Ranch Director, Appleton Whittell Research Ranch

Job Locations
Regular, Full-Time
Job Category
Facilities/Property Maintenance


The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. We work throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state, regional, national, and international programs, nature centers, and chapters have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. As a sentinel species, we recognize that the fate of birds is inextricably tied to the fate of us all.


Audubon has more than 700 staff working across the United States and seven countries in 17 state and regional offices, 41 nature centers, and 23 wildlife sanctuaries. Together as one Audubon, we aspire to alter the course of climate change and habitat loss, leading to healthier bird populations and reversing current trends in biodiversity loss.


Audubon is committed to a culture of workplace excellence, where our talented and diverse staff are deeply engaged, with a strong sense of belonging. The birds Audubon pledges to protect differ in color, size, behavior, geographical preference, and countless other ways. By honoring and celebrating the equally remarkable diversity of the human species, Audubon will bring new creativity, effectiveness, and leadership to our work throughout the hemisphere.

Position Summary

Reporting directly to the Vice President and Executive Director of Audubon Southwest the Ranch Director at the Appleton Whittell Research Ranch (AWRR) will provide senior leadership for the facilities, operations and programs at AWRR. This includes oversight of the land, trails and grounds, management of personnel, capital projects and budget. The Director receives support in managing operations from two staff positions. In partnership with ranch staff, local community and volunteers, they will deliver on the mission to formulate, test, and demonstrate methods to rehabilitate and safeguard the bioregion, and help community members and policymakers in the protection and stewardship of our native ecosystems, natural resources and quality of life.

The Ranch Director will provide visionary leadership as Audubon works to grow and expand the impact the Ranch has in the region and the broader grassland conservation community. The Director will have the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills in the areas of land and facility management, habitat restoration, research design, educational outreach, and recreation management. The Director will also be the primary liaison with federal and state agency partners, neighboring ranchers, and community members.

A residence is provided for the Director on the AWRR.



  •  $80,000 to $85,000/year 

Essential Functions

Land and Facilities Management
• Oversee the management of the 8,000-acre research ranch, including seven buildings, multiple wells, roads, fences and other associated infrastructure.
• Develop and oversee implementation of exotic grass control demonstration and research program.
• Manage compliance and necessary permits related to vegetation treatment and management on non-deeded acres.
• Conduct strategic habitat improvements for the benefit of target wildlife species including Montezuma Quail and Chiricahua Leopard Frog
• With the help of staff and in coordination with local Volunteer Fire Department, manage vegetation and landscaping in a manner that mitigates the risk of wildfire.
Leadership and Staff Management

• Manage and support live-in staff, volunteers and contractors, in a manner that preserves and cultivates a culture of mutual respect, individual initiative, collegiality, and diversity of perspectives.
• Collaborate with staff to identify and implement best practices and evaluate outcomes, where applicable.
• With staff, help grow an active volunteer and intern program and adhere to National Audubon Society guidelines.
• Ensure safe working conditions for staff, volunteers, and visitors by adhering to Audubon Field Safety Guidelines.

Program Development and Implementation

• Work with Audubon Southwest’s community education staff to further develop on-site education and outreach programs contributing to the mission of Audubon Southwest and the National Audubon Society.
• Raise awareness of the Ranch via social media and other engagement platforms in partnership with the Audubon Southwest communications staff.
• Partner with Audubon staff to incorporate equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) principles into

Budget and Fundraising
• Work with the Executive Director and Finance Manager to develop and deliver required budgeting and financial reporting.
• In collaboration with the Operations Manager, ensure proper administration of grants, contracts, payments, etc.
• Enhance existing sources of earned income, including program revenue, camp and school program tuition, camper fees, etc.
• Effectively and enthusiastically communicate the case for support of the Ranch’s program at community and fundraising events.
• Seek new revenue opportunities, identify and secure grants, assist with and staff special fundraising events at the Ranch.
• Assure AWRR is managed in a financially responsible and accurate manner using Audubon’s standard procedures and policies.
Community Outreach and Partnership Building
• Build lasting and meaningful relationships with neighboring ranchers and community members through active participation in community groups or committees and inviting community onto the ranch for regular social events or other projects.
• Expand and implement a program of community engagement opportunities to position the AWRR as a key conservation partner in conservation and scientific initiatives in Southeastern Arizona
• Provide demonstration of best practices for managing wildlife habitat on grasslands to area landowners
• Actively listen and respond to the needs of the neighboring community.

Qualifications and Experience

• 10+ years of experience in conservation, land/facility management, ranch management, ecological research, or other similar fields is required. Previous experience managing staff, volunteers, and/or contractors strongly preferred.
• Bachelor’s degree in conservation biology, wildlife biology, environmental studies, range management, or other related field required. An equivalent combination of education and experience will also be considered.
• Must be able to manage a team while also living in close proximity to each other and needing to protect personal/professional boundaries.
• Experience in conservation planning and/or policy and applying best available science to achieve conservation outcomes.
• Track record of success in initiating and maintaining creative partnerships with a diverse suite of groups, including local officials, businesses, NGOs, government agencies, private landowners, academic institutions and other non-profit partners.
• Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills that can be adapted to reach a wide range of individuals and used to build consensus. Ability to synthesize and communicate technical and complex information to both technical and non-technical audiences.
• Demonstrated experience overseeing complex or multiple projects through to success, including meeting financial goals and project deadlines, managing third-party contracts, conducting required reporting and tracking, and coordinating the work of key staff and partners.
• Experience working with multigenerational audiences and diverse cultural communities and a commitment to increasing EDIB as a core component of our work.
• Exceptional listening skills and the ability address visitor and community needs accordingly.
• Demonstrated experience in grant writing and fundraising.
• Must be technically savvy including proficiency with Microsoft Office applications, and other online software.
• Ability to think strategically and creatively, while managing multiple tasks, meeting deadlines and operating in a dynamic, fast-paced environment
• Knowledge of basic maintenance, repair, and safety issues required
• Willing to work outdoors in varying terrain and weather conditions and transport up to 75 lbs. with or without accommodation
• Willing to work occasional weekend and/or evening events
• Must possess a valid driver’s license
• Interest in and commitment to the mission and vision of the National Audubon Society

EEO Statement

The National Audubon Society is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status. We are committed to a policy of nondiscrimination, inclusion and equal opportunity and actively seek a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

Accessibility Statement

The National Audubon Society endeavors to keep our careers site accessible to any and all users.  If you would like to contact us regarding the accessibility of our website or need assistance completing the application process, please contact Accommodations@audubon.org. This contact information is for accommodation requests only and cannot be used to inquire about the status of applications.

COVID Policy

All new hires must be fully vaccinated prior to their start of employment unless they are pre-qualified by HR for exemption.


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