Category Archives: Environmental Fellows Program

Jovan and his mentor Jeff stand together smiling with fall foliage behind them.

The Value of Mentorship

On a chilly day in late October, the Environmental Fellows and their Mass Audubon staff mentors gathered at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton. As the fellows and their mentors often meet virtually, the chance to convene outside and learn more about the wildlife at the museum was a welcome change of scenery.  

Relationship- and network-building is a priority of the Environmental Fellowship Program (EFP). Through networking events, educational excursions, and cohort check-ins, the fellows are encouraged to connect with each other, professionals in the environmental and conservation fields, and Mass Audubon staff, including mentors who are matched with each fellow.  

More than just an experienced colleague, the mentors are there to support fellows as they navigate their positions at Mass Audubon and plan for what is next in their career.

“It’s amazing to have someone who is there to help lift you up so you can do your best professionally and is also checking in with you as a friend at the organization,” said Amara Chittenden, the conservation science fellow. “My mentor has helped me develop confidence and made me feel valued as a coworker.” 

A Red-tailed hawk perches on Emily's gloved hand. In the foreground, Amara looks on, smiling.
Amara looks on as Wildlife Care Supervisor Emily Hastings presents a Red-tailed Hawk and explains how wildlife care staff will take walks with a bird on their arm so that the animals can experience a variety of sights and sensations throughout the day.

Mentors volunteer their time to support the EFP, excited by the opportunity to work with the fellows. “I’ve always enjoyed acting as a mentor, even in less formal arrangements. I find it rewarding,” said Jeff Ritterson, mentor and field ornithologist for Mass Audubon.  

Jovan Bryan, land conservation fellow and Jeff’s mentee, reflected on the value of having a mentor:  

“Jeff has been a huge help in making me feel comfortable as I move through the workspace. I quickly learned that your mentor is there to help, so ask for help even if you don’t think you ‘need’ any. A second perspective is a great thing to have, and they’re willing to give it to you.” 

Jovan and his mentor Jeff stand together smiling with fall foliage behind them.
Jovan and Jeff posed for a quick photo together before finishing the uphill climb to the observation tower at Blue Hills.

While the goal of these relationships is to support the fellows, mentors are enjoying the benefits of this connection as well. “Anna [Cass] brings a lot to this relationship including her valuable background, keen observations, great questions, and an eagerness to understand different perspectives on what she’s curious about,” said Lucy Gertz, Anna’s mentor and director of adult education and accessibility. 

Isa and Zaskya stand together smiling and leaning on the stone wall behind them. Behind the wall is a horizon filled with fall foliage.
Policy and Advocacy Fellow Isabela Chachapoyas-Ortiz and her mentor, Development Manager Zaskya Perez, were excited to enjoy the view at the top of Blue Hills.

As the fellows envision their future careers, mentorship is something they’re thinking about both for themselves and for the next generation of environmental leaders that follows them. Amara is hoping to continue a legacy of mentorship.  

“One of my favorite experiences was getting ice cream after a hard day in the salt marsh,” Amara said. “My mentor, [Coastal Resilience Program Director] Dr. Danielle Perry, talked about how her own mentor brought her for ice cream after a long day in the field, and it really felt like that circle of support fulfilling itself. I hope one day I can give this experience to someone else.”

Five Environmental Fellows stand in a line smiling with green leaves in the background.

Meet the Environmental Fellows

Mass Audubon’s Environmental Fellowship Program offers a 14-month position to recent graduates launching their careers. In its inaugural year, Mass Audubon welcomed five fellows.

Five Environmental Fellows stand in a line smiling with green leaves in the background.
Environmental Fellows 2022-2023

Each fellow in the cohort is based in a different Mass Audubon department, but they still see each other often for fellowship workshops and experiences out in nature. Their role at Mass Audubon is two-fold: They are here to gain experience and develop skills that will help advance their careers, and they are also here to contribute their talents to advancing Mass Audubon’s work to protect the nature of Massachusetts. 

“It’s been so fulfilling to work with the fellows,” said Aisha Farley, the early career programs manager. “Each of them brings a well-considered perspective to their work, which is impressive to see from folks so early in their careers.” 

Jovan Bryan, Land Conservation Fellow 

Jovan is wearing a maroon shirt and smiling with trees in the background.
Jovan Bryan

Jovan (he/him) earned his degree in environmental science from UMass Lowell. His studies included minors in climate change and sustainability, as well as architectural studies. He enjoys biking, hiking, laying out in the sun with a cool breeze, and watching movies with his family. His relationship with nature is just as important and personal to him as his relationships with people.

The opportunity to engage with the environment and communities alike through land conservation is what drew him to Mass Audubon. As he builds the skills necessary to create more connections between people and nature during his fellowship, Jovan’s hope is to spread a message of understanding and respect for one another and for the natural world. 

Anna Cass, Marketing & Communications Fellow 

Anna is wearing a blue sweater and glasses, smiling with trees in the background.
Anna Cass

Anna (she/her) graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in public health, public policy, and socially transformative arts. She spent the last few years working in communications for a disability policy research institute, focusing on inclusive communications and improving the reach of impactful, intersectional research.

Anna will soon complete a Master of Science in digital marketing and design. When she’s not at work, you’ll find her painting, taking photos in nature, or tending to a menagerie of house plants.  

Isabela Chachapoyas Ortiz, Policy & Advocacy Fellow 

Isabela wearing a black shirt, smiling with green leaves in the background.
Isabela Chachapoyas Ortiz

Isabela (she/her) graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a degree in environmental and sustainability studies and has been involved in coalition work with several environmental organizations.

She especially enjoys working with youth and focusing on policy for environment-related issues, specifically environmental justice and Indigenous justice. Some of her hobbies include going on hikes, playing soccer, watching shows, and singing. 

Amara Chittenden, Conservation Science Fellow 

Amara wearing a color-blocked button down, smiling with trees in the background.
Amara Chittenden

Amara (she/they) graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in biological sciences. While there, she had the opportunity to research organisms from harvester ants to humpback whales. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new trails, making art out of stained glass, and playing guitar.

After working in labs testing for diseases like COVID-19, she is excited to pivot back to her passion in the environmental field and immerse herself in a team of seasoned professionals who can speak to a variety of career paths in conservation science. 

Isabella Guerero, Environmental Education Fellow 

Isabella wearing a red sweater, smiling with green leaves in the background.
Isabella Guerero

Isabella (she/her/any) graduated from Lesley University with a degree in biology, with a special interest in botany and natural history. She enjoys observing wildlife camera trap data and advocating for food justice and environmental opportunities for underrepresented communities.

In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, reading, and hanging out with her backyard chickens in her home garden. She is excited to work in education, learn from the other fellows and Mass Audubon staff, and become a voice in the environmental science world. 

About the Environmental Fellowship Program

Mass Audubon created the Environmental Fellowship Program to expand early career opportunities for young professionals with identities that have been historically underrepresented in the environmental and conservation fields.

To apply to the program, learn more, or support the program, visit

Post by Anna Cass