Big River Connectivity Science and Conservation Manager (F/T)



Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila earned his PhD at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds Masters degrees in environmental public policy and environmental management from Duke University. His past research has focused on valuation of non-wood forest wealth, the prioritization of ecosystems for conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean, and measuring the impact of protected areas on land cover change for international organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. As part of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at UW-Madison, Fran’s research has revolved around the integration and application of environmental and animal ethics to coexistence with wildlife, the evaluation of the mortality impacts and functional effectiveness of policies, and interventions aimed at improving coexistence with large carnivores (focusing on the gray wolf).

Francisco’s most recent work evaluating the use of lethal methods for wolf control in Michigan suggests that killing wolves does not reduce the risk of attacks on domestic ungulates (cows, sheep) any more than non-lethal interventions for treated properties. That research also found evidence of potential increased risk of attacks for adjacent properties, thus advocating for curtailing lethal methods for those purposes in the state. He also recently published an ethical examination of the laws and regulations governing gray wolf management in the state of Wisconsin, concluding that current management is blatantly dismissive of the interest of wolves and thus provides inadequate oversight for ethical interspecies coexistence. His main objective is to reform human-wildlife interactions by embedding in people the acknowledgment of moral standing for individual nonhuman animals.

Read this recently published paper co-authored by Francisco and fellow Science Advisory Board member Adrian Treves:
Santiago-Ávila, F.J., Chappell, R.J., Treves, A., 2020. Liberalizing the killing of endangered wolves was associated with more disappearances of collared individuals in Wisconsin, USAScientific Reports in press.

Job Description

Position: Big River Connectivity Science and Conservation Manager (F/T)

Reports to: Michelle Lute, National Carnivore Conservation Manager, Project Coyote

Job Description: The BIG RIVER CONNECTIVITY (BRC) Science and Conservation Manager will be based in Des Moines, Iowa and will advance the BRC mission within and across the Mississippi River Watershed by utilizing all appropriate resources of The Rewilding Institute and Project Coyote. This position will serve as the co-lead along with the BRC Coexistence Coordinator for Midwest initiatives for the two closely-affiliated organizations as part of their BeWildReWild collaboration with The Half-Earth Project. The successful candidate will provide technical expertise to help colleagues articulate how the 4Cs (Cores, Corridors, Crossings, and Coexistence) approach to wildlife management creates a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and more enduring watershed for the benefit of all life.

We are looking for a motivated team player to join two highly effective and exciting organizations undergoing strategic expansion. As national organizations working to promote coexistence with wildlife and wild nature through rewilding and science-driven advocacy and education, Project Coyote and TRI are consciously and thoughtfully cultivating our network in the Midwest. To make this position play to individual strengths, interested candidates are invited to expand on our brief description of the position and emphasize individual attributes, interests, skills, experiences, and passions to demonstrate in detail what can be expected from their leadership during year one and beyond. Share with us your vision of rewilding the Mississippi Watershed in Iowa and beyond!

About BRC: BIG RIVER CONNECTIVITY is BeWild ReWild’s vision for a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and a more enduring Mississippi River Watershed. Goals of this ambitious initiative range from rewilding floodplains and steep slopes to allowing the recolonization of apex predators and keystone species essential to a healthy ecosystem upon which biodiversity and humans depend. Great potential exists for connecting large core habitat areas like the four state Driftless Region, the four state Ozark Plateau, and the four state Loess Hills Area. Our emphasis is on reconnecting, restoring and rewilding the heartland and we take a total watershed approach.

About Project Coyote: Project Coyote promotes compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science, and advocacy.  Read more here.

About The Rewilding Institute: TRI’s mission is to develop and promote the ideas and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation in North America and beyond, particularly the need for large carnivores and a permeable landscape for their movement, and to offer a bold, scientifically credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization in North America. Read more here.

About The Half-Earth Project: The Half-Earth Project embraces BRC as a project aimed at a Half-Earth Future and in keeping with the mission to reverse the extinction crisis threatening humanity. The main role of the Half-Earth Project will be in developing educational resources and networks of learners and educators. Read more here.

Skills, Qualifications & Experience:

  • Strong belief in the mission and values of Project Coyote, TRI and The Half-Earth Project
  • Nimble and exceptional (written and oral) communication skills, ideally with interests and skills in relational organizing, story-based strategies, and use of narrative power in your theory of change
  • Minimum of three years’ experience of demonstrated management and leadership skills in advocacy, organizing and educational disciplines, ideally with knowledge/experience in environmental fields, including but not limited to wildlife conservation and/or ecologically-sustainable agriculture
  • Knowledge of and/or interest to learn about the connections between wildlife (particularly carnivores), plants and humans in complex socio-ecological systems and the impacts of extinction and climate crises on those systems; must have the ability to eloquently articulate these connections
  • Demonstrated commitment to wildlife conservation
  • Comprehensive knowledge of state policymaking processes and laws/regulations across the Midwest, relevant to the oversight and treatment of wildlife and their habitats
  • Successful track record of program management from conception through implementation
  • Team player but also able to work independently/remotely and achieve results with minimal supervision
  • Project- and team-management skills
  • Ability to successfully manage key internal and external stakeholders and relationships
  • Ability to prioritize and multitask efficiently
  • Proven ability to continually develop skills related to use of rapidly changing technology and communications
  • Ability to adapt and be flexible in a dynamic work environment

Compensation: Competitive salary based on experience and comprehensive benefit package (medical, vision and dental insurance, 11 paid holidays per year, paid vacation, and sick leave). This person will be compensated by and report to TRI and PC and can also expect non-financial support from a loosely knit group of BeWildReWild volunteers.

Location: Remote (works from home) with preference for Des Moines, Iowa location. 

Start date: September 1, 2021 start date preferred.  

To apply: Please send a letter of interest, CV/resume, and two relevant writing samples by email to: Please type “BRC Science and Conservation Manager” in the subject line.

For inquiries: Please contact