Michael Scott, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, Environment Program

FUNDING AREAS: Conservation, clean energy, climate change

CONTACT: mscott@hewlett.org, 650-234-4500

IP TAKE: In his more than three decades working in conservation, Scott has watched the debate and landscape change in huge ways, literally and figuratively. One significant shift that he’s noted in interviews is a growing interest among farmers, ranchers, hunters, and fishers in helping to make conservation happen. 

PROFILE: Michael Scott has been a program officer at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2008, but he has been a full-time advocate for conservation in the western United States (and beyond) for far longer. Back in the early 1980s, in fact, he had already made a name for himself as one of the go-to defenders of the Rockies, the Yellowstone region, and other iconic wilderness areas of the American West.

His present-day job description, program officer in Hewlett’s Environment Program, entails heading up the foundation’s environmental grant making to initiatives in the western United States and Canada. The whole panorama of environmental projects in these regions is part of Scott's passionate purview, though land and water conservation are his definitive top areas of interest.

Big recent grantees include the Western Conservation Foundation out of Denver, and Western Resource Advocates, which protects water, air and land in seven states. The Environment Program also gives to groups with more specific focuses, like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Sonoran Institute.

Grant seekers working in conservation and seeking support from Scott and Hewlett need to align precisely with the program's detailed strategies. For starters, they should be located in the Environment Program’s geographic area of interest, e.g., the American west and Canada. The program’s jurisdiction encompasses 12 Western states and three Canadian provinces, from New Mexico all the way up to Scott’s former home base in Montana, and as far north as Alaska.

In his more than three decades working in conservation, Scott has established numerous partnerships with farmers, ranchers, hunters, and fishers. While this may strike some environmentalists as an unlikely partnership, Scott will say that it simply underscores how important it is for conservationists to reach out to other parties, find shared goals, and work together to reach them. As he stated in a 2009 interview on the foundation's own website:

The challenges we face in the future, particularly when you consider those related to global warming, really demand that we find a new way for people to work together. Without it, the West will begin to unravel... As conservationists have reached out to talk to the hunting, fishing, and ranching communities, they've found, perhaps not surprisingly, that people share similar hopes and aspirations for the places they live… That realization is starting to bear fruit.

Hewlett's Western Conservation program is currently accepting unsolicited letters of inquiry, with no deadlines. You can submit a letter of inquiry via their online application. Do spend some time reviewing Hewlett’s strategies, however, to make sure that your project is a match. And in particular pay attention to what the foundation does not fund, such as marine conservation.

All of the issues Hewlett does fund, by the way, are ones that Scott has been deeply involved with throughout his career. For 12 years before starting at Hewlett, Scott worked for and ultimately became executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a prominent nonprofit advocate for protecting not just Yellowstone National Park, but the entire ecosystem that supports it. Taking a comprehensive look at the interlocking factors and communities involved in protecting a threatened ecosystem was central to Scott's work around Yellowstone. He is credited for negotiating public acquisition of 150,000 acres of former timber company land north of the park. 

Before Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Scott spent 16 years working with The Wilderness Society, a big and historic name in American conservation. He worked to pass a number of pieces of land protection legislation and became an authority on the Northern Rockies, while based both in D.C. and in the West.