Employment Opportunities


American Kestrel Prey Abundance Technician

The Clifton Institute, in partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), launched a research program in 2021 to investigate foraging habitat selection of American Kestrels in northern Virginia. We tagged 25 kestrels with GPS transmitters and learned that they prefer cattle pastures for hunting, but they also use other habitats, and that their usage of different habitats changes through the season. In 2023 we will measure the abundance of kestrel prey in cattle pastures, hay fields, row crops, and native meadows, with the goal of better understanding their requirements. We will use our results to inform farmers and other landowners how they can manage their land to benefit kestrels and other declining species.

TERM: This is a 4-month position beginning April 4, 2023 and ending August 4, 2023.

DUTIES: 1) set up arrays of ink pads to measure small mammal abundance, 2) do transect surveys for grasshopper and dragonflies, 3) enter and analyze data, 4) prepare an early draft of a manuscript for publication, 5) other duties as assigned. We expect about 80% of this position to be field-based.

SALARY AND BENEFITS: The successful applicant may expect to receive: – $1,567 per month (total of $6,268 for the duration of position) – Free basic housing and utilities – Reimbursement for mileage driven on their personal vehicle for fieldwork ($0.625 per mile/current federal rate)

REQUIRED SKILLS/EXPERIENCE: 1. Strong interest in wildlife and applied conservation 2. Demonstrated ability to work in challenging field conditions. The job will involve long days, 90+ degree heat, high humidity, thick thorny undergrowth, ticks and chiggers, and hiking off trail. 3. Excellent organization skills and strong attention to detail. 4. Comfort with Microsoft Windows, Excel, and Google Sheets which will be used for data entry. 5. Excellent communication skills, and professionalism when working with people from different backgrounds. 6. Ability to work independently but an interest and excitement to collaborate with team members. The position will involve close work with additional project interns and students. 7. Valid US Driver’s License and ability to use personal vehicle for travel among study sites. 8. Must be authorized to work in the United States without sponsorship. 9. Vaccination against COVID-19 required.

PREFERRED SKILLS/EXPERIENCE 1. Data analysis in R 2. Scientific writing TO APPLY: Please send the following materials in an email to jobs@cliftoninstitute.org. Send your materials as a single PDF, with your last name and “Prey Abundance” in the file name and subject line of the email (very important). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. 1. A 1-page cover letter 2. A brief resume/CV. We much prefer to read a cover letter about how this position fits in with your interests and goals rather than a letter trying to convince us of your qualifications.

Landowner Outreach Associate

The Clifton Institute seeks a Landowner Outreach Associate to educate landowners on best practices for habitat management in northern Virginia, to with government agencies and partner organizations to improve management of native grasslands, and to restore and maintain the Clifton Institute property for the benefit of declining native species. Since the start of our landowner outreach program in 2021, and we have met with 180 landowners and influenced the management of 14,000 acres.

Duties for this position include:

  • Visiting private properties to advise landowners on the management of grasslands, shrublands, forests, and gardens to benefit native biodiversity and achieve landowners’ goals. This will include conducting rapid baseline plant assessments to guide management plans and providing advice on:
    • Restoration of mixed native/non-native grasslands
    • Establishment of wildflower meadows
    • Management of remnant Piedmont prairies
    • Organic and/or conventional management of invasive exotic plants
    • Shrubland management to provide habitat for priority species (e.g. Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, American Woodcock)
    • Using cattle to manage grasslands to benefit declining birds (e.g. Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel) and pollinators
    • Wildlife management (e.g. managing grasslands for Northern Bobwhite)
    • Sustainable forestry
  • Working with partners (e.g. managers of public lands, state biologists, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and Virginia Department of Forestry, and non-profit organizations) to improve grassland management at a large scale.
  • Collaborating with the Habitat Specialist and Groundskeeper to manage grasslands, shrublands, cattle pastures, and forests at the Clifton Institute for the benefit of declining biodiversity, and to ensure the Clifton Institute property serves as an example of best practices.
  • Generating interest in the Clifton Institute’s restoration and education programs and cultivating potential donors.

The successful candidate will have the following qualifications:

  • A personal passion for conservation, land management, and wildlife. An interest in the conservation of grassland species on private lands.
  • Experience with grassland restoration or wildflower meadow establishment, such as seed mix design, seed drilling, herbicide application, mowing, discing, cover crops, and sustainable grazing.
  • Knowledge of the flora and fauna of grasslands, shrublands, and forests of eastern North America. Ability to identify grassland plants and birds in the mid-Atlantic or ability to translate knowledge of species of another region to Virginia species.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills required. Fundraising experience a plus.
  • Excellent writing skills required.
  • Experience with prescribed fire a plus.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in ecology, biology, natural resources, wildlife management, or related field. A graduate degree in environmental sciences a plus.

Salary and Benefits:

  • The starting salary will be $47,000 per year.
  • Full-time employees receive 20 paid days off during their first year of employment. In addition, we observe 10 public holidays.
  • The employee will enjoy a flexible work schedule and a generous 1:1 compensatory time policy.
  • We have competitive health, dental, and retirement benefits.
  • In addition, employees of the Clifton Institute spend a significant amount of time outside on our beautiful 900-acre property.

COVID-19 Information:

Vaccination against COVID-19 is required.

Start date:

6 June 2023

How to apply:

Please send applications to jobs@cliftoninstitute.org. Please include a resume and a cover letter describing your interest in working at the Clifton Institute. We much prefer to read a cover letter about how this position fits in with your interests and goals rather than a letter trying to convince us of your qualifications. Please also provide the names and email addresses of at least three references. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and we will contact you if we would like to schedule an interview.

In the administration of its employment policies and practices, The Clifton Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, age, personal appearance, family responsibilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status, matriculation, political affiliation or genetic information.

Updated March 16 2023.