Job Opportunities

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers many opportunities for students, professionals, and volunteers.

Job Openings at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's leading resource for conservation, research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. The Lab is a vibrant unit within Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), where twelve world-class, mission-driven programs are directed by full-time faculty and other renowned professionals. Lab staff teach undergraduate courses, advise graduate students, collect and disseminate world-famous digital resources on biodiversity, and engage with partner organizations and citizens around the world to conduct scientific research and conservation actions. Our management and staff are committed to the highest standards of ethics and excellence in all areas of our work, and our Board leadership includes faculty from Cornell and other universities, successful entrepreneurs and managers from the business and non-profit sectors, and conservation-minded citizens from the United States and beyond.

To apply for the positions below, please refer to the Jobs at Cornell website unless otherwise specified. For more information on the positions listed below, please contact Sue Taggart; (607) 254-2470.

For more jobs in ornithology, see listings from the Ornithological Societies of North America.

Director of Foundation Relations

The Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Director of Foundation Relations. Duties include:

  • The Director of Foundation Relations within the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is a front-line fund-raising professional with clear revenue goals, whose primary responsibility is identifying, cultivating, soliciting, stewarding and reporting for private foundations.
  • Collaborate with all Lab Faculty, Research Associates, Program Directors, and project staff to research and identify private foundations willing to support program initiatives at the Cornell Lab with restricted and unrestricted gifts and grants.
  • These gifts and grants will assist the programs in sustaining cutting edge research and development and increasing audience reach, scale and effectiveness.
  • This is a highly collaborative position to serve as a catalyst and resource for dozens of highly accomplished scientists and professionals very familiar with successful proposal writing.
  • Identify critical strategic opportunities for proposals, develop relationships with foundation staff members, write or collaborate on proposal writing, compile accurate and timely submissions, develop and maintain an archive of proposal ideas and narratives, and prepare effective reporting.
  • Must be highly organized and enjoy the process of writing, revising and editing proposals.
  • Incorporate effective evaluation components in proposals by collaborating with the Lab's Program Development and Evaluation Program, a unique and valuable program that serves as an exceptional organizational asset for successful work with foundations.
  • Extensive understanding of the strategic goals of the Lab and current activities of each program is required.
  • Collaborate with Alumni Affairs & Development and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences staff in foundation relations.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree with at least 3-5 years of demonstrated fundraising success from grant writing, foundation outreach, development, public relations or a similar area.
  • Excellent written, interpersonal and telephone communication skills required.
  • Confident and proactive interpersonal and presentation, organizational, and project management skills needed.
  • Must be appropriately aggressive and creative, with a drive to find many opportunities to submit foundation proposals.
  • Must have the ability to qualify foundation prospects and establish and maintain good relationships with them.
  • Ability to represent the Lab and the University while working effectively in a team environment.
  • Position requires thoughtful exchange of ideas and mission with many unique and varied program staff in the Lab and within foundations.
  • Must show initiative and good judgment.
  • Aptitude and enthusiasm for research and discovery of information related to foundations.
  • Ability to understand the Lab's priorities in relation to the University's mission and be able to articulate these to foundations.
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment and leadership, and to operate in a collaborative, professional, and ethical manner.
  • Ability to work in a time-sensitive, goal oriented, and deadline-driven environment.
  • Must be able to work with highly sensitive and confidential information.
  • Must have valid U.S. Driver's License.
  • Willingness and ability to travel 15+ days a year to visit foundation officers.
  • Some evening and weekend work may be required.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Masters in a related field.
  • Active commitment to science, conservation, nature, and higher education.
  • 5 to 7 years of fundraising success through grant writing in a university setting and/or with conservation organizations.
  • Established success and relationships with some of the top 100 foundations.

Major Gifts Officer

The Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Major Gifts Officer. Duties include:

  • The Major Gifts Officer (MGO) within the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology is a front-line fund raising professional responsible for development and maintenance of relationships with approximately 150 (households) having giving potential of $100,000 or more.
  • Research, develop, and implement appropriate solicitation strategies for prospects (current or prospective Lab Members) while proactively advancing the mission of the Lab, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell.
  • Collaborate with Lab Program Directors and Lab staff, AA&D, and regional staff and colleagues in areas across the division especially: Gift Planning, Donor Relations, and Principal Gifts.
  • Reporting to the Senior Director of Development and Philanthropy, develop personal relationships with new prospects and collaborate with individuals who can help foster prospects' relationships with the Lab and Cornell.
  • These natural partners, whom we call "prime" and "secondary," may be Lab directors or staff, Lab administrative board members, friends and peers of the prospect, or vice presidents, vice provosts, deans, directors, faculty members, trustees, presidential councillors and major gift committee members of Cornell University.
  • Maintain an in-depth knowledge of the Lab's annual and strategic priorities within the context of the university's priorities, and inspire the respect and confidence of the executive, academic, administrative, trustee, and volunteer leadership of Cornell.
This position is located in Ithaca, New York and will require extensive travel. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent, with at least 3-5 years of experience in major gift fundraising, comprehensive campaign fundraising, and estate planning.
  • Willingness and ability to travel 100+ days a year.
  • Some evening and weekend work is required.
  • Ability to identify and evaluate donor prospects and to establish and maintain personal relationships with these prospects.
  • Excellent and proactive written, interpersonal, and telephone communication skills are required.
  • Must be a collaborative problem solver and bring an entrepreneurial approach to designing creative donor engagement strategies.
  • Must be friendly and adaptive.
  • Position requires comfortable personal interaction with many unique, varied, and accomplished donors.
  • Aptitude for computer software applications, relational databases, and the internet, including their uses as research and management tools.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with individuals from across the university, as well as key alumni, volunteers, and executive staff.
  • Abilities to learn and understand the Lab's and the University's priorities and to articulate these clearly to donor prospects.
  • Must be able to exercise sound judgment and leadership, and to operate in a collaborative, professional, and ethical manner.
  • Ability to work in a time-sensitive, goal oriented, and deadline driven environment.
  • Must be able to work with highly sensitive and confidential information.
  • Must have valid driver's license and the ability to travel.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Active commitments to science, conservation, nature, and higher education.
  • Fundraising experience in a university setting and/or with conservation organizations is preferred.
  • Volunteer management experience would be beneficial.

Senior Director, Development and Philanthropy

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is currently seeking a Senior Director for Development & Philanthropy: Duties include:

  • Work collaboratively in support of the Lab's mission by leading and supervising all fundraising operations
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's senior management council
  • Prioritize and facilitate high and mid-level pipeline donor development, capital campaign management, planned giving, special gifts, and foundation and corporate relations
  • Oversee and supervise the annual fund and membership team
  • Set annual and long-term objectives in alignment with Lab's strategic initiatives
  • Advise Executive Director on key issues and take responsibility for all necessary details
  • Oversee the management and direction of the annual development and direct response budgets
  • Serve as a critical link between the Lab and Alumni Affairs and Development, plus other Cornell communities
  • The Lab currently has over 80,000 active donors and a strong opportunity for additional relationship cultivation due to the Lab's web presence with over 5.5 million web visitors per year.
  • Internalize the Lab's mission and strategic initiatives, to understand and strengthen all essential components of the Lab, which include research, extension, and education
  • Guide the vision and direction for all fund-raising initiatives for the Lab, a strong, mission-driven, not-for-profit organization
  • Provide direct supervision, direction, and mentorship to an agile staff to implement a broad range of objectives involving donor development, annual fundraising, and membership-recruitment
  • Manage the involvement of the Executive Director and other program directors with major donors and new prospects, and help prioritize travel schedules for development-related visits and events
  • Collaborate with the Executive Director and Cornell's Vice President and Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D) to set capital campaign and annual fundraising goals
  • Maintain strong and collaborative working relationships with the University's Division of Alumni Affairs and Development (AA&D), integrating efforts of the Lab with efforts of the Division
  • Provide leadership and guidance related to engagement and fundraising strategies within a milieu of many strong and entrepreneurial programs
  • Build and foster key partnerships with Lab program directors, other sectors of the university, CALS and with the Lab's Administrative Board with respect to non-academic matters and be charged with effectively communicating and collaborating with these units on campus to benefit the Lab
  • Play a leadership role in executing the Lab's Strategic Plan; identify innovative and effective strategies to support and sustain unique and non-traditional academic programs
  • Participate as a member of the Lab's management council which provides advice and counsel to the Executive Director.
Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's Degree with a minimum of 5-7 years of successful leadership experience in development and major gift cultivation or the equivalent combination of education, training and/or experience, involving not-for-profit organizations.
  • Exemplary interpersonal skills as well as outstanding oral and written communication skills are required.
  • Proven leadership and relationship management experience is required.
  • Must have demonstrated the ability to establish and maintain strong, collaborative working relationships with varied internal and external constituencies.
  • Must have proven supervisory experience, and ability to direct, manage and mentor a diverse team of professional staff.
  • Must be able to establish performance standards and manage staff performance.
  • Must create and maintain an atmosphere of confidentiality, where the staff, who will have access to and work with very personal and sensitive information, completely understand the University's and the Lab's confidentiality policies and procedures.
  • Must commit to travel on a regular basis, including some evenings and weekends, and must occasionally accommodate travel on short notice.
  • Must be exemplary in exercising sound judgment and the highest ethical standards.
  • Ability to deliver compelling and informative presentations to varied audiences, from hobby enthusiasts and Lab members to Administrative Board members and major donors.
  • Prior experience developing and managing annual and external vendor budgets.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Experience with growing, managing, and mining large databases of donors and potential donors strongly preferred; experience with use of social networking and Internet-driven strategies for growing lists of contacts and donors preferred.
  • Development experience within not-for-profit and/or academic institutions, including working with and communicating to supervisory Boards.
  • Familiarity or interest with biology, ecology, ornithology, nature, and/or conservation.
  • Experience with donors in informal and unconventional settings (i.e. field trips).
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite Applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), databases (Filemaker and Access), Blackbaud Razor's Edge, and Networked Information Systems (Peoplesoft).

Web Developer

Renowned as a center for bird study, science, technology, and outreach, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a vibrant unit of Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, but functions as an independent nonprofit environmental organization with more than 70,000 active members and donors. The Cornell Lab's All About Birds website receives more than 11 million unique visitors each year and serves as a major online publishing and lead generation platform for the Lab.

The Cornell Lab is seeking a talented and motivated Web Developer to join the Web Communications team. This unique opportunity will have responsibilities on several platforms from All About Birds to our Engaging Networks donations pages. Duties include:

  • Create innovative solutions in fundraising and public engagement on its various websites.
  • Work on All About Birds and other Web Communications projects.
  • Conceptualize, organize, implement, and provide growth of all programming systems for the Lab's Communications and Marketing team, including web applications, content management systems, server infrastructure, etc.
  • Collaborate with the designer to implement/update designs in WordPress and ASP.net sites.
  • Perform quality assurance based on existing procedures or project requirements.
  • Ensure cross-browser compatibility and mobile optimization for all projects.
  • Develop and implement DevOps scripts and procedures to increase deployment efficiency and consistency between server environments.
  • Create and maintain a consistent business layer standard so various Lab applications can share data and communicate with each other.
  • Experiment with hybrid app development.
  • Evaluate and recommend new technologies and techniques.
  • Work with Membership and Development to create user-friendly, mobile optimized financial transaction pages to increase financial support of the Cornell Lab.
  • Provide technical web and mobile assistance for a range of key initiatives with emphasis on efforts to meet the fundraising and communication goals for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  • Lead the functional and technical design, development, testing, integration, and ongoing support of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's donation pages and lead capture efforts.
  • Work will require a high level of face-to-face collaboration with Membership and Development staff, Communications staff, and our external fundraising partners.
Annual term appointment with possibility of renewal based upon performance and available funding. Applicants to provide cover letter, resume, contact information for 3 references.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree with up to two years relevant education or equivalent experience.
  • A thorough understanding of object-oriented programming and web applications is essential, as well as experience with the complete software development lifecycle.
  • Demonstrable experience in the following areas: 1) web application development using Asp.net, C#, Ruby, php, and other languages and frameworks; 2) interactive client-side website development – JavaScript, jQuery, AngularJS, HTML5/CSS; bootstrap or other responsive front-end frameworks, browser compatibility issues; 3) database-driven application development - MSSQL; object-relational mapping tools.
  • Good interpersonal skills and diplomacy required with a variety of domain experts, as well as the ability to help establish realistic goals and deliver work on schedule.
  • Must be self-motivated and able to work independently, and be equally capable of working with the supervisor to prioritize projects and to regularly communicate status and progress.
  • Ability to customize and maintain content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal, and experience in syndicating content to other websites with XML/APIs, etc.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Experience integrating remote applications and third party utilities with resident web applications.
  • Ability to translate design and functional requirements into technology and web design options.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in relational database design, conceiving and implementing ecommerce applications, resolving access and security issues, GUI, navigation and some web site design experience.
  • Familiarity with QA/QC conventions.
  • Ability to balance interesting design and innovation with usability.
  • Appreciation of and attention to usability and accessibility standards.
  • Demonstrated leadership ability in team environment.
  • Strong service orientation.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, multi-tasked, team-based environment.
  • Must be able to manage multiple competing deadlines and be able to prioritize work with minimal input from supervisor.
  • Ability to build working relationships to solve problems and achieve common goals.
  • Able to adapt to changing priorities, situations, and demands.
  • Quality assurance and customer-service experience.
  • Prior training experience; ability to express highly technical terms in layman's terms.
Preferred Qualifications:
  • Master's degree in computer or information science preferred.
  • Previous experience with content management systems and fundraising platforms such as Engaging Networks.
  • Experience in fundraising, advocacy, or marketing is highly desirable.
  • Familiarity with Adobe Photoshop is a plus.
  • Experience with Java, Oracle SQL, RESTful API, Ruby on Rails.
  • Prior experience working on computer software and collaborating with a team of programmers on software projects.
  • Proven experience writing application requirements, architecting applications, and documenting code.
  • Experience working as part of a team.
  • Experience with search engine optimization, website analytics, and optimizing content for mobile devices preferred.
  • Passion for conservation, nature, wildlife, and non-profit mission is desirable.

Internships

To apply for an internship, send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Most internships are unpaid but hours are flexible and course credit is possible. Minimum commitment is generally six hours per week. Cornell undergraduates are eligible to be considered for a limited number of paid internships each year. The Nancy Horton Bartels ‘48 Scholars gift supports Cornell undergraduate interns at the Lab during the summer. The Kristen Rupert and John Foote Undergraduate Research Fund supports the engagement of Cornell undergraduates at the Lab, with preference given to students involved in interdisciplinary projects with other colleges, departments, and units at Cornell.

Bartels Science Illustration Internships

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology will offer at least one paid Bartels Science Illustration Internship each year, lasting from three to six months, 39 hours per week. Recipients will work on a project illustrating birds, wildlife, and/or plants for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's print publications, outreach materials, and web sites. We are seeking students (artists just starting their career) at least 18 years old who have previous experience and exceptional talent in illustration, painting, or drawing who are interested in advancing their skills in ornithological art. Interns will work on projects that help the Lab achieve its mission, and these projects often result in publication of the intern's work. For more information, please download this file. You may also contact Diane Tessaglia-Hymes, design director, by email at dianeth@cornell.edu, or call 607-254-2417 (work) or 607-342-4811 (cell).

Scholarships

The Francis M. Peacock Scholarship for Native Bird Habitat provides financial aid to a college senior or graduate student to study areas in the United States that provide winter or summer habitat for our threatened or endangered native birds. The award is given by the Garden Club of America and is administered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. For more information about this scholarship and how to apply, see the proposal guidelines. If you wish to apply, you will also need to submit a personal information form.

The Walter E. Benning Fund provides scholarship assistance to a Cornell University graduate student studying ornithology and its relevance to conservation. The annual award is about $500. Apply by January 15 of every year by submitting a short (two page maximum) proposal describing your research, relevance to conservation, schedule of completion, and funding. Mail to Irby Lovette, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850

Volunteers

Interested in leading bird walks in Sapsucker Woods, helping in the visitors’ center at the Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity, or becoming a docent? For more information, please contact us at 254-2473 or (800) 843-2473.

Student Jobs

Working just a few hours a week provides you with a multitude of benefits. You will meet new people and adapt more quickly to your new environment. You will develop new skills and improve existing skills while building a network of contacts and good references that will ultimately increase your marketability for summer and post-Cornell jobs. Working part-time also helps improve your time-management skills. Not to mention you'll earn money to help cover some of your Cornell expenses!

To apply for the positions below, please send a cover letter and resume to the contact person listed. Full-time registered Cornell students are eligible to be considered for these positions.

Student Jobs

There are no open positions for student jobs at this time.
An interactive online course in Bird Behavior: Courtship and Rivalry from the Lab of Ornithology is newly available
Birds of North America Online, ultimate source for bird info, join for $5/month
Shop for our Causes, your purchase supports our mission
Get delicious, Bird Friendly certified coffee from Birds and Beans.