Hiring: Conservation Planner – Hampden-Hampshire Conservation District

Hampden-Hampshire Conservation District
Address:  195 Russell Street, Suite B6, Hadley, MA 01035
HHCD email:
HHCD voicemail: (413) 923-3238

Position Title: HHCD Conservation Planner                                      Position Type: Part-time 

About Hampden-Hampshire Conservation District:

Hampden-Hampshire Conservation District (HHCD) is a state-mandated agency whose mission is to support local agriculture and environmental sustainability in Hampden-Hampshire County through education and in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation District. The HHCD is governed by a board of elected volunteer members and is one of more than 3,000 conservation districts across the country. The HHCD received receives funding through grant opportunities to expand their programming and institute a new conservation program for local farmers. The HHCD is eager to hire an individual for the role of Conservation Planner.

 General Job Description

Over the 2 year contracted period, the HHCD Conservation planner is to develop and carry out a coordinated natural resources conservation program targeted to 12 land-owners/farmers who have already been identified through prior research as those who would best benefit from such plans to mitigate soil & water quality problems of the Mill River watershed, a tributary of the Connecticut River.

The HHCD Conservation planner will develop plans tailored to customer’s needs and meeting USDA and NRCS requirements within the assigned Service Area. Employee provides technical assistance to local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, government bodies, tribal entities, state and Federal agencies, private landowners (i.e. individual farmers and ranchers), and the general public in the development, application, and maintenance of coordinated natural resources conservation program.

The employee also supports Area-wide efforts to deliver consistent conservation technical assistance and Farm Bill Programs effectively and appropriately. The position requires knowledge of a wide variety of soil conservation, agronomic, engineering, hydrologic, biology, and forestry concepts, principles, practices, and methodology in order to independently resolve natural resource problems related to the implementation of soil and water conservation plans and provide area-wide technical assistance. The work of this position matches the series definition for work allocated to the GS- 0457 series as described in the Job Family Standard referenced above, i.e., positions that manage, supervise, lead, or perform professional work involving conserving soil, water, and related environmental resources to achieve sound land use. The basic title for positions in the GS-0457 Series is Soil Conservationist.

Major Duties 

  • Works with farmers and other landowners to develop conventional conservation plans addressing the resource concerns identified in the Mill river watershed; provides information concerning Farm Bill and State Conservation Programs; and develops conservation contracts according to the NRCS Conservation Program Contracting Manual with targeted landowners and farmers.
  • Performs on-site inventory and evaluations; recommends and assists in conducting necessary preliminary surveys; and provides recommendations for feasible practices to solve resource concerns.
  • Provides technical guidance and assistance to cooperating landowners in making needed revisions to their conservation plans and contracts.
  • Works with farmers and non-farming landowners, developers and their technical staff, planning commissions and others in the planning and application of land treatment measures.
  • Performs informational duties such as writing stories and news articles; giving talks at meetings; participating in conservation demonstrations; conducting conservation field tours; and staffing NRCS displays at various outreach events. Actively supports and participates in a broad spectrum of safety and health program activities as required.
  • Routinely complies with all appropriate safety and health rules and regulations in the performance of assigned tasks.

Implements Farm Bill Programs                                                                             (35%) 

  • Understands all applicable NRCS and Farm Bill programs available to address resource concerns and explains cost-share programs and payment procedures to applicants and contract holders engaged in the HHCD’s Mill River project.
  • Enters conservation planning data and applied practices into the HHCD Conservation District computer system and coordinates in reporting work completed in the NRCS reporting system. Utilizes available computer software programs as needed.
  • Fully utilizes web-based and computer programs in the documentation and management of conservation plans and technical assistance by the service center.
  • Utilizes current technology including electronic data collection and geographic information systems to perform duties.

Contract Review for Compliance with Schedules & Practice Requirements    (35%) 

  • Conducts regular follow-up on all scheduled practices assigned; develops operation and maintenance agreements for all structural practices planned and contracted.
  • Performs annual contract reviews on all assigned contracts to ensure contract schedules are followed and that practices are being maintained according to NRCS standards and specifications.
  • Recommends contract termination or cancellation when contracts are out of compliance and advises supervisor when practices are behind schedule.
  • Completes highly erodible land (HEL) and Wetland Determinations and annual Farm Service Agency (FSA) Compliance Checks for HEL and Wetlands.
  • Prepares all maps, form NRCS-CPA-026, determination letter and all supporting documentation for the District Conservationist to review.
  • Recommends site visits and schedules as necessary with the Soil Conservation Technician.

Collaboration, Communication & Educational Responsibilities                        (30%)

  • Writes news articles and stories, conducts tours, speaks to groups and collects pertinent information to be used to further agency programs.
  • Consistently communicates and treats customers (America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners, their representatives, visitors, and all USDA staff and leadership) in a courteous, tactful, and respectful manner. Provides customers with consistent information according to established policies and procedures.
  • Handles conflict and problems in dealing with the customer constructively and appropriately. Promotes and maintains liaisons with Federal, state, and local agencies and groups to carry out conservation management activities.
  • Works as needed with local, state and federal NRCS offices to conduct environmental education on natural resource issues, water quality, and general conservation at workshops, seminars, fairs, and/or assist the Conservation District staff in these activities.
  • Participates in meetings with HHCD Conservation District as well as the District and State Conservationist to coordinate work and prioritize where technical assistance will be provided. Communicates with federal, state, and local agency personnel involved in similar work to coordinate work and avoid duplication. Performs other related duties as assigned.

Other Position Factors:  Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights:

Actively supports the Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights Programs and assures the delivery of agency programs and services are carried out in accordance with policy and procedures without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status.

Safety and Health: Performs duties in a supportive manner of a safe and healthy work environment. The incumbent exercises caution and maintains all safety requirements when exposed to dangerous objects, chemicals, and extreme temperatures.

Condition of Employment: Motor vehicle operator: Must possess and maintain a valid state motor vehicle operator’s license for the type of vehicle(s) operated to perform the duties of this position. This may require the operation of a motor vehicle in both public and private roads during daylight hours and occasionally after dark.

Condition of Employment: The incumbent is required to begin the process of obtaining the Apprentice/Conservation Planning Certification in accordance with the guidelines in General Manual 180 Part 409.3. State specific supplement requirements, if issued, will apply.

  • The conservation planner will be required to attend Conservation Planning Boot Camp within 12 months of hire.
  • The conservation planner is required to establish a training schedule within the first 60 days with assistance from District and State Conservationist, using training information provided by the District and State Conservationist and that meets Certification ID: NRCS-CP-Certified requirements, and approved by the District and State Conservationist and the HHCD Conservation District.

 Required Experience & Skills

Knowledge of, and skill applying:

  1. The principles, concepts, methodology, and practices of soil conservation and related biological and physical sciences, and
  2. Pertinent engineering practices to: independently carry out recurring standard conservation planning assignments and develop conventional soil, water, and resource conservation plans for landowners, conservation groups, and units of local government involving a variety of soil patterns and conservation practices.
  3. Knowledge of soil properties and characteristics sufficient to interpret land use potential and deficiencies and advises landowners or agricultural operators of sound resource conservation techniques.
  4. Knowledge of federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to natural resource management. Knowledge of the requirements of various Farm Bills provided by the field office to advise agricultural producers and rural landowners on participation in Farm Bill conservation programs.
  5. Knowledge of agency policies, rules, regulations, procedural requirements, program forms, terminology and objectives in order to process and coordinate applications, payments and contracts for each of the various agency and partner programs Ability to communicate with others in order to: recommend alternative farming and ranching practices which preserve natural resources; explain agency program rules and regulations.
  6. Ability to operate computer and software programs to input and extract data.

Supervision, Reporting Structure, Planning and Resource Allocation

  1. The Conservation Planner will report directly to the HHCD Conservation District, in partnership with the HHCD Administrator. Both the District and State Conservationist will be available on a limited basis to provide advice and information when necessary.  It is essential that the HHCD Conservation Planner be able to operate independently and adhere to the completion of weekly & monthly objectives, which are to be detailed in daily logs and reported monthly to the HHCD Board.
  2. The Conservation Planner will develop, in conjunction with the HHCD board and the HHCD Administrator, a Plan of work with concrete assignments and objectives, in conformance with accepted policies and practices; adheres to instructions, policies, and guidelines to resolve commonly encountered work problems and deviations; and brings controversial information or findings to the supervisor’s attention for direction.
  3. Job performance will be reviewed for completed work in conformity with policy, the effectiveness of the employee’s approach to problem solving, technical soundness, adherence to deadlines, accomplishment of objectives;
  4. The incumbent locates and selects the appropriate and most up-to-date guidelines, references and procedures for application to specific cases. In situations where the existing guidelines cannot be applied directly or where judgment is required, the employee interprets and adapts the guidelines to determine which established alternatives to use. Information sources for guidance in developing a plan of work include:
    1. the HHCD’s annual business plan;
    2. USDA and NRCS technical guides, manuals, handbooks procedures, and directives;
    3. state office supplemental specifications;
    4. state and local environmental laws;
    5. professional journals;
    6. local ordinances and regulations.
  5. Resource planning assignments involve private landowners and require the interpretation of soil, water, and other environmental data to develop sound land use efforts. Different conservation methods, measures, and practices are applied to a variety of land units that are affected by a variety of natural resource conservation problems (i.e. soil erosion and water management/conservation).  In determining the necessary course of action, the incumbent considers:
    1. the value of various practices, the specific problems of the land-owner/farmer, environmental concerns, natural resource concerns, risk to the environment and local economy, and pertinent federal environmental regulations as well as state and local environmental laws.
    2. Assignments typically are performed by applying sound soil conservation methods and techniques which may be adapted by the soil conservationist to local conditions. The incumbent adapts established soil conservation methods and practices to local conditions when developing conservation plans for lands used for agricultural, recreational, commercial, residential, or community purposes.
  6. The purpose of the work is to advise and assist rural and community landowners (within the Mill River watershed) including conservation groups on the selection of conventional soil conservation measure and water management techniques to reduce erosion, siltation, water loss, and flood damage. The conservation planner interprets environmental data including soil characteristics which are essential in the formulation of sound conservation plans.  The work accomplished contributes to the completion of the annual plan of operations, leads to area wide reduction of soil erosion and water runoff, and favorably disposes landowners to accept advice from HHCD and NRCS.

Personal Contacts and Purpose of Contacts Level

Personal contacts include landowners, land users, co-workers at the field and state levels, members of the conservation district boards and district employees; representatives of other federal, state, county and municipal agencies; and media representatives. The purpose of contacts is to advise on the development of soil and water conservation measures, plan and coordinate the implementation of a range of technical practices and recommend alternative conservation solutions.

Physical Demands

Work requires regular and recurring physical exertion related to conservation work requiring walking on rough terrain, jumping ditches and furrows, or climbing steep banks.

 Work Environment

The planner may arrange to use office space at the NRCS office in Hadley, or choose to work at another location pending approval of the HHCD. The HHCD will provide a District laptop and printer for the planner’s use.

The Conservation planner will be exposed to agricultural equipment including tractors, caterpillars and a wide variety of attached implements such as cultivators, discs, plows, etc.  There may be exposure to snow and ice conditions and herbicide and chemical spray operations requiring safety precautions.  Protective gear and clothing such as a hard hat, boots and gloves may be necessary.

Educational Requirements

The ideal candidate will have at least a bachelor’s degree in a forestry or a related field, such as agricultural science, rangeland management, or environmental science and may be pursuing a Masters.  Educational qualifications that would contribute to a candidate’s readiness for the position would be some degree of completion of the NRCS training curriculum for a Conservationist planner.


  • Job Type: Part-time/contract – 25-30 Hours per week
  • Starting Pay: To be determined based on qualifications of applicant.
  • Applicant must have reliable access to transportation.
  • Benefits: Training will be provided at no cost to the incumbent in pursuit of the Conservation Planner Certification ID: NRCS-CP-Certified. In addition, occasional employer-funded professional development opportunities may also be provided.
  • Applicant chosen for this position must be able to travel overnight to attend a 3-week training course required for their NRCS Conservation Planning certification.
  • Applicants chosen for the position will be required to pass a background check
  • Applicant must generally be available for 1 monthly HHCD board meeting the 2nd Tuesday evening of the month, though the day of the meeting may be changed occasionally.

 To Apply:

To be considered for the position, email applications to  Include a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered.  All inquiries & materials submitted are confidential. Applications accepted until September 15, 2019, or until the position is filled. Please, no phone calls.

 EEO/AAP Statement:

Hampden-Hampshire Conservation District provides equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical disability, pregnancy, military or veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by state or federal law. This policy also prohibits employees from harassing any other employee for any reason including, but not limited to, race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disabled status.

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