Full-Time Apprentice Farm Conservation Planner
Employment Status: Full-time, Salary, Exempt
Salary Range: $40,000 – $50,000/yr, based on education and experience
Hours: 40 hours/week, Mon-Fri, 8:00am-4:30pm
Location: Holden, MA – NRCS Central Massachusetts Field Office
Posting Date: April 22, 2022
Closing Date: May 20, 2022 (or until position filled)
Position: The Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts (MACD), in partnership with American Farmland Trust (AFT), is seeking qualified candidates for a full-time position as Apprentice Farm Conservation Planner, to be based out of the Central Massachusetts NRCS Field Office in Holden. The selected applicant will work closely with the NRCS District Conservationists in delivering Technical Assistance to Worcester, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. (Background investigation and USDA identification card will be required.)
Description: To help make agriculture in Massachusetts more sustainable and viable, MACD and AFT are working with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide direct technical and financial assistance to farmers and other landowners. As a part of this joint effort, several Farm Conservation Planners are assisting with the delivery of NRCS conservation planning and implementation. These individuals use their prior education, working knowledge, and on-the-job training in farming, agronomy, and soil conservation to work directly with farmers to plan and implement conservation practices on farms across the Commonwealth.
Training from NRCS and AFT will provide the opportunity for the Apprentice Farm Conservation Planner to work toward becoming a Certified Conservation Planner with NRCS.
The position open at this time is for a full-time regular employee of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts (MACD). This position will be based in the NRCS Field Office in Holden MA and serves Worcester, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. Apprentice Planners will work under the day-to-day direction and support of an NRCS District Conservationist. Occasional travel to other regions of the state may be required.
The primary responsibilities of this position are to carry out coordinated soil and water conservation planning and outreach and to assist with the delivery of NRCS farm assistance programs. Planners must have the ability and willingness to work closely with NRCS, undergoing significant on-the-job training to learn NRCS programs and protocols to ensure successful implementation of conservation practices in Massachusetts.
Job Duties and Responsibilities:
- Assist landowners in the identification of specific federal and state programs designed to promote the viability, conservation, and management of land use for food and fiber production or the preservation of natural resources.
- Work with farmers and landowners in the selection and application of suitable soil and water conservation practices as needed to address individual resource concerns.
- Receive referrals, contact farmers, and make conservation planning field visits.
- Furnish necessary planning assistance resulting in conservation plans that document farmer/landowner decisions.
- Aid in the layout and installation of agricultural “best management practices” and help check on completed practices.
- Update a Conservation Toolkit database with Farm Bill program information, applicant files, eligible practices, cost lists, and contract details.
- Enter conservation plan data into the Toolkit for program applications and contracts.
- Develop and compile conservation planning maps for applicants and contracts.
- Maintain program contract file folders.
- Assist field office staff with contacting program applicants for data collection.
- Compile data for input into nutrient and pest management components of conservation plans for program applicants and contracts for certification.
- Assist in maintaining workload registers with information from contracts for needed follow-up, and in carrying out some basic functions of the follow-up schedule.
- Establish and maintain program files and documents for program delivery and documentation.
- Maintain mailing and contact lists for program delivery.
- Attend program-related meetings to gather data and record information.
- Assist with a targeted outreach campaign for marketing Farm Bill programs. Work with NRCS Public Affairs Specialist in developing needed brochures and other outreach information. Assist with meeting notices, letters, printing, copying, mailings, etc. for program delivery.
- Maintain records of work accomplishments for reports relative to all agricultural programs.
- Participate in trainings that build towards certification as a Conservation Planner.
Skills and Qualifications:
- Must have EITHER strong background in agriculture, conservation, soil science, or environmental science (with at least 3 credits of college-level soil science) as well as at least 3 years’ experience in the application of techniques, principles, and methods from a variety of agricultural and natural resource fields – OR a degree in soil conservation, agronomy, soil science, agriculture, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering, or a similar degree with a significant focus on agricultural production.
- Experience with livestock preferred (though not essential).
- Must be comfortable working in an office as well as in the field, interacting directly with farmers and other landowners.
- Computer competency in Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams).
- GIS experience with layered reference material.
- Experience with GPS, surveying, and/or construction measurement.
- Good communicator (verbal and written), with strong interpersonal skills.