Program Overview

Creating connections across organizational and cultural barriers.
Fellows leave the NCLI experience with an increased appreciation for the opportunities that come with diversity and inclusion.

Designed to be a world-class comprehensive learning experience, the NCLI serves diverse natural resource related organizations throughout North America, including Federal Agencies, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Tribal and Natural Resource-related Industry Organizations. Fellows must be nominated by their organizations Director, CEO, or Tribal Leadership. Organizations can nominate up to 3 individuals for consideration each year. 


Please note: The NCLI Board decided to pilot a format change for Cohort 18 (2024-25) in hopes to accommodate a wider and more diverse pool of applicants.

The National Conservation Leadership Institute was designed with four major phases:

Prework. Fellows get an initial introduction to adaptive leadership concepts through reading of Institute selected material and identify an adaptive leadership challenge relevant to their work and agency/organization.

6-day first residency in the fall at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s prestigious National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The curriculum encompasses a focus on personal leadership and expands to leadership relevant to teams, organizations, and the conservation community. Learning is optimized by anchoring the curriculum to the principles of Adaptive Leadership™. World class faculty provide the course “connective tissue” linking exercises, case examples, and learning into a cohesive picture for conservation leadership. A highly interactive mix of learning deliveries provides a strong knowledge and experiential base. Content is enriched through lively discussion, debate of conservation specific case examples, and challenging critical thinking skills.

Individual, organization-related adaptive leadership challenges. Between residencies each Fellow will apply what they have learned to their adaptive leadership challenge. Each participant will be part of a small group that functions as peer consultants by providing input to other team members on their projects.

3-day virtual second residency the following winter. Fellows increase their leadership capacity through continued learning and discussion. 

5-day third residency the following spring at the National Conservation Training Center. Fellows reconvene to reflect on their leadership growth and development. Final learning and discoveries are shared and lifelong key relationships are cemented. 


Additional Information:



Get Prepared

Learn more about the timeline for the NCLI application process and residencies.

How to Apply

Online application packages are accepted between February 1 and April 15.

“Fellows in NCLI describe their experience as life-changing and I have to agree. Many say it's even hard to describe their experiences to their colleagues. I don't want to give away too much but do know the knowledge and experiences you will gain can make you not only a better employee but a better person. And unlike ALDP or other Service leadership programs, in NCLI you will work with people from tribes, state conservation agencies (including ADF&G), NGOs, NPS and BLM.”