Apprentice Farm Conservation Planner @ American Farmland Trust

Apprentice Farm Conservation Planner


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. 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 helped thousands of farm families make a go of it (primarily through programs that increase farm viability and/or enhance farmland access). Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture's most pressing needs and opportunities.

We believe diversity drives innovation. We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental value and dignity of all our employees. We celebrate the unique traditions, heritages, and experiences our employees bring to the workplace. We are committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes and values diversity, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work every day.

We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, 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 we have 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.

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 6 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. These individuals, use their prior education, working knowledge, and on the job training in farming, agronomy, and farm conservation to work directly with target audiences to plan and implement conservation practices on farms across Massachusetts.

Training from NRCS and AFT will provide the opportunity for the Apprentice Farm Conservation Planner to become a certified conservation planner with NRCS.

What You will Be Working On

While these are full-time regular positions with AFT's New England Regional Office, Planners are focused on serving specific areas of the state. The position open at this time, is based in the MA NRCS Field Office in Wareham and serves southeastern Massachusetts. The Planner 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 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 work closely with NRCS, to learn their programs and protocols and work closely with their 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 conservation plans that document 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 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.

Education and Experience

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. Additionally, they must EITHER:

  • Have a strong background in agriculture, conservation, soil science, or environmental science with at least 3 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 3 semester hours must have been in soils and 3 semester hours in crops or plant science.

Other Skills & Knowledge

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 aid delivery of 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.
  • Possess 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 an ongoing cooperative agreement with NRCS. While we expect the program to continue without a specific end time, employment is subject to available funding.


While AFT will accept applications until the position is filled, applicants who submit a resume and cover letter by prior to August 9th will be given preferred consideration.

Why you should apply

  • Be a part of a purpose-driven, committed, knowledgeable, high-performing, experienced and fun team
  • A diverse and inclusive work environment
  • A cause and mission you can be proud of
  • Competitive compensation & Benefits
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Flexible scheduling

Ready to apply? If this job sounds like a fit for you, then click on the 'apply' button below.

Apply Here


45000 - 52000


Wareham, MA, USA




2021-08-03 00:00