Doris Duke Collaborative wins Group Achievement Award

Partnership program helps boost students from diverse backgrounds in the wildlife profession

The Doris Duke Conservation Scholarship Program Collaborative has earned The Wildlife Society’s 2023 Group Achievement Award for outstanding work on improving diversity in wildlife scholarship.    

In 2013, TWS member Rena Borkhataria spearheaded the DDCSP Collaborative. She now serves as the executive director and national coordinator. The Collaborative is a partnership between the Doris Duke Conservation Scholarship Program and five host universities.

Every year, DDDCSP accepts a number of students from diverse backgrounds into its two-year program. During their first year, these students work in the program in a number of different environments, with a diverse group of peers and wildlife professionals, conducting fieldwork and helping with wildlife management projects. 

In the second year, the Collaborative pays students to intern with government agencies or other organizations. Doris Duke students also attend the Conservation Leadership Week sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at its National Conservation Training Center as well as a national professional society conference, where they summarize their research projects.

During the school year, the students have opportunities to partner with mentors at the University of Idaho, University of Arizona, North Carolina State University, University of Florida and University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

New Scholar Emily Martucci learns bird-banding skills from University of Idaho program lead Courtney Conway during Conservation Leadership Week at NCTC Credit: Lena Fletcher

To date, 145 students have completed the program since the first group began in 2014. At least 42 of those have gone onto enroll in a master’s or PhD program in wildlife or other environmental programs.  Nearly 70% of attendees had jobs or were still in graduate school related to conservation five years after they finished the program. The students have authored or co-authored 32 peer-reviewed papers and two books.

“The Collaborative is making a real difference in the lives of the undergraduate students who participate and is bringing much needed diversity to the field of wildlife conservation,” said Christian Smith, Western field representative from the Wildlife Management Institute, in his nomination letter. “I cannot think of a group more worthy of acknowledgement by The Wildlife Society for their accomplishments.”

Header Image: The Doris Duke Conservation Scholarship Program Collaborative Class of 2023 at Conservation Leadership Week at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. Credit: Jared Green/USFWS