Press Release

Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program sends 2022 fellowship recipient to Cleveland, Ohio

Washington (September 13, 2022) — The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, and Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the largest land trust in Ohio and one of the largest in the nation, today announced the placement of our latest Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program Fellow.

The Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program (SCLP) is a career and leadership development program launched by the Land Trust Alliance and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Cooperative Forestry. The program aims to expand opportunities for students to pursue careers in natural resource management and conservation, with an emphasis on reaching students of underrepresented and minority backgrounds in these sectors.

The 2022 program brings together eight undergraduate college students from across the country for a professional development experience in conjunction with Rally 2022: The National Land Conservation Conference, being held September 15-17 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The students will attend the conference where they will have the opportunity to participate in numerous educational trainings and workshops, participate in a one-day seminar and connect with professionals from across the nation. Additionally, each scholar will be partnered with a mentor during the conference. One scholar will then be selected to participate in a paid, year-long fellowship with a land trust to gain on-the-job experience in 2023, following graduation.

This year’s Fellow, Nina Jeffries, graduated with a degree in environmental science and policy from the University of Maryland with a concentration in environmental economics. She also minored in Arabic studies. Nina’s passion for conservation extends well beyond the classroom, however. She has completed internships with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Environmental Law Institute, Our Children’s Trust, and an intern for the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. She has also volunteered her time as the sustainability director for the University of Maryland Student Government Association, and as chapter secretary for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences.

Nina began her paid, yearlong fellowship at Western Reserve Land Conservancy on July 6.

“Northern Ohio is home to beautiful natural landscapes, working family farms, and vital urban greenspaces,” Nina Jeffries said. “I am excited to bring my experience and passion to an organization that is committed to protecting and strengthening these lands. Working with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and their Thriving Communities team, I know I will learn a lot about justice-centered approaches to conservation that will serve me in my career for years to come. This is a great opportunity, and I am so honored to have been selected for this position.”

The Alliance’s Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program provides career leadership development opportunities for college students of underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds who are interested in a career in conservation and natural resource management. Nine students were chosen for the 2021 program, with Nina Jefferies selected to receive a year-long paid fellowship with a land trust in 2022 following Rally 2021: The National Land Conservation Conference.

“The scholars program invests in the next generation of conservation leaders in a way that benefits the participating students as well as communities that historically have been underrepresented within the conservation community,” said Andrew Bowman, president and CEO of Land Trust Alliance. “We’re proud of our entire class of 2021 scholars and are particularly eager to watch as Nina Jeffries continues her conservation journey at Western Reserve Land Conservancy. She’ll gain valuable experience with an outstanding land trust and begin to build a network of colleagues that will provide support as she pursues a career in conservation.”

“The Scholars program is an important opportunity for the Forest Service to support young leaders and invest in underserved communities,” said Jaelith Hall-Rivera, Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry of the USDA Forest Service. “By recruiting diverse talent and welcoming new voices and perspectives, we can better serve all Americans and meet the challenges and opportunities facing the Nation’s forests. “

“We are honored to partner with LTA and USDA on this incredibly important program that will transform the environmental conservation community in the coming years,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “For far too long our community has been predominantly white and affluent, and we have unwittingly excluded entire segments of the population from our work. By deeply engaging with young adults from underrepresented backgrounds and communities, we provide professional opportunities to a new segment of the population and become far more relevant and effective as organizations and as a community of organizations devoted to improving and preserving environmental conditions for all people. I am very grateful that we have been blessed with a young woman as talented and passionate as Nina for the next year; it is such a privilege to be part of developing future leaders!”

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents approximately 950 member land trusts supported by more than 250,000 volunteers and 6.3 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at

About Western Reserve Land Conservancy

The nationally accredited Western Reserve Land Conservancy — the largest local land trust in Ohio—provides the people of northern and eastern Ohio with essential natural assets through land conservation and restoration. The Land Conservancy has preserved natural areas and working farms in 28 counties across Ohio. Its urban program, Thriving Communities, works statewide to clean and green urban centers devastated by the foreclosure crisis. To date, the Land Conservancy has permanently preserved over 800 properties totaling approximately 70,000 acres; helped create more than 190 public parks and preserves; led the efforts to create 50 county land banks across Ohio; as well as planted and distributed more than 14,000 robust trees in Cleveland. For more information, please visit

About the USDA Forest Service

The mission of the USDA Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests, grasslands and watersheds to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations.  The Cooperative Forestry unit of the USDA Forest Service works closely with partners to enhance and maintain forests across watersheds and ecosystems, both on private and public land, and delivers its work through states, local governments, other federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and other partners leveraging additional resources and fueling innovation.