This program is flexible and will be adapted to meet the interests of our participants and address their regional conservation needs. 

January 2024 Program Update

View the 2023 – 2024 Class of Emerging Leaders

Event Planning:

Do you have an event idea you need help executing? Would you like to serve as a mentor for these participants? Indicate your interest in helping these participants.

View the events calendar to see upcoming program events in your area.

Program Description:

Participants will attend quarterly interactive learning modules to receive training and resources from SWCS staff and partners (see the program overview for details). They will fine-tune and expand their skills and networks to further advance conservation and their career.

The highlight of the program is the Conservation Events Planning Workshop, where participants will earn a certificate, receive an events toolkit, and learn how to host an in-person event.  They will then apply their learning to host a conservation event locally.

Through the year, participants will gain professional skills like virtual communications, basic graphic design, event planning, resume building, 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.


The program is for professionals in the first 5 years of their career in the conservation field. 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
  • … and more! 

The program is completed primarily online. Participants will host a local, in-person conservation event, and there may be additional in-person opportunities in your area. Applicants located in the same area may be teamed up to plan their event.


The program kicks off in September of 2023 with quarterly modules that range from 3-4 hours with SWCS staff and partners. Leaders commit approximately 1-2 days per quarter to developing their professional skills and planning their conservation events. The program culminates at the 79th SWCS International Annual Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (July 21 – 24, 2024), after which there will be a final wrap-up module.

Program Benefits:
  • One year of complimentary SWCS membership and access to all membership benefits
  • Complimentary registration to the 79th SWCS International Annual Conference
  • Free item of SWCS branded gear
  • Conservation Events Planning Certificate
  • Formal recognition in SWCS’s annual report
  • Recognition at the 79th SWCS International Annual Conference
  • Listing in SWCS’s online member directory

There is no cost for participants to take part in the Emerging Leaders Program. At this time, travel and lodging at the 79th 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.

2023-2024 program release waiver.

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 with any questions or to support the program.