Agricultural Outreach Specialist
Introduction: Three Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCDs) are working together to support an agricultural water quality staff position responsible for working with local farms to identify and address water quality concerns. The new staff member will focus on farms with animals, annual crops, and farm nutrient management.
Who we are: Vermont’s Natural Resource Conservation Districts (NRCDs) were established to protect and enhance the soil and water resources of the State by providing education, outreach, and implementation of best land stewardship practices in coordination with area towns and landowners. Each District has a 5-member board comprised of local landowners and promotes natural resources conservation through education, conservation programs, and technical services. Conservation Districts are an independent, non-regulatory subdivision of Vermont state government, which means that landowner engagement with the District is voluntary and incentive-based.
Job summary: The Southwest Districts (Poultney Mettowee (PMNRCD), Rutland (RNRCD), and Bennington (BCCD)) are looking for an experienced and enthusiastic individual to join our team. The ideal candidate will possess technical knowledge and work experience in agriculture and natural resources management to provide support to farmers and members of the public.
Tasks will include planning and holding workshops; preparing and distributing outreach materials; conducting farm field visits; assisting with Nutrient Management Plan development, implementation, and annual updates; and assisting with Best Management Practices identification, planning and implementation. Substantial on-the-job training will be provided. This position is grant funded and is under the general supervision of the District Managers of PMNRCD, RNRCD, and BCCD. The successful applicant will also work to increase Conservation District operational functions, financial sustainability, community engagement, and coordination with NRCS, VAAFM, UVM Extension, and other partners.
Minimum Qualifications: The qualified applicant will have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field and/or a combination of applicable work experience and education. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of current water quality issues in Vermont, preferably have hands-on experience working on farms, be familiar with agricultural equipment, and have excellent writing and map making skills (ArcMap preferred). Experience with grants administration and record keeping is ideal, but not required.
Wage, Benefits and Work Schedule: This is a non-salaried position starting at $20/hour, for roughly 30 - 40 hours a week. Once a six-month probationary period is completed benefits, including 10 paid holidays, paid sick leave and vacation, will be available. Additional benefits including a health care stipend are also available. This position is funded through grant sources and is an at-will position. The initial position is for two years. There is a possibility of extending this position for more years, depending on performance and funding.
Duties and Performance Requirements:
Required Agricultural Practices and Best Management Practices Education and Outreach
- Provide education and outreach to farms in Rutland and Bennington Counties related to RAPs and BMPs, including:
- providing farm-specific information on RAPs and BMP implementation opportunities
- sharing information about applicable VAAFM and partner cost-share programs
- developing outreach materials/methods such as workshops, flyers, newsletters, etc., to share information with local farms
- Visit farms and identify potential water quality concerns
- Research potential funding and/or BMP options and review appropriate solutions with the farmer
- Assist farmer in writing for funds and/or implementing the identified solutions
Nutrient Management Planning
- Provide field support to farms and partners and collect information needed to complete a Nutrient Management Plan.
- Assist farms and partners with completion of Nutrient Management Plans.
- Provide administrative and technical assistance to farms with existing UVM GoCropTM NMPs and assist farms with annual updates to their plans.
- Obtain appropriate certifications for nutrient management planning and attend appropriate continuing education offerings.
- Track progress in delivering technical assistance and conservation practice implementation.
- Assist with application and implementation of District grants.
- Collaborate with UVM Extension, VAAFM, NRCS, VTDEC staff, and other partners
- Perform additional, related responsibilities as need arises (this position will be supplemented with other grant work, some of which may include tree planting, report writing, data analysis, etc).
- Work will be approximately 50% field-based and 50% office-based.
Needed for Success:
- Strong customer service, interpersonal and public relations skills.
- Passionate about farming and natural resource conservation.
- Willingness to learn or experience in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and management programs including Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
- Familiar with relevant state, and federal programs, laws, standards and specifications.
- Comfortable being around livestock, farm equipment, driving on farm roads, being in remote farm fields/streams, and working independently in a rural setting in a variety of weather conditions.
- Skilled at organizing, planning, and presenting to citizen groups, organizations or committees.
- Ability to plan and carry out assignments independently, while meeting deadlines and managing time effectively.
- Grant and project management experience including ability to successfully apply for grants and report on deliverables.
- Working knowledge of watershed issues, non-point source pollution and remediation strategies.
- MUST be proficient in Microsoft programs, general social media, and computer use in a variety of applications.
- Knowledge of agriculture and farm technology.
- Experienced with study design and data tracking, monitoring, and analysis.
- Knowledge of agronomic principles, such as regional practices and procedures related to proper crop selection, crop rotations, nutrient management, utilizing manure nutrients and commercial fertilizers, etc.
The employee must be able to sit, stand, and walk in a variety of terrain. The employee is occasionally required to climb and kneel, crouch or crawl. The employee must be able to occasionally lift 50 pounds and to walk over rough fields and in streams, if necessary. Tree planting for several weeks in spring may be required and involves standing, digging, carrying water and tools, etc.
An office will be provided in Poultney, Vermont, with some time for work with partners at their locations in Rutland and Bennington. A laptop will be provided. A phone or some consideration of a stipend for a phone may be discussed.
The job requires use of a private vehicle that is in good shape, can haul materials, and can drive over rough ground. Mileage is reimbursed at the Federal rate.
How to Apply:
Please apply by emailing the BCCD District Manager, Katy Crumley, email@example.com. Include a cover letter, resume, and three references. There will be a 180-day probationary period for this position. The application deadline is rolling until the position is filled. This position was posted on September 20, 2021.