The small state capital was rich with people who shared her zeal for advocacy and fundraising.”
Senior Development Director, National Wildlife Federation
Megan Wenrich looks back on her career as “one big evolution” that began with an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and biology.
Early on, she knew she wanted to work close to the environment. She started out as a volunteer in South Carolina for both the Coastal Conservation League and the Sierra Club, where she soon found herself on the club’s board of directors.
“I realized, ‘This is what I want to do, and I want to get paid to do this!’” she recalls. It was seemingly the eureka moment in her personal evolution, soon followed by the realization that she needed more “employable skills.”
As she considered law school, Wenrich knew she didn’t want to litigate, and she only needed a subset of the skills that a JD would provide. When she learned of the MELP option, she knew it was the right fit.
Wenrich chose to live in Montpelier during her year of studies at VLS. It was another right fit.
“I was pretty plugged in to the nonprofits there,” she says, noting that the small state capital was rich with people who shared her zeal for advocacy and fundraising.
In the years that followed, Wenrich strung together an impressive list of fellowships and institute work while holding down full-time (and paid) positions, first as an advocate for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group and later as legislative and policy coordinator at the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
Moving on to serve as development director at Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, she led a $3.7 million capital campaign and laid the groundwork for her current position with NWF, where she heads up the major gifts program and directs six gift officers for the conservation group, which boasts more than four million members, partners, and supporters.
It is another right fit in Wenrich’s big evolution, a fit that keeps her close to the environment and getting paid to do what she loves doing.
It all hit home for Wenrich when she recently traveled to Greenland with a dozen NWF donors and board members to view, up close, the effects of climate change.
“I’m pretty studied on global warming, but it is easy to separate your heart from your mind,” she says. “Seeing the impact really got my heart in the game. It helped me see how imminent the threat is.”