RCC Fellowship Information

About the RCC National Environment Leadership Fellowship (NELF) Program

The RCC National Environment Leadership Fellowship (NELF) Program is designed to identify outstanding students with a passion for environmental education, organizing, and advocacy and provide them with financial support to carry out valuable projects and campaigns on behalf of the RCC. To apply to the program, students propose projects that are focused on sustainability and environmental justice to be carried out from their campuses and their communities. Individuals considering applying to the program may consider a wide variety of potential projects. Former fellows have run projects ranging from divestment campaigns to podcasts on environmental justice issues to campaigns for renewable energy infrastructure.

Special consideration will be given to fellows applying in areas where the Rachel Carson Council has ongoing campaigns or work. These include, but are not limited to: divestment, renewable energy, particularly solar energy, and environmental justice issues. More information about RCC’s work can be found on our website.

RCC Fellows become nationally recognized environmental youth leaders. If accepted into the program, Fellows will become active members of the RCC national campus program with thousands of active faculty, students, staff and administrators at 66 campuses. They will also benefit from the mentorship of longtime national climate and environmental advocate, expert, and author Dr. Robert K. Musil, and RCC senior staff.

RCC Fellows selected for the 2024-2025 cohort will also benefit from attending in person the RCC American Environmental Leadership Institute (AELI) for the 5 days from July 21-24, 2024. The AELI will be held at the Rockwood Manor Retreat Center adjacent to the C&O Canal National Park just outside Washington, DC, one of Rachel Carson’s favorite haunts for bird watching and enjoying nature.

Faculty for the AELI include Dr. Musil, RCC staff, and selected members of the RCC National Advisory Council, noted writers, environmental educators, organizers, and NGO leaders. You can see the RCC National Advisory Council here: RCC National Advisory Council.

How it works

Upon successfully developing a project proposal and being accepted into the Fellowship cohort, all fellows will attend the 2024 summer RCC American Environmental Leadership Institute (AELI), taking place from July 21-25, 2024. There, Fellows will develop project plans for the upcoming year, participate in trainings to hone their leadership, writing, advocacy and organizing skills, meet their cohort, while also networking and learning from RCC senior staff and national environmental leaders on the RCC National Advisory Council.

Following completion of the fellows training, RCC Fellows will report to their campuses and begin their work for academic year 2024 – 2025. Over the course of the year, RCC Fellows will have bi-weekly mentoring calls with RCC staff and periodic calls with other members of the fellowship cohort to strategize and enhance their projects.

During the year, Fellows will have the opportunity to publish writings about their work for the RCC to be shared on the RCC website and distributed through RCC networks. Each Fellow will be responsible for deliverables each month, including photo essays (blogs). Fellows’ writing may grow out of their projects or campaigns but may also include other issues relevant to the work of RCC. A critical component of the fellowship program, fellows will be able to hone their writing skills for a professional advocacy setting over the course of the year and receive mentorship on their work, as consistent with the rest of the program.

RCC Fellows will also develop critical contacts and experience, and upon completion of their term, join the RCC alumni network as they look forward to careers as engaged environmental leaders.

Fellows should expect to work on their project or campaign each week over the course of their fellowship, carry out 7-10 advocacy hours per semester (presenting about your project in classes, attending RCC webinars and events) as well as promote the RCC and encourage RCC membership and participation in its events and actions by students and faculty.

All RCC Fellows receive a $2,000 stipend distributed throughout the academic year.

Read about our current fellows here.

About the Application

Project proposal:

In three pages or less, describe to us your project or campaign that relates to environmental justice, ocean and coastal advocacy, anti-fossil fuels, biomass, renewable energy, food insecurity, or sustainable agriculture. In your proposal, be sure to highlight how your project is related to environmental justice, sustainability, or the climate crisis. Further, be sure to explain what drew you to this issue, how you have exhibited leadership, and a basic outline of how you hope to achieve your goals. In addition to learning about your issue and your plan, we are interested in your background in environmental work, how the fellowship program will benefit you, why you feel deeply about your issue, and how it connects to the goals of the Rachel Carson Council.

In addition to the project proposal, students will also submit a resume, two references including name and contact information, and two writing samples of no more than three pages each. Please include a writing sample that reveals your originality and your personal perspective in a more journalistic, rather than academic style. Samples from academic work will ideally touch on issues of interest to the RCC.

Your proposal will be strengthened by reviewing the RCC website and especially the work and writing of previous RCC Fellows. Your project will grow out of the circumstances of your own college or university but is likely to use techniques and tactics like those used elsewhere. We value creative approaches to environmental and justice issues but also hope your project may stimulate similar ones and be replicable at other colleges even if tailored to meet your own circumstances. Projects can and have involved organizing campaigns on divestment and reinvestment, lobbying on coastal and ocean protection; the arts and communications such as a series of podcasts on factory farms, curriculum development, community engagement, campus and community solar installation, campus and community organic gardens, food pantries and food insecurity, and network building with Black, Latino, and LGBT+ communities.

Need some inspiration? Read about our current fellows here.


For this application you will need:

  • A resume
  • A written proposal detailing the issue you care about, the project you are proposing to address it, and how it relates to the broad efforts of the RCC and the environmental movement. No longer than three pages, please.
  • Two writing samples from your academic or extracurricular work.
  • Two references including name, position and contact information
Successful RCC Fellowship applicants will demonstrate:
  • Passion for environmental education, organizing or advocacy and that they have identified an issue they wish to work on.
  • Strong academic performance with an emphasis on the environment in various disciplines or majors.
  • Outstanding writing and research with ability to meet deadlines and follow specific content and formatting instructions.
  • Participation and leadership in campus environmental or related justice activities
  • Initiative and the capacity to perform creative problem solving and deal with uncertainty.
  • Appreciation for the mission, goals, and issues of the Rachel Carson Council and Rachel Carson’s legacy.
Benefits Fellows will receive:
  • A $2,000 stipend over the fellowship term
  • National recognition as an RCC Fellow
  • Experience in professional writing and opportunities to publish
  • Training and mentorship from environmental professionals on the RCC staff
  • Professional experience organizing and working for a national environmental non-profit
  • Training in advocacy, organizing, and writing as well as mentorship under RCC staff
  • Tuition, room, board and participation in residence at the RCC American Environmental Leadership Institute (AELI), July 21-25, 2024)
  • Access to the RCC National Advisory Council and RCC Alumni Network

Contact Mackenzie Kirschbaum
Associate Director, Civic and Campus Engagement
[email protected]