Conservation Diversity Fellowship are Sydney Williams (left) and Neeyati Johnson.
The 2021 recipients of the OSI Conservation Diversity Fellowship are Sydney Williams (left) and Neeyati Johnson.

“As the organization celebrates five years of mentorship and collaboration with some of the most talented, young conservationist, OSI is proud to expand the program this year and offer the fellowship to not one, but two, exceptional candidates,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “Our work at OSI benefits from the new ideas, high-energy, and fresh perspectives our fellows bring to our organization each year, and in turn, we feel privileged to help guide and support the award recipients as they continue to explore careers in conservation.” 

The 2021 recipients of the Conservation Diversity Fellowship are as follows:

Neeyati Johnson graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Keenly aware of the need for environmental education and conservation to be more inclusive and equitable, Neeyati will use a background in community-based activism to advance anti-racist practices in land conservation. This 2021-22 fellow is interested in working at OSI to learn about and support the organization’s research, fundraising, land acquisition, and advocacy work.

Sydney Williams is a recent graduate from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Development. Interested in intersectional environmentalism, Sydney will continue to explore how historical and contemporary systems have been used to exploit people and the environment, including the ways that vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected by climate change. This 2021-22 fellow is interested in working with OSI to help the organization advance grassroots conservation efforts through its Citizen Action program and contribute to research and policy work.

OSI established the year-long Conservation Diversity Fellowship in 2016 and the fellowship is aimed at discovering and mentoring exceptional, conservation-minded young professionals and helping them take the next step in their career. OSI’s multifaceted programs provide the Conservation Fellows wide-ranging experience in the field of conservation and, throughout the year, fellows have the chance to work on projects based on their education and desired career path.

Past projects completed by Conservation Fellows include a series of online zines about conservation, a literature review and survey about minority participation in outdoors recreation, creation of an interactive website and video promoting OSI’s McHenry Awards, and a literature review and survey about policies and procedures to make our grantmaking more equitable. Several of the past fellows have continued working in a conservation field, securing full time positions as: an event organizer for local parks, a research associate for improving biodiversity through land use planning, or continuing their education by studying owl conservation in the Sierra Mountains.

To learn more about OSI’s Conservation Diversity Fellowship, visit: https://www.openspaceinstitute.org/funds/diversity_fellowship

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