The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has selected Northern Arizona University as one of eight host universities nationwide for the Doris Duke Conservation Fellows program.

NAU’s master of science program in environmental sciences and policy will award several Conservation Fellowships to deserving students in each of the next two years. The program provides funding for tuition and a paid internship for each student. Additional funding will go to NAU’s Center for Environmental Sciences and Education for career development activities.

The total funding package could exceed $100,000.

“This is a milestone in the development of our graduate program, and I think it reflects well on the efforts that the faculty has made over the past five years,” said Tom Sisk, professor of ecology and graduate coordinator for the center. “The ability of the vast majority of our graduates to find work in emerging fields directly linked to environmental problem solving is an indication that we are onto something with the environmental sciences and policy degree.”

NAU’s successful proposal stressed the need to provide more attractive opportunities for minority students, who are vastly underrepresented in conservation professions, according to Sisk.

The Doris Duke Conservation Fellows program is the premier leadership development program nationwide for master’s degree students who plan to pursue careers in conservation. The other institutions selected to be host universities for 2006-2008 are Cornell University, Duke University, Florida A&M University, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Yale University.

“Master’s degree programs, especially those preparing students to apply advanced understanding to the problems of the region, represent an important part of the university’s mission,” said Laura Huenneke, dean of NAU’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences.

“NAU’s Center for Environmental Sciences and Education strongly supports the goals of the Doris Duke Conservation Fellows program to increase the diversity of tomorrow’s conservation leaders and to train the next generation of practicing conservationists,” said Rod Parnell, chair of the center and professor of geology. “Our connections with management agencies across the Southwest and our focus on training interdisciplinary management professionals were some of the strengths of our application.”

The university’s M.S. program in environmental sciences and policy offers an interdisciplinary experience, where students pursue an integrated two-year curriculum providing rigorous training in the natural and political sciences. The relatively new program, begun in 2000, has graduated 22 students who have moved on to diverse environmental careers in industry, government and the nonprofit sector.

For information about the M.S. program in environmental sciences and policy and the Doris Duke Conservation Fellowships, contact Sisk at Thomas.Sisk@nau.edu.