American Farmland Trust (AFT) is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. AFT’s innovative work led to a national movement to save the land that sustains us. No Farms, No Food. Since 1980, American Farmland Trust has helped to permanently protect more than six and one half million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. Learn more at www.farmland.org.
To help make Massachusetts agriculture more sustainable and viable, AFT is working with 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, AFT has five Farm Conservation Planners working directly with USDA NRCS in various parts of Massachusetts to assist with the delivery of NRCS conservation planning and financial assistance. AFT is now expanding the program with two more Planners. These individuals, once hired, will use their prior education, working knowledge, and on the job training of farming and agronomy to work directly with target audiences to plan and implement conservation practices on farms across Massachusetts.
While these are full-time regular positions with AFT’s New England Regional Office, Planners are focused on serving specific areas of the state. AFT is hiring for two positions at this time, one to be based in the MA NRCS Field Office in Wareham serving south eastern Massachusetts, and one to be based the MA NRCS Field Office in Pittsfield serving Western Massachusetts, primarily Berkshire County. These Planners will work under the day-to-day direction of a NRCS District Conservationist. Travel to other regions of the state may be required from time to time.
The ideal candidate will have had prior work experience providing direct technical assistance to farmers or landowners, or will have had direct experience in production agriculture themselves. They will be able to meet farmers and landowners where they are, and through dialogue and learning identify opportunities where conservation practices can help address challenges faced by those farmers, and landowners while also improving their communities.
Duties and Responsibilities:
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 USDA NRCS farm assistance programs. First and foremost, Planners must have the ability and a willingness to learn NRCS programs and protocols, and work closely with NRCS staff daily to ensure successful implementation of conservation practices in Massachusetts.
Specific additional responsibilities include:
- Assist landowners in the identification of specific federal and state programs designed to assist in 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 field conservation planning visits.
- Furnish necessary planning assistance resulting in a conservation plan that documents farmer/landowner decisions.
- Aid in the layout & installation of practices and in checking 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.
The Farm Conservation Planners must be comfortable working both at a desk and in the field on farms directly with farmers and other landowners and individuals. They must EITHER:
- Have a strong background in agriculture, conservation, soil science, or environmental science with at least three credits of college-level soil science, and at least three years’ experience that includes the application of techniques, principles, and methods from a variety of agricultural and natural resource fields. OR
- Have a degree in soil conservation, agronomy, soil science, agriculture, agricultural education, agricultural engineering, or a similar degree that has had a significant focus on agricultural production. The study must have included 30 semester hours in a natural resource or agricultural field, including at least 12 semester hours in a combination of soils and crops or plant science. Of the 12 semester hours, a minimum of three semester hours must have been in soils and three semester hours in crops or plant science.
- Familiarity with federal and state policies and programs to assist in the viability of food and fiber production and implementation of conservation for the management of natural resources should be highlighted in the resume.
Other required skills include:
- Ability to produce work products using computers and MS Office applications.
- Skill in organizational and administrative tasks.
- Skill in both oral and written communication.
- Perform duties in a professional manner.
- Perform other related duties and activities as assigned.
- Ability to work well with others, individually and in groups.
- Knowledge of equal opportunity and civil rights requirements of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Employment Act, the willingness and ability to provide assistance to deliver programs and services that are carried out without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, physical/mental disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status, and maintain a positive regard for civil rights in all interactions with clients and others.
- Possessing a valid driver’s license and a working motor vehicle for use during performance of duties (where necessary, mileage reimbursement will be provided).
- The ability to meet the qualifications necessary to obtain a federal security clearance for working in close alignment with NRCS, including, but not limited to, fingerprinting and a background check.