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Open Space Institute Announces 2022 Conservation Diversity Fellowship Award Winners

New York, NY (August 17, 2022)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced two young leaders have been selected for the 2022-23 Conservation Diversity Fellowship program. Now in its sixth year, the fellowship is a full-time, paid position that offers college or post-graduate candidates from diverse backgrounds the chance to gain professional experience and accomplish meaningful goals in the field of conservation.

The fellowship aims to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive conservation movement by supporting a pipeline of future environmental leaders. Beyond invaluable work experience, the program also provides fellows with ongoing professional opportunities, including mentorship, networking, and career placement support.

This year’s fellows are Anne Lee and Aisha Rodriguez. Working alongside OSI staff, Anne and Aisha will spend the year exploring career topics in conservation such as land acquisition, grant administration, accessibility and equity in the outdoors, science and research, and non-profit administration.

“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 our fellows develop the skills they need to be change-makers in their communities and the world,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “We look forward to mentoring and collaborating with talented, young conservationists, Anne and Aisha, over the next year.”

The 2022-2023 Conservation Fellows: Anne Lee (left) and Aisha Rodriguez (right).
The 2022-2023 Conservation Fellows: Anne Lee (left) and Aisha Rodriguez (right).
Image Credit: Sydney Williams

Anne Lee is a recent graduate from Duke University with a degree in Environmental Science and Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology. Passionate about science communication and conservation, Anne hopes to make outdoor, green spaces more available for all communities. The new OSI fellow is interested in learning about the organization’s conservation research, parks advocacy work, and development efforts.

Aisha Rodriguez is a recent graduate from Dickinson College with a degree in Environmental Science. Interested in environmental and social justice, Aisha wants to explore ways to make the outdoors more welcoming to the marginalized communities who are also disproportionately impacted by climate change. This new fellow is interested in working with OSI to examine ways to prioritize environmental and social justice in the field of land conservation.

At the end of the year-long program, fellows create a final project, delving into a singular aspect of conservation and creating a tangible community resource.

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 guide to make grant-making more equitable.

In 2021, the fellowship was expanded with support from the Merlin Foundation to fund two positions for the next three years. The 2022 awards mark the second year that the fellowship will be awarded to two recipients.

OSI established the year-long Conservation Diversity Fellowship in 2016 and the fellowship is aimed at discovering and mentoring exceptional, conservation-minded young professionals. 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.

Several of the past fellows have continued working in a conservation field, securing full-time positions such as: a park ranger for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, a Program Specialist at The Nature Conservancy, an event organizer for Partnership for Parks, and a research associate to improve biodiversity through land use planning. To learn more about OSI’s Conservation Diversity Fellowship, visit: https://www.openspaceinstitute.org/funds/diversity_fellowship.

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