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3 May 2023

Full-Time New England Soil Health Specialist

American Farmland Trust – Posted by Human Resources Massachusetts, United States

American Farmland Trust logo

Job Description

Who We Are

American Farmland Trust is a national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and helped thousands of farm families make a go of it (primarily through programs that increase farm viability and/or enhance farmland access). Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities.

We believe diversity drives innovation. We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental value and dignity of all our employees. We celebrate the unique traditions, heritages, and experiences our employees bring to the workplace. We are committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes and values diversity, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work every day. Please see AFT’s statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.

We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which we have facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

What You Will Do

As an integral part of our New England Climate and Agriculture team, the Soil Health Specialist will work primarily to implement farmer-focused education, outreach and research collaborations across New England within AFT’s portfolio of soil health, climate and regenerative agriculture related activities. This position is a good fit for someone who is as passionate about getting their boots dirty as they are about taking notes at farmer meetings and crafting practical resources for farmers. The scope of work for this position includes everything from soil sampling to event planning, crafting communication, organizing soil health data and facilitating farmer-to-farmer exchanges.

Reporting to New England’s Senior Manager for Climate and Agriculture, the ideal candidate is a team player who can successfully work closely with other staff on the 10 person New England Climate & Agriculture Team to ensure the success of direct technical assistance to producers, assist with the cultivation of farmer-to-farmer learning opportunities, help to develop and implement strategies to facilitate adoption of regenerative agriculture approaches on farmland, and assess conservation practice impacts through in-field data collection and analysis.

The New England Soil Health Specialist position is integral to current efforts of the American Farmland Trust to enhance the resilience of farms in New England to climate change. This includes a suite of initiatives that increase adoption of practices that mitigate greenhouse gases, strategies that enhance farm adaptation to climate impacts, and activities that build the capacity of the agricultural community to address other emerging challenges. The portfolio of work the Soil Health Specialist will work on includes projects designed within the NRCS conservation agriculture framework, as well as projects that utilize innovative approaches informed by agroecology, regenerative agriculture and ecosystem services. The Soil Health Specialist will leverage soil health as a foundational starting point for addressing climate change on farms by working directly with farmers, assessing soil health, providing outreach and education on soil health, and identifying opportunities for advancing adoption of soil health and agroecological practices.

Specific Responsibilities Include:

  • Field-based data gathering, including soil health assessment, soil sampling, and forage or biomass sampling, as well as the organized management of field data;
  • Assist with planning and delivery of workshops and other events that bring together farmers, landowners, technical support providers, and other stakeholders to identify, address, and develop solutions to barriers and challenges related to climate adaptation and healthy soils practices adoption;
  • Serve as a connecting point for local farmers and landowners with soil health and climate adaptation opportunities available from AFT and its partner organizations (including the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Northeast Organic Farming Organization state chapters, Conservation Districts, and others)
  • Develop and deliver outreach and educational events for farmers and other stakeholders in the region;
  • Provide research and data interpretation to create summaries, reports, fact sheets, and other materials that will inform farmers and the agricultural service provider community on challenges, needs and opportunities related to soil health and climate adaptation practice adoption;
  • Provide expertise in New England, within and outside of AFT, regarding soil health and opportunities for farmers to combat climate change;
  • Represent AFT at public meetings, field days, and educational events in the region; and
  • Support a strong team culture among AFT staff.

While this reflects the current job opportunity, the final scope of work may shift to reflect the skills of the new hire.

Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate:

  • The ideal candidate has a Bachelors’ degree in plant or soil sciences, agronomy, environmental science, or related field and 4+ years’ of experience in direct professional outreach or applied research relating to soil health, sustainable agriculture, conservation, agroecology, regenerative agriculture, climate change, ecology, water quality, or environmental analysis, including experience in field sampling, methods development, data collection and analysis, and writing for both scientific and lay audiences. A Masters’ degree in a related field may be substituted for up to 2 years of experience.
  • Knowledge of and experience working with soil health practices and their impacts on climate change mitigation, adaptation, water quality and environmental co-benefits.
  • Must be able to work independently, deliver high quality work in a dynamic organization under time pressure, and bring a collaborative, outgoing, professional, and innovative approach to tackling these issues.
  • Experience in soil sampling and soil health assessment. Direct professional experience working with farmers and landowners on soil health or regenerative agriculture is strongly preferred.
  • Experience planning events for agricultural audiences and knowledge of farmer networks and communication platforms preferred.
  • Comfortable translating complex scientific information to broad audiences; writing reports and presenting at scientific meetings, farmer/rancher focused workshops, policy makers, and conservation planner training events
  • Demonstrated project management skills, organizational skills, and experience working in diverse teams of individuals, peers, and partners.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with racially and ethnically diverse farming communities in an inclusive manner, including farms large or small; organic or conventional; urban or rural.
  • Experience with the Microsoft Office Suite is required – additional experience with statistical analysis software such as R, SAS, or SPSS is preferred.
  • Ability to help foster effective partnerships with diverse stakeholders including Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, USDA, state agency personnel, farmers, farm workers, and landowners is highly valuable.
  • Familiarity with NRCS conservation practices and a basic understanding of NRCS programs strongly preferred.
  • This position is part of AFT’s New England team, which is fully remote. Occasional travel to in-person staff meetings should be expected.
  • A willingness to travel across the New England region to visit farms and attend events is a must, including occasional overnight trips.

While not required, experience working in diverse agricultural systems; multi-lingual skills and cross-cultural experiences; working knowledge of key climate models and tools relevant to agriculture; experience working with carbon or other environmental service-based markets; and knowledge of current policies and programs supported at state and national levels as related to agriculture, soil health, and climate mitigation will be relevant and highly beneficial in this role.

Working Conditions:

This position involves field work (soil sampling and field assessments) on farms of various types and sizes and therefore has physical requirements that are specific to the performance of the job. When not in the field, this job operates primarily in a teleworking environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, and phones. Occasional work in the evenings or on weekends may be required to meet deadlines and/or participate in events.

Physical Requirements:

  • Ability to safely and successfully perform the essential job functions consistent with the ADA, FMLA and other federal, state and local standards, including meeting qualitative and/or quantitative productivity standards.
  • Ability to maintain regular, punctual attendance consistent with the ADA, FMLA and other federal, state, and local standards.
  • Must be able to remain in a stationary position 50% of the time.
  • Must be able to perform soil sampling, use relevant sampling equipment, and carry at least 30 lbs to and from farm field sites and lift samples into and out of a vehicle.
  • Must be able to perform fieldwork in inclement weather and move across the uneven terrain frequently found on New England farms. The person in this position frequently communicates with partners, stakeholders and staff who have inquiries and must be able to exchange accurate information in these situations.

American Farmland Trust provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the organization has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

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PI215260049

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Job Categories: Farming. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 40,000 - 60,000.

Job expires in 32 days.

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