Restoring Culturally Significant Plants for People and Pollinators Fellowship

Hiring Organization: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Employment type: Full-Time
Job Location: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
Application Due Date: August 2, 2024

USDA Forest Service Office/Lab and Location: A fellowship opportunity is available with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (FS) within the Northern Research Station (NRS) located in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The USDA Forest Service mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service manages a system of 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands in 44 States and Puerto Rico. These lands encompass 193 million acres, an area almost twice the size of California. They have some of the richest resources and most breathtaking scenery in the world, as well as drinking water for millions of Americans; these lands also help create or maintain hundreds of thousands of jobs. Impacts from climate change, extreme weather, and other disturbances—along with changing human demands—challenge our ability to ensure that ecosystems are healthy, resilient, and thus more adaptable to changing conditions.

To advance the mission, the USDA Forest Service: works in collaboration with communities and our partners; provides access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality; connects people to the land and one another; and delivers world-class science, technology and land management.

Research Project: The participant will contribute to a project that aims to co-produce knowledge with Tribal, community, and other partners to help restore grasslands, savannas, and related open canopy systems to Midwestern US landscapes. Project goals include reestablishing and maintaining relationships between Tribes and culturally significant plants, bees, and the entire ecosystem through knowledge-building and future restoration efforts that promote self-sustaining harvests. Activities anticipated for the fellow include: 

  • Coordinating logistics, project planning, and data management for the project 
  • Building relationships and co-development of workshops with Tribes  
  • Assisting with field research  
  • Assisting with developing presentations and reports 

The Participant will also have an opportunity to participate in other aspects of the project 

  • Contribute to a database of restoration plants for non-forest and open canopy systems, and their pollinator, edible, medicinal and cultural value.  
  • Participate in virtual and in-person collaborative meetings to evaluate whether and how restoration efforts on non-forest lands have benefited culturally important plants and supported pollinators. 

Learning Objectives:  

  • Learn how non-forested and open canopy restoration efforts can benefit culturally significant plants and pollinator communities.
  • Enhance data management and project coordination skills.
  • Enhance collaborative skills by participating as a member of a multidisciplinary team of research scientists, Tribal relations specialists, land managers, natural resource specialists from federal and state agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations. 
  • Enhance their communication skills through participating in workshops and creating presentations for local and national conferences.
  • Develop and enhance cultural competence by learning about Indigenous Knowledge related to plant and pollinator communities and valuing the diversity of knowledge systems related to differences in restoration efforts and goals.

Mentor: The lead mentors for this opportunity are Dr. Susannah Lerman (, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station located at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Dr. Kelly Kindscher (, Senior Scientist/Professor at Kansas Biological Survey/Environmental Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, and Jennifer Ballinger (, Tribal Relations Specialist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station in St. Paul, MN. Additional mentorship will be provided by other team members. If you have questions about the nature of the research, please contact the mentor(s). 

Anticipated Appointment Start Date: September 2024.  Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.

Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for two years but may be extended upon recommendation of USDA Forest Service and is contingent on the availability of funds.

Level of Participation: The appointment is full time.

Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience. The current monthly stipend for this opportunity is ~$5,500, and includes a health insurance stipend supplement, and $8,000 for travel and supplies.

Citizenship Requirements: This opportunity is available to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR), and foreign nationals. Non-U.S. citizen applicants should refer to the Guidelines for Non-U.S. Citizens Details page of the program website for information about the valid immigration statuses that are acceptable for program participation.

ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and USDA Forest Service. Participants do not become employees of USDA, USDA Forest Service, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.

Questions: Please visit our Program Website. After reading, if you have additional questions about the application process please email and include the reference code for this opportunity.


The qualified candidate should be currently pursuing or have received a master's degree in the one of the relevant fields (e.g. forestry, ecology, biology, geography or a related field). Degree must have been received within the past four years, or anticipated to be received by 9/1/2024.

Preferred skills:

  • Preference will be given to applicants with experience with Tribes and/or indigenous communities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge / Indigenous knowledge, Native American ethnobotany, qualitative data analysis and database management skills.
  • Prior experience related to grassland ecology, natural resource management, and/or plant-pollinator ecology.  
  • An aptitude for collaborations, oral and written scientific communication, attention to detail, and ability to research independently and as a team.  
Eligibility Requirements
  • Degree: Master's Degree received within the last 48 months or anticipated to be received by 9/1/2024 11:59:00 PM.
  • Academic Level(s): Graduate Students or Post-Master's.
  • Discipline(s):
    • Environmental and Marine Sciences ()
    • Life Health and Medical Sciences (10 )