National Conservation Leadership Institute

The National Conservation Leadership Institute is conservation's premier world-class experience for developing tomorrow's natural resource management leaders.

The NCLI was established in 2006 as conservation’s “War College” to train the next generation of conservation champions in the latest leadership thinking and practice.  Each year, from February to the end of April, executive directors of state fish and wildlife agencies, federal natural resource agencies, NGOs, tribes and natural resource-related industries nominate individuals to the NCLI.

The nominees are seen as possessing the “it” factor or a high potential for leveraging their leadership capacity. Through a competitive process, nominations are selected for 36 highly sought after spaces in an eight-month NCLI Cohort. Becoming an NCLI Fellow is a major step in career advancement and contributing to the future of conservation. The NCLI is suited for the highest-potential, future leaders.

Far more than a training or workshop—the NCLI is an experience. It focuses on participants questioning their beliefs and practices; unearthing and exploring their deeply-held assumptions about leadership; and experimenting in real time with the ideas. In addition to a high value on participant diversity, the NCLI moves beyond merely learning about leadership traits or styles to real world application using case examples from the trenches.

Each Cohort Fellow focuses on a specific adaptive leadership challenge from his/her own agency or organization. NCLI’s format includes one month of pre-work reading, analysis and discussion; a 10-day residency at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV facilitated by internationally recognized instructors from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and experts in the leadership field; five-month individual project implantation; and a final residency at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri to share their NCLI experiences and project presentations.

Direct, tax-deductible donations from individuals to the NCLI are encouraged and agencies can add the NCLI to their state’s charitable giving campaign lists. For more information about the NCLI, visit


AFWA Staff Contact:
Gina Main at 304/279-7755


NCLI Annual Report - Cohort 5

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