WildEarth Guardians

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WildEarth Guardians jobs – come work for us!

Current Job Openings


Rio Grande Campaigner

Salary Range: $47,000-$68,000

Location: Upper Rio Grande Basin (Colorado/New Mexico)

Deadline for Applications: October 31, 2020

Are you a Guardian for Living Rivers?

WildEarth Guardians seeks a full-time Rio Grande Campaigner in our Wild Rivers Program to play a leading role in our efforts in Colorado and New Mexico to protect and restore a living Rio Grande. The Campaigner is a policy advocate and organizer who will build a movement that pushes federal and state agencies to rethink management of the Rio Grande and ensure climate resilience for both people and the environment. The Campaigner will work primarily in the Rio Grande basin in Colorado and New Mexico.


WildEarth Guardians (Guardians) is a west-wide nonprofit environmental advocacy organization headquartered in Santa Fe, NM with offices in Denver, CO, Missoula, MT, Boise, ID, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and Tucson, AZ. With a 30-year history of bold environmental action, we wage innovative legal, political, and grassroots campaigns to protect and restore wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and community health in the American West.

The Wild Rivers Program advocates for living rivers across the American West. With a focus on the Rio Grande, Colorado and Willamette River basins as key geographies, we work to safeguard clean water, revive dynamic flows, reform western water policy, protect imperiled fish, wildlife and plants, and restore healthy and sustainable aquatic and riparian ecosystems to support all life.


The Rio Grande Campaigner works closely with the Wild Rivers Program Director to rethink the water management and policy of the past and move toward a new future of Living Rivers. The Campaigner’s work is centered on the Living Rio Campaign with the goal of protecting and restoring dynamic flows in the iconic Rio Grande from source to sea and ensuring the river has a right to its own water. The Campaigner will implement legal and policy tactics to restore flows to the river, including strategies set forth in Guardians’ report Rio Grande: Rethinking Rivers in the 21st Century. A key responsibility of the Campaigner is to develop allies, build grassroots support, engage with Pueblos and other communities and mobilize voices for a Living Rio. The position is supervised by the Wild Rivers Program Director.

Principal Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the Wild Rivers Program Director to prioritize, develop, and refine strategies to achieve the goals and vision of the Living Rio Campaign.
  • In an effort to reform existing water law, management, and policy in the Rio Grande basin, coordinate and organize support for living rivers policies. Activities include providing testimony, creating education and outreach materials, and supporting interaction with Tribal leadership, members of the New Mexico legislature and administration, and members of Congress.
  • Form strategic relationships with new allies and expand recruitment and engagement of existing supporters regionally and nationally on Rio Grande and western water policy issues to increase our mutual power.
  • Build and maintain relationships with Rio Grande basin stakeholders working together to achieve our goals. This includes playing a leadership role in coalitions through regular (in-person), phone, and electronic communication.
  • Communicate our work to the public and the media—using visual, written and oral presentation skills—ensuring that messages around living rivers become the dominant frame for water management discussions.

Knowledge and Skills:

  • Passion for protecting and restoring rivers of the American West.
  • Strong relational skills (including ability to connect with and build coalitions with diverse stakeholders) and knowledge and understanding of communities and cultures in the Rio Grande basin.
  • Creative, self-starter with proven ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  • Commitment to community organizing and ability to work constructively with grassroots partners, including commitment to social change through building the capacity and power of Black, Indigenous, people of color and low-income people to change their communities and to participate directly in changing public policies.
  • Strong moral compass and ability to stand against the tide.
  • Strong organizational skills and an ability to succeed in a fast-paced environment with a full workload where it is necessary to balance multiple tasks and deadlines.
  • Integrity, kindness, sense of humor, and a healthy sense of outrage.

Additional preferred skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Three or more years of campaigning or grassroots organizing experience with demonstrated results.
  • Education and/or experience working with and empowering communities in the Rio Grande Basin or other similar communities in the Southwest.
  • Knowledge of and experience with regional, state and basin-wide environmental policy and politics (water and river policy a bonus).
  • Strong written and verbal communication, with mastery of social media platforms.
  • Bilingual (Spanish and/or Native Languages)

Compensation and Benefits:

WildEarth Guardians offers a friendly and flexible, team-based environment with an excellent benefits package. You have flexibility to select benefits based on your personal preferences, your family situation, and/or your financial objectives. Benefits include full health, vision, dental, life, and disability coverage, a 403(b) retirement plan with a 3% match, paid and un-paid health and family leave, a sabbatical policy, sick leave, three weeks paid vacation to start, and ten holidays including your birthday. Salary is negotiable based on experience.


Please apply for the Rio Grande Campaigner position by providing a cover letter, resume, and three references through the web portal. Cover letters should communicate the applicant’s heartfelt commitment to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Applicants are encouraged to tell us who they are as human beings, why they care about this work, and why they are interested in this position.

Please submit applications by October 31, 2020.

No telephone calls, please. Only candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.

WildEarth Guardians is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, family/marital status, religion or other protected classes. We encourage applications from persons of color, women and LGBTQ+ candidates.


2021 Spring Intern and Extern Opportunities

WildEarth Guardians is a regional environmental advocacy organization with over 188,000 members and online supporters dedicated to protecting and restoring the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. WildEarth Guardians is now recruiting students for spring 2021 to assist with program work, case development and litigation to protect endangered species, restore riparian landscapes, and reform western water policy. Externship opportunities are available with our Denver, CO, Santa Fe, NM, or Portland, OR offices (work is remote at this time).

Why spend a semester with WildEarth Guardians? Guardians develops and executes cutting edge litigation that serves as a lever for securing stronger protections for wildlife, wild places, waterways, and the health of the American West. Our recent wins include:

  • Guardians successfully secured 815 million gallons of water (2,500 acre-feet) per year to support Rio Grande peak and perennial flows through central New Mexico in 2019. Thiswin was born of conflict when Guardians challenged a half-dozen attempts by the City of Rio Rancho to transfer water from farms to meet municipal uses without considering impacts to the river and its imperiled fish, wildlife and plants. The legal settlement also resulted in Guardians joining forces with pueblos, the local irrigation district, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to work on river restoration projects and to collectively help reform state water policy in New Mexico.
  • Guardians successfully halted logging on 12 million acres of threatened Mexican spotted owl habitat after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service failed to ensure Mexican spotted owl recovery for more than 20 years. This win includes land across six national forests in New Mexico and Arizona.
  • In response to Guardians’ lawsuit, a federal judge ruled that the Bureau of Land Management did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing and rejected the sale of 300,000 acres of public lands in Wyoming for fracking. The ruling is a major blow to the Trump administration’s anti-environment, anti-climate agenda, and has implications for public lands across the American West.
  • Check out more of our cases here.

WildEarth Guardians is looking for self-motivated applicants with excellent research and writing skills and a demonstrated commitment to, or interest in, public interest environmental advocacy.

The following programs and offices are currently accepting intern applications for the spring of 2021:

  • Wild Rivers Program, remote and/or Denver, Colorado (1 position) – The Denver position will have the opportunity to work in the Wild Rivers program under its director and attorney Jen Pelz. The rivers program work will focus on protecting and restoring flows in western rivers (focusing on the Colorado River, Rio Grande and Willamette River) and reforming western water policy through strategic litigation. Substantive work may include case development, legal research, and strategic legal advocacy under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and other relevant state water and land use laws and regulations.
  • Legal Program, remote (multiple positions) – This is an opportunity to work with Guardians’ Legal Team under the supervision of our Portland, Oregon Staff Attorneys, Marla Fox and Jennifer Schwartz or our Santa Fe, New Mexico Managing Attorney Samantha Ruscavage-Barz and Staff Attorney Daniel Timmons. Substantive work includes factual record review, legal research and analysis, and developing and researching legal claims under the National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, and more.

*Legal Externs: Under attorney supervision, legal externs will assist with various aspects of advocacy, case development, and litigation. Primary responsibilities include conducting legal and factual research, crafting key messaging, and developing case strategy and legal theories. Students who have completed their second year of law school are strongly preferred, but students who have completed one year of law school will also be considered. Foundational coursework or applied experience in environmental, federal public lands, and administrative law is a plus. Internships and externships hours are flexible depending on circumstances. We are willing to coordinate with the applicant’s law school to ensure credit for externships.

To apply, please submit the following in a single PDF file to jpelz@wildearthguardians.org: cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, one recent writing sample (preferably a legal brief or memorandum of no more than ten pages that primarily reflects your work), and three references. The subject line of the email should indicate “Legal Program” or “Wild Rivers Program” and your cover letter should indicate your preferred office location(s) and interest area.  Interested students may apply to multiple offices with one application.