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SPECIAL Fish and Wildlife Directorate Fellows Program (DFP)

December 02, 2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous
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Directorate Fellows Program (DFP)

The application period for the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) 2021 Directorate Fellows Program (DFP) announcement is now open! Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. The application period may close before the January 15, 2021 deadline if a sufficient number of eligible applications are received. Applicants are highly encouraged to apply early to ensure consideration.

What is the Directorate Fellows Program (DFP)?

DFP is a Direct Hire Authority program that includes an 11-week fellowship project for current students at the rising senior undergraduate or graduate school level.  The 11-week fellowships begin in mid-May or mid-June 2021 and end in August/September 2021.  Upon successful completion of the Fellowship program, including degree conferral, participants may be directly appointed without competition to full time, permanent positions.  Most projects are a good fit for students with majors in biological sciences and natural resources. There are a limited number of projects that could be a good fit for other degree majors.

DFP teaching studentsBenefits:

  • Living allowance– paid bi-weekly
  • Relocation allowance
  • Hands-on experience
  • Housing provided in select locations
  • 1-week orientation at the FWS National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, WV
  • Fellows may be eligible for a permanent position in the FWS after successfully completing their fellowship and degree


DFP Eligibility Requirements:

  • Student must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a rising senior or senior in undergraduate program or a graduate degree program, and will not complete their degree requirements prior to the completion of the 2021 DFP 11-week fellowship ending in August/September 2021
  • Cumulative GPA must be 3.0 or higher
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Demonstrated interest, education, and/or experience in conservation
  • Must be available for 12 weeks (1-week orientation plus 11-week fellowship)
  • Must be able to pass a criminal background check
  • DFP preparing for fish surveyMust be 17 years of age or older
  • Males born after December 31, 1959, and are at least 18 years of age, must register with the Selective Service System, unless they meet certain exemptions

DFP Spotlight

Assisting with Easement Compliance: Madison Fladeland

DFP Madison Fladeland in the fieldMy project involved creating a monitoring tool for law enforcement and managers to use out in the field, which enables them to digitally track non-compliant easements. This tool can be used on land or in the air, and you can map the violation out in the field and fill out all the necessary information and then sync the data. You can then access this information on your tablet, computer or phone. This allows officers to view the violations currently going on in the state and see if the case is open/closed in real time.

What I really enjoyed about being a DFP was having the chance to explore many of the different career paths available in the FWS.  Everyone in the Madison Wetland Management District made me feel welcome and allowed me to participate in activities outside my project that I had an interest in. 


How to Apply:

FWS is collaborating with the American Conservation Experience (ACE), the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF), and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) nonprofit organizations this year to assist with the recruitment and administration of over 117 Fellowship opportunities nationwide.  Each partner organization is administering a specific number of projects based on geographic location. Applying with multiple partners ensures you will have access to view and apply for all projects of interest to you when they are released.

There is a 2-step application process: 

Step 1.  Students shall apply to qualify for the program requirements via our partner sites below. At minimum, you must have at least a 3.0 GPA, be a current undergraduate rising senior, senior, or graduate student and complete your degree's graduation requirements after the 11-week fellowship (i.e. after September 22, 2021).  

  • CLICK HERE to apply for DFP and for future access to projects administered by American Conservation Experience (ACE)
  • CLICK HERE to apply for DFP and for future access to projects administered by Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF).  
  • CLICK HERE to apply for DFP and for future access to projects administered by Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). Applying with TMCF is only available to students who attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). 

NOTE:   Students are strongly encouraged to apply at both HAF and ACE; and TMCF (if attending an HBCU).  Applying with multiple partners will ensure you are be able to view all project opportunities when they become available.  

Step 2.   After a student qualifies for the Program with each partner, when the specific project descriptions are posted, eligible candidates will be notified to log back into their application and select the specific projects and locations for which they wish to be considered. Project descriptions will be posted by the end of December. 

TIP:  When projects are posted, students are encouraged to apply for as many projects in which they are interested.  We encourage a minimum of five (5) to improve your opportunity for consideration and selection for one of these highly competitive fellowships.

Students should contact the DFP point of contact listed at each partner's webpage to address questions about the DFP program and the application process. .

For general questions, contact

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