Hiring: Farm Conservation Planner – American Farmland Trust
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. Learn more at
To increase on-farm conservation of important natural resources, AFT is working with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to increase capacity for conservation planning throughout Massachusetts. As Farm Conservation Planners (Planners) working for AFT as a part of its Furthering Agricultural Conservation Planning project the Planners will provide assistance to farmers, forestland owners and other landowners, governments, and other groups of decision-makers to voluntarily conserve, maintain, and improve natural resources such as the soil and water on their land and on lands they manage or influence. Planners will use their working knowledge of farming, agronomy, forestry, and/or wildlife biology to work directly with the target audiences to plan and implement conservation practices on their land.
While full-time regular positions with AFT’s New England Regional Office, Planners will be focused on serving specific areas of the state, will be based out of one of the following Massachusetts NRCS Field Offices: Wareham; Holden; Hadley; Greenfield; or Pittsfield, and will be under the day to day supervision of a NRCS District Conservationist. Travel to other regions of the state may be required from time to time.
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, & 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 conservation Toolkit database with farm bill program information, applicant files, eligible practices, cost lists and contract details.
- Enter conservation plan data into 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.
- Perform other duties as assigned.
The Farm Conservation Planners must be comfortable working both at a desk and in the field on farms directly with farmers, other landowners, and individuals. They must EITHER:
- Have a strong background in agriculture, conservation, soil science, or environmental science, at least 3 credits of college-level soil science, and experience that included the application of techniques, principles, and methods from a variety of agricultural and natural resource fields,
- Have a degree in soil conservation or related agricultural or natural resource disciplines such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering. The degree 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 3 semester hours must have been in soils and 3 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 and desired attributes of the ideal candidate will 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.
Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and background. AFT offers a full benefits package. These positions are currently funded under a two-year cooperative agreement with NRCS. While we expect the program to continue beyond that time, employment is subject to available funding.
Please submit a cover letter with resume to be considered.
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.