Climate Change Technical Specialist

Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2020
 Full Time
 Large scale
 Agronomy & services
 Soil Health
 All - Ecosystem Services

Position Description

American Farmland Trust is the only 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. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. 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 supported thousands of farm families. Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities.

AFT is hiring a Climate Change Technical Specialist who will report to the Climate Initiative Director and work closely with the Water Quality Initiative Director and Regional Office Directors. We strongly encourage applications from women, people of color, and other historically disadvantaged groups, whose experience, and perspectives we believe are critical to the work of developing a more sustainable, resilient, and just agricultural system.

Position Overview

The Technical Specialist will help lead AFT’s efforts to provide the most up-to-date information about practices, policies, and programs by which the agricultural sector is a leading industry to combat climate change and build resilient agroecosystems. Through our research, outreach, and policy work, we will help farmers and ranchers improve farm viability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, and enhance environmental benefits while improving productivity for food, fiber, and biofuel stocks.

The Technical Specialist will report to one of AFT’s regional offices with the possibility of remote work for at least part-time. Full-time remote working is possible but is dependent upon the candidate and location. Must be able to travel occasionally (up to 25%) for meetings, farm visits, conferences, etc.

Duties & Responsibilities

The primary responsibilities of this position are to research and conduct modeling scenarios to quantify the impacts of agricultural management practices on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration potential. This will be used to develop a set of recommendations that will inform policy and program managers at state and national levels. Additional duties and responsibilities will include helping to develop new climate programming that supports other AFT program areas and its regional offices. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Conduct individual and team research to quantify the impacts of agricultural management practices on soil carbon sequestration potential and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Translate technical data and information on agriculture, soil health, and climate change topics into actionable reports, training materials, publications, and presentations to various audiences
  • Provide technical support using biogeochemical models and tools including Daycent, COMET-Farm, DNDC, and other tools/models as they estimate potential climate impacts at multiple scales through on-going research activities across the nation
  • Support AFT’s commitment to provide US Climate Alliance states technical assistance regarding the positive role that agriculture has in combating climate change
  • Synthesize current scientific literature exploring soil health management systems as directly related to increased C sequestration and GHG reductions
  • Help research, write, and edit white papers on technical options and tools for evaluating environmental, economic, and social outcomes of farm conservation practices
  • Work with Climate Initiative Director, other AFT program staff and the development team to raise funds for the initiative
  • Design, develop, and implement projects relating to climate change that align with AFT’s mission
  • Represent AFT at meetings and conferences related to climate change and agriculture
  • Work with Communications staff to develop fact sheets, press releases, social media posts, etc.
  • Support a strong team culture among AFT staff
  • Other duties as assigned


The Technical Specialist must be outgoing, energetic, and have direct professional experience working on agriculture and climate issues. The candidate must be able to work closely with farmers and agriculture organizations as well as environmental organizations, universities, and state/federal government agencies.

  • MS or PhD degree in agronomy, soil science, climate science, conservation, environmental science or similar field is required
  • Working knowledge and direct experience using climate models such as DNDC, Century, DAYCENT and tools such as COMET-Farm is required
  • Knowledgeable about climate change mitigation science with specific experience working with agronomic (including rangeland) systems and data
  • Knowledge of and experience working with soil health practices and their impacts on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and environmental co-benefits
  • Experience using GIS, R or other statistical software packages, and meta-data analysis
  • Experience synthesizing complex, ecological data sets, and compiling literature reviews
  • 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 and interpersonal skills
  • Must bring a collaborative, outgoing, professional, and innovative approach to tackling these issues
  • Ability to deliver high quality work in a dynamic organization with quick turnaround times
  • Ability to travel throughout country as needed (up to 25%).
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