Zero Waste and Plastic Pollution Graduate Student Research Fellowship, National Wildlife Federation


Job Title: Zero Waste and Plastic Pollution Graduate Student Research Fellowship

Organization: National Wildlife Federation

Overview: National Wildlife Federation is the managing partner for the national Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly RecycleMania) Program. A key component of the program is the CR2ZW competition, a college and university competition focused on helping campuses reduce their waste and improve their recycling on campus. CR2ZW is also launching a new recognition program for colleges and universities taking action to reduce the purchase and use of plastics on campus; the program will make its debut in late 2021. One the major threats to wildlife is the increasing amount of plastic pollution that is ending up in our natural environment, specifically in our streams, rivers, bays and oceans. NWF would like to grow our engagement and impact to help campuses work toward zero waste and reduce their dependence on plastics by identifying zero waste campus leaders and sharing their best practices, as well as identifying campuses that are at the beginning of their journey of tackling waste on campus and providing them support to reach their goals.

Fellowship Description: Develop a campus list of zero waste and plastic reduction campus leaders in the U.S and summarize their efforts. Secondly, develop a campus list of schools with recycling programs and broader goals to reduce waste on campus that are not currently engaged with the CR2ZW program. These lists should be developed in accordance with the competencies listed below, ensuring that the innovations and contributions of leaders from historically underrepresented communities in the environmental community are represented.


  • Register and maintain an active personal profile and presence on NWF EcoLeaders community, and promote to personal network
  • Create project plan for a 4-6 month Fellowship term based on desired goal (stated above)
  • Develop a campus list of zero waste and plastic reduction leaders (20-30 campuses) and summarize each campus’s efforts based on a provided template. The summaries will be posted on the website and shared via social media.
  • Develop a campus list of schools (75-100 campuses) that host recycling/waste reduction programs and have not engaged with the CR2ZW program.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Participate in a Fellowship kick-off call – date TBD
  • Participate in periodic phone check-ins with NWF staff about project status and responsibilities
  • Submit biweekly project updates throughout the Fellowship detailing the progress you have made and plans for the duration of your Fellowship

Desired Qualifications: 

  • Motivated by values of equity and responsibility to those most marginalized.
  • Dedicated to deepening understanding of cultural and systemic racism and the intersectionality of multiple forms of social inequality.
  • Demonstrates awareness of positional power and privilege (both personally and professionally) and its attendant impacts.
  • Consistently brings a high level of empathy and social skills to work and interpersonal interactions
  • Demonstrates awareness of the attributes associated with a white dominant culture and takes actions to dismantle hierarchies of oppression within that culture. 
  • Must be a strategic thinker, self-starter, well organized, strong communicator, and relationship builder.
  • An entrepreneurial spirit, initiative and energy is critical to success.
  • Must have a passion for and commitment to NWF’s mission.

Perks and Privileges:

  • $5,500 stipend
  • Professional development resources, assistance, and networking
  • Possibility of academic credit for successful completion of the project, as an independent study or integration of fellowship project into course curricula

Application Deadline: April 21

How to apply: Click here to view the full application requirements as well as to apply