The next generation of
conservation leadership

Join a diverse, committed, and exciting group of students from around the country on an 8-week journey from the urban jungle to the old growth forest and back. Explore why conservation can make a difference, and how you can make a difference in conservation.

  • Explore conservation across urban, managed, and protected environments
  • Connect conservation to cultural heritage and environmental justice
  • Understand conservation in the context of food, water, biodiversity and climate
  • Become the next generation of conservation leadership

Program schedule

The Year 1 experience, Classroom in the Field, starts on June 22nd, 2015. Doris Duke Conservation Scholars will have all travel, insurance, food and lodging paid during their 8-week summer experience, and will receive a weekly stipend of $500. Year 1 Scholars may be invited to join a Conservation Practice Team, or receive a prestigious Conservation Internship in subsequent summers.

Year One Classroom in the Field

Year One · Weeks 1-3 Urban Explorations The Wild Beside Us

Three weeks in greater Seattle exploring the urban jungle through four fundamental themes that will echo throughout the summer experience:

Biodiversityurban green space and the urban-rural gradient: Discovering the diversity of life in Seattle’s green spaces, understanding the impacts of local landscaping decisions across an urban-rural gradient, examining fragmentation and connectivity, and discovering the impacts of domesticated and naturalized animals on wild urban biodiversity. This theme will explore the ways in which biodiversity enriches and supports human communities, and how changes in human behavior can support, or destroy, biological richness.

Foodurban farms and local food: Connecting with city community gardens and immigrant farmers, how food choice helps or hurts urban biodiversity, mapping the sources of food in city grocery stores, tracing compost from urban collection to application, learning about edible walls and green roofs at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture, and comparing production on regional organic and conventional farms. This theme explores the food-shed, and its implications for environmental justice and public health.

Waterwild to city to wild: Tracing the Seattle water supply from its source in the wild Cedar River watershed to the processing, storage, and distribution in the city, to the treatment and release of wastewater in the highly-polluted Duamish River, the site of traditional fishing for the Muckleshoot Tribal Nation. This theme will expose how biodiversity - native and introduced - affects and is affected by water supply along this unique urban watershed, and the intersection between water-related ecosystem services, public health, and environmental justice.

Climateadapting to rising seas, big rains, and lost snow: An introduction to the potential impacts of climate on Seattle and its environs, including our mountains and food-growing plains. This theme explores urban and rural adaptation and mitigation options, heat island impacts in rich versus poor neighborhoods, white roofs in a green city, creating wildlife corridors, and developing an understanding of the link between climate and life.

Year One · Week 4 Rivers of Life An Exploration of Water

© North Cascades Institute

Located in Forks, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula, scholars and mentors will spend one week at the Olympic Natural Resources Center – a living-learning base from which we will travel to Olympic National Park to visit the Hoh Rainforest, one of the last and largest remaining temperate rainforests in the United States with giant Sitka spruce, endangered spotted owls, and reintroduced fisher. Here we will explore the role of water in a pristine, old-growth watershed. At the Elwha River, a landmark restoration project involving removal of two dams to re-establish free-flowing Pacific salmon habitat, we will explore issues of water management and river restoration, the iconic and threatened Pacific salmon, and the people who have long depended on and stewarded these waters and lands – the Skokomish, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah.

Year One · Week 5 Shifting Baselines An Exploration of Climate Change

© North Cascades Institute

Built adjacent to Diablo Dam, the North Cascades Institute is tucked into the largest remaining intact wildland in the contiguous United States – the Greater North Cascades Ecosystem, including North Cascades National Park, the Stephen Mather Wilderness, and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Here students will spend a week exposed to the reality of climate change in the wild. Our explorations will take us to alpine meadows where tree line is shifting, glaciers are retreating, and spring is coming earlier. We will explore issues of connectivity, resilience, changing forest composition, and insect outbreaks and fire.

Year One · Week 6 Islands of Habitat Ecosystem Exploration

© UW Botanic Gardens

The Moses Coulee Field Station, owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy, provides DDCSP@UW with our 4th field week. Sitting in an oasis of sagebrush steppe embedded in a sea of wheat fields, Moses Coulee is home to sage grouse, black-tailed jackrabbits, Washington ground squirrels, western rattlesnakes and some of the last remaining habitat for pygmy rabbits in Washington. Here we will explore issues of habitat fragmentation, fire dynamics, and water withdrawals as well as solutions that include reintroductions, connectivity planning, and restoration. Community connections will include both Native Americans (Yakama Nation) and migrant farm workers.

Year One · Week 7 Dynamic Forests An Exploration of Biodiversity

© Greg Ettl

Just 68 miles from the UW campus, DDSCP@UW will spend one week at the Pack Forest Experimental Station – 4,250 acres from new plantations to mature forest. The station is less than 30 minutes away from Mt. Rainier National Park – 235,000 acres of wilderness including the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, old growth forests to alpine meadows, and over 1,000 species of flora and fauna. Here we will explore old-growth and working forest ecosystems, documenting patterns and exploring explanations for abundance and diversity. At Mt. St. Helens National Park, only an hour south, we will explore disturbance, succession, and resilience at an active volcano site.

Year One · Week 8 Final Week Synthesis

In the final week we will return to Seattle to synthesize insights and experiences across the wild-urban continuum, present work to friends and family, and create individualized career plans for the next step in conservation leadership.

Year One What Else?

© North Cascades Institute

Conservation Conversations: Thinking something didn’t work or doesn’t make sense? Have an insight to share with the group? Feel the need to give a shout out to someone who really rocked the week? Conservation Conversations is our weekly talking circle to bring it up, put it out there, and make it work.

Career Connections: What is a “conservation professional?” Can you really get a job saving the world? Actually, you can. In Career Connections we’ll network with amazing, creative people – scientists, managers, writers, artists, politicians and activists - who make their living making a difference.

Career Skills: Want a career in conservation? Sometimes getting in is about fitting in. Sometimes getting in is about standing out. Most times getting in is about knowing your stuff and practicing. Career Skills is our safe space to try out your writing, speaking and networking skills.

Science Communication: Blog it, tweet it, sing it, spin it, write it, say it, draw it, film it. To make yourself heard, you need to know your stuff, know your audience, and make a compelling story that resonates. Science Communication workshops let you practice the skills and find your voice in conservation.

Year Two Conservation Practice Team

Year Two Conservation Practice Team

© Julian Olden

Return as a Year 2 Scholar and participate in two Conservation Practice Teams, each focused on the intersection of individuals, communities, and the environment. Effective conservation strategies are inclusive, involving a diversity of stakeholders and voices, and incorporating multiple ways of knowing and myriad values. And all conservation strategies must consider the concepts of sustainability and environmental justice. Can the resource renew itself? Who gets access to it?

Team membership includes three student scholars, one faculty member, and one conservation practitioner from an agency, NGO, or community organization. Want direct experience working on an issue brought to the table by The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, or the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife? For just over three weeks your team will work side-by-side to meet the stakeholders, scope the problem, decide on an approach, gather information, and test out your ideas. Can the actions of a small number of people make a difference? Find out.

During the final week, all teams will come together at the University of Washington Seattle campus to share their findings at a public presentation to stakeholders, mentors, family, and friends. Remember what it was like in your first year? Pay it back. Second year students will also mentor first year scholars in their own presentations.

Year Two Urban Teams

Cities and suburbs house more than three quarters of the U.S. population. Although they may not know it, every one of those urbanites depends on the services the natural world provides, and every action or decision can affect the world around us. Can wildlife exist in the city? Should it? Is a park a place to preserve species or create beautifully manicured lawns preserved with herbicides and fertilizer? What is the responsibility, or even the possibility, of the urbanite to produce food locally and ease the pressure on open spaces?

Urban Conservation Practice Teams will tackle issues that expose the interactions – good and bad – between city dwellers and their environment. Teams might work on:

  • planning adaptation measures for green spaces in Seattle as climate change alters water resources for wildlife and city dwellers.
  • discovering heirloom seeds brought to urban gardens by first generation immigrants – preservation of biodiversity and culture, or introduction of invaders?
  • camera-trapping in the city – catching the night wild, the feral, and the naturalized.

Year Two Xurban Teams

The reach of humanity is global, stretching even to those places we set aside as wilderness areas. How are communities and individuals connected to the open spaces and far-off places they may only see on television? Who manages and who uses these environments? How are conflicts resolved? Are remote, rural communities in charge? Should they be? Do non-humans - wildlife, trees, fish – have existence rights other than their use to humans?

  • camera-trapping wildlife use of habitat corridors through rural communities connecting national parks to national forests.
  • assessing native pollinator diversity in Columbia Plateau agro-ecosystems with migrant farming communities.
  • measuring glacial retreat in the North Cascades as one measure of the coming fish versus farming conflict.

Year Two What Else?

Conservation Conversations: Thinking something didn’t work or doesn’t make sense? Have an insight to share with the group? Feel the need to give a shout out to someone who really rocked the week? Conservation Conversations is our weekly talking circle to bring it up, put it out there, and make it work.

Career Connections: What is a “conservation professional?” Can you really get a job saving the world? Actually, you can. In Career Connections we’ll network with amazing, creative people – scientists, managers, writers, artists, politicians and activists - who make their living making a difference.

Career Skills: Want a career in conservation? Sometimes getting in is about fitting in. Sometimes getting in is about standing out. Most times getting in is about knowing your stuff and practicing. Career Skills is our safe space to try out your writing, speaking and networking skills.

Science Communication: Blog it, tweet it, sing it, spin it, write it, say it, draw it, film it. To make yourself heard, you need to know your stuff, know your audience, and make a compelling story that resonates. Science Communication workshops let you practice the skills and find your voice in conservation.

Year Three Conservation Internship

Year Three Conservation Internships

A unique chance to become the solution, 3rd Year Scholars will be embedded in conservation organizations or resource management agencies working on the front lines of conservation.

With skills honed over two summers at DDCSP, and a knowledge base enriched by academic coursework, Scholar Interns will use their experience to test out what change-making is all about. Want to know what a job in conservation could be like? Become a third year Conservation Intern.

Imagine your summer job was:

  • working with the Alaska Wilderness League to augment its environmental justice campaign linking native issues, values, and ways of knowing to conservation efforts and outcomes
  • blogging on climate impacts for Resource Media
  • radio-collaring wolves straying outside of protected boundaries with the National Park Service
  • assessing the impacts of non-timber harvest to forest ecosystems in the National Forest and the benefits – and costs - to local communities

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility and Requirements

Can Juniors and Seniors apply to the program?
This program is intended for students early in their academic careers, so we can only accept students who are currently freshmen or sophomores.
Will Dreamers or DACA students be considered
Yes, Dreamers and DACA students are encouraged to apply. Proof of citizenship is not required.
Will community college students be considered?
Unfortunately, the program is only able to accept students from accredited four-year colleges and universities.
Can international students apply to the program?
Unfortunately, international students (ie, those in the U.S. on an academic visa) are not eligible for the program. Permanent residents will be considered and dreamers are encouraged to apply.
Can graduate students apply to the program?
Unfortunately, the program is only able to accept undergraduate students.
I’m not a person of color. Can I still apply?
Yes! We hope to draw a truly diverse group of students to this program, meaning everyone is welcome to apply. All applicants, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, or other demographic differences need to demonstrate awareness of diversity issues, and a commitment to inclusion, and make sure this comes through on your application.
Do you need to have field (outdoor) experience or be an environmental science major to be accepted?
No, this program is open to all majors (including “undecided”). In fact, we’re specifically looking for a broad mix of students, from ecology to film studies. You also don’t need to have field, or outdoor (camping and backpacking) experience. You do need to be excited about heading into the outdoors, as we’ll be spending some time in some out-of-the-way places.
Is there a minimum GPA required to participate in DDCSP@UW?
No, there is no minimum GPA to be considered for the program. However, we are looking for students who are motivated to dive into research and issues in conservation; and who are capable of keeping in contact during the academic year, and progressing towards graduation. Students must be in good academic standing (ie, not on academic probation or in danger of being expelled) to participate.

Application Process

Is there going to be an interview process?
Depending on the number of strong applications and the timeline of our selection process, we may elect to do phone or Skype interviews.
When should I expect to hear if I’ve been accepted?
We will start notifying applicants in mid-March and plan to have our cohort confirmed by early April. Applicants will be notified if they have been accepted or if we aren’t able to offer them a spot this year.
Is there a benefit to submitting my application early?
Applications are not reviewed until after the deadline. Submitting your application early won’t affect your how your application is reviewed. However, it is unlikely materials received after the deadline will be reviewed, so submitting everything in a timely manner is critical.
How do my references send submit their recommendation letters?
Once you submit your references names and contact information into the application website, we will email them with directions of how to login to the website and submit their letters.
If I am not accepted into the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program, can I reapply for the summer of 2016?
Yes, as long as you’ll be a sophomore next year, you are absolutely welcome to apply again.
Should I wait until I get my autumn quarter/semester transcripts to submit my application?
Yes, please wait until your autumn quarter/semester grades appear on your transcript before submitting it. We don’t need an official transcript, so as soon as your final grades are in for the semester, your school should be able to provide you with an unofficial transcript.
Who do I contact if I am experiencing difficulties with the application?
If you have trouble with any of part of the application, you can email ddcsp@uw.edu.

General Program Questions

How many scholars do you take for the first year experience?
We have space for approximately 25 scholars.
How many students applied last year?
​We received over 380 completed applications last year and accepted 26 students.

General Program Questions, continued

Am I required to commit to multiple summers?
We strongly encourage you take advantage of the multi summer opportunities. You will get more out of the program if you do the full 3 years, but it's not an absolute requirement.
Is the program ongoing?
Year 1 students may be invited to join a Conservation Practice Team for a second summer, or receive a prestigious Conservation Internship in their third summer. We’ll also be starting another cohort of first year scholars in 2015.
What do I need to bring with me? I don’t have any camping or hiking gear.
We’ll outfit everyone in the first week of the program. If you do have personal outdoor gear (for instance, hiking shoes, rain gear, a backpack, binoculars) that you are comfortable with, bring it along.
Who can I talk to for more information?
You may contact us at ddcsp@uw.edu.
Are there other DDCSP programs?
Yes! Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Programs are currently in place through Northern Arizona University and the University of Florida.
I understand that the program pays a stipend, but what are the costs that the students are directly responsible for?
Doris Duke Conservation Scholars will have all travel, food and lodging paid during their 8-week summer experience, and will receive a weekly stipend of $500. Students will be responsible for luggage fees at the airport as well as their own incidentals including toiletries, snacks, souvenirs, and other personal purchases.

Community Partners, Faculty, Staff, and References

How do I advertise this program to my students?
We recommend you send any students who might be interested in and a good fit for the program to our website. You can also email us at ddcsp@uw.edu to receive an electronic version or printed copies of our flyer. Also, consider offering to serve as a reference for your students who wish to apply.
What do you look for from a strong application?
Because the program is geared for students early in their college careers, we are only able to take freshmen and sophomores.
Scholars don’t have to be environmental science, or even science, majors, but should demonstrate a commitment to the environment and to diversity, and be curious, creative and enthusiastic – incipient change-makers. They should demonstrate in their essay responses a willingness and ability to discuss and investigate issues in conservation with people whose identities, opinions, and values differ from their own.
I don’t teach environmental science or ecology. Should I still advertise this program to my students?
Yes! Scholars don’t have to be environmental science or ecology majors, but they should have an interest and demonstrated commitment to the environment. Program alumni have included history, economics, urban studies, engineering, business and ‘undeclared’ majors.
Could my students earn credit for this program?
The University of Washington does not offer credit, but students are encouraged to work with their faculty or advisors at their home institution to determine if they could earn credit for participating in DDCSP@UW.
Are there ways for faculty to get involved in DDCSP@UW?
Yes, there are a few ways to get involved with DDCSP, including writing recommendation letters for your students who wish to apply, reviewing applications, applying to be a co-instructor, and referring a graduate student to be a DDCSP Teaching Assistant. You may also be able to serve as a mentor for our Year 2 Practice Solution Teams. Please contact us at ddcsp@uw.edu for more information.
I’m with a NGO, government agency or other conservation-oriented organization. Are there ways for me to get involved?
Yes! You can review applications and may be able to serve as a mentor for our Year 2 Conservation Practice Teams or host a Year 3 Conservation Intern. Please contact us at ddcsp@uw.edu for more information.
I’m serving as a reference for an applicant. What is the deadline for me to submit my letter of recommendation?
Letters must be received by the application deadline, 12:00PM Pacific Time on Thursday, January 29, 2015.
What should I include in my letter of recommendation?
Content of letters will vary based on the relationship between the writer and the applicant, but strong letters include specific examples of how the applicant is a good fit for the program (ex. a strong commitment to conservation and diversity) and how they would benefit from participating (ex. academic or professional development).
How do I submit my letter of recommendation?
We will email you directions of how to login and submit your letter. Letters can be uploaded as a file from your computer or can be written directly in the website platform.