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Leadership Institute

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Make an impact through the Leadership Institute

Taking on current and future challenges and opportunities across the global landscape requires a unique blend of scientific know-how and leadership. As a complement to strong disciplinary knowledge, leadership means working with people to solve problems, create opportunities, and move programs, organizations, and people forward.

The Leadership Institute equips our students with the skills and tools they need to solve critical problems facing society in the management and utilization of natural resources and in environmental stewardship. Once accepted, participants embark on a yearlong journey of leadership development and practice that includes two three-credit courses, an off-campus retreat, and a capstone team project. Students also take a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., and other locations to meet with leaders and policymakers from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private industries.

If you are a student and would like to apply, keep reading. If you are interested in supporting the Leadership Institute by hosting a future cohort or making a gift to support the ongoing learning activities, learn more about how you can make an impact.

What you’ll learn in the Leadership Institute

  • You'll learn about yourself, like how your personality type affects your interactions with others and how you process information and make decisions.
  • You'll learn how to develop and apply leadership skills by leveraging knowledge about your personality type in working with others, as well as by gaining insight on how effective leaders deal with change, teamwork, and conflict.
  • You'll be prepared to advance your career and make a positive impact on the environment by understanding the paths to leadership positions.
Students and a professor sit on benches in a circle around a campfire.

An interest session about the Leadership Institute will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Register for the session. Current participants and the instructor will be present to answer questions, talk more about what happens in the program, and explain the application process. Application materials are due no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, March 10, 2023. If you have specific questions, you can contact the program director, Brian Bond.

How to apply and start your leadership journey

Application materials are typically due in March, and an info session is also usually held that month. Check back for more details in 2025.

To apply, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a rising junior or senior in any major within the College of Natural Resources and Environment.
  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average at Virginia Tech of 3.0 or higher.
  • Have the desire to lead and make a difference in the conservation of natural resources and the environment.
  • Be able to attend both the fall retreat and the winter trip.
  • Submit an unofficial copy of your transcript, the names and contact info for three references, and a letter to Brian Bond, program director, in which you answer the following questions: (1) What does leadership mean to you? (2) Why do you want to join the institute, and what will you get out of the experience? (3) How will this experience benefit your career? (4) If accepted, what experience, knowledge, abilities, and/or unique qualities would you bring to the group? 

Required travel

Attendance is essential to participate in the Leadership Instutute. All expenses are covered for these trips.

  • CNRE Leadership Institute Fall Retreat: August 25-26, 2023
  • CNRE Leadership Institute Winter Trip: January 8-12, 2024. Travel to Charlottesville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.

We are grateful for your support of the Leadership Institute

CNRE’s Leadership Institute has been preparing the future leaders in conservation and sustainability since 2011, but we couldn’t do it without the help of our supporters.

Thanks to donors like you who have funded meals, lodging, and other travel expenses, participants have been able to make annual trips to Washington, D.C., and other locations to meet with business and agency leaders. Donors have also impacted student learning by supporting the fall retreat and the purchase of tools used to deepen student awareness such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument.

We also want to thank the professionals who have shared their knowledge, experience, and time with our students — your valuable contributions are the hallmark of this program.

If you would like to host the next generation of leaders at your agency or company, please contact Brian Bond, the program’s director, at If you would like to make a gift to support the Leadership Institute, please contact Andrew Ickes, assistant dean of advancement, at