SWCS Emerging Leaders Program: Grow your career, grow the conservation movement.

The Soil and Water Conservation Society Emerging Leaders Program is an immersive, interdisciplinary leadership experience designed to nurture the next generation of conservation leaders. This initiative blends learning modules, mentorship, and hands-on projects to foster resilient professionals. Through experiential learning and skill development, participants will gain the expertise, networks, and passion needed to drive positive change in their communities. 

Apply Today!

Applications Due: August 15, 2024

Program Description:

Participants will attend quarterly interactive learning modules to receive training and resources from SWCS staff and partners. They will fine-tune and expand their skills and networks to further advance conservation and their career.

Through the year, participants will gain professional skills like communication, time management, event planning, public speaking, and creating community. They will network with and receive guidance from peers and leaders across disciplines to develop their leadership style and build confidence in their roles.

A full outline of the program is included in the program overview.

Prospect Park Clean Up Event hosted by James Boatright
Prospect Park Clean Up Event hosted by James Boatright

2024 Georgia Forests and Water Forum hosted by LeAnn Rutledge
2024 Georgia Forests and Water Forum hosted by LeAnn Rutledge

Freshwater Farms Reserve Stewardship Work Day hosted by Cailynne Graham
Freshwater Farms Reserve Stewardship Work Day hosted by Cailynne Graham


Program Benefits:
  • One year of complimentary SWCS membership and access to all membership benefits, including:
    • A Subscription to the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
    • Access to a network of mentors and a local chapter
    • SWCS tools like the Conservation Media Library, our membership directory, webinars, Conservation NewsBriefs, an event-planning toolkit, and more!
    • Discounts on SWCS publications, Journal page charges, and SWCS Career Center job postings
    • SWCS monthly member newsletter, the Conservogram
  • Complimentary registration to the 80th SWCS International Annual Conference
    • Exclusive sessions for program participants
    • Recognition and networking opportunities
  • Conservation Events Planning Certificate (for those who host conservation activities)
    • Access to an event planning toolkit
  • Recognition through SWCS media platforms
  • Listing the member directory, promotion through news releases, social media posts, and more!

The program is for professionals in the first 5 years of their career in the conservation field, post-graduation. Participants are new to their roles in a wide variety of disciplines and sectors, including:

  • Federal Government
  • Conservation Districts
  • Non-Profit/Foundations
  • State Government
  • University/Extension
  • Industry/Private Sector
  • … and more! 

This program is hosted primarily online and can be completed from anywhere. There are opportunities for participants to host a local, in-person conservation event or activity, and there may be additional in-person opportunities in your area. If multiple participants are located in the same area, they may team up to host an activity. Invite your colleagues to apply!


The program kicks off in September 2024 and runs through August 2025. Learn more about the estimated time commitment.

2025 Emerging Leaders Program Flyer

"The biggest value I got out of this program was the huge increase in my confidence when it comes to pulling together friends, family, and colleagues to take care of the environment. The capacity building aspect of this program has been invaluable to me, as now I know that I can pull together and direct various groups of people who want to make a positive difference. Bringing more people together means that I can implement greater change!"

- James Boatright, 2024 ELP Participant

There is no cost for participants to take part in the Emerging Leaders Program. At this time, travel and lodging at the 80th SWCS International Annual Conference would be the financial responsibility of the participant or their employer. However, this portion of the schedule is optional and not necessary to complete the program.

Know someone who might be interested in the program? Reach out! Check out the ELP Outreach Tips to get started, and contact renee.bouldin@swcs.org for additional outreach materials.

The SWCS Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by support from our members and partners. Help us support emerging leaders through a gift or company sponsorship. Contact renee.bouldin@swcs.org with any questions or to support the program.