Increasing Diversity in Environmental Careers

in a tent

The Increasing Diversity in Environmental Careers (IDEC) program is a unique college to careers pathway program for underrepresented STEM college students, to pursue a career in environmental and natural resources fields, through a fellowship, mentorship, and paid internship program. The IDEC program provides opportunities for participants to:

  • Gain resources to ensure academic success
  • Receive a yearly academic stipend
  • Get hands-on experience through paid summer experiential learning and internships
  • Learn more about environmental or natural resources careers
  • Enhance personal and professional development
  • Become a more competitive job applicant after graduation


Through a strategic partnership between the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa (CCMI), MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), this collaborative program intends to reduce and eliminate barriers that inhibit under-represented students from completing STEM degrees and obtaining environmental careers post-graduation.

The Increasing Diversity in Environmental Careers (IDEC) program is one strategy to develop and tap into the diverse labor market. This program goes beyond just developing a pipeline of potential employees — it is also about fostering the next generation of environment and natural resources professionals and enthusiasts. As a result, professionals will be more connected to the environment and bring diversity and innovation to the conservation and management of the state’s natural resources. The IDEC Program is an LCCMR project, funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Funding for the project runs through June 30, 2024.

Program components

Fellowship: The fellowship program provides students with a supportive community, a yearly academic scholarship, and professional development opportunities. Fellows work with the IDEC program manager, who coordinates resources and helps them navigate challenges during their academic journey. Also, fellows attend in-person cohort sessions to stay connected to their peers and participate in professional development. Fellows participate in the program until they graduate college.

Mentorship: The mentorship program connects IDEC fellows with professionals in the field who can share their experiences and support them throughout the program journey. The purpose of the mentorship program is to enhance college success, encourage personal and professional development, and promote the career advancement of under-represented STEM students participating in the IDEC Program by pairing fellows with DNR, PCA, or BWSR employees.

Internship: The internship program allows fellows to learn more about environmental and natural resources career paths through paid, on-the-job experiences. The internship program includes first-year summer rotational and second and third-year summer agency internships. The internships are full-time paid opportunities that run from June through August.

During the first-year summer rotational internship, fellows rotate between the DNR, the MPCA, and the BWSR. The rotation allows fellows to learn about each agency and explore different career paths in environmental and natural resources fields.

After completing the first-year rotational internship, fellows choose one of the three agencies to intern at for their second and third summer in the IDEC program. The second and third-year summer agency internships provide fellows with an opportunity to gain more work experience in their desired career fields before graduating from college.

What is involved in participation in the IDEC program?

If accepted into the IDEC Program, fellows are expected to:

  • Attend an initial orientation 
  • Actively participate with the cohort by attending regular training and professional development sessions from September through May
  • Accept and complete IDEC experiential learnings and internships each summer
  • Maintain academic standing at school throughout the IDEC Program

What are the program qualifications?

To be considered for this program, the following requirements must be met:

  • Be in pursuit of a STEM major with a desire to work in natural resources/environmental careers upon graduation
  • Accepted to or currently enrolled in a two or four-year full-time program at an accredited state, community, private, or tribal college/university
  • Willingness to commit to the full IDEC program
  • Be authorized to work in the United States

* Proof of admission or enrollment is required

How to apply

To apply or for more information about the IDEC program, please visit the Minnesota Conservation Corps website.

Back to top