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.
The Western Solar Specialist (Specialist) works across regional and national divisions to help develop and implement AFT’s strategy at the intersection of solar energy generation and farmland conservation. The position will both advance specific national Smart Solar initiatives, and lead program development in the Western United States with an emphasis in the Pacific Northwest and California. The Specialist will collaborate closely with AFT regional teams, policy experts, and other staff to ensure that AFT’s programming is funded, strategic, synergistic, and impactful.
Reporting to the Pacific Northwest Regional Manager, the Specialist will play a leadership role in managing national Smart Solar projects and designing, securing funding for, and implementing Smart Solar projects in the Western United States. These projects will integrate solar energy development with agricultural land protection, regenerative farming practices, farm viability, land access, and other aspects of AFT’s programs.
The Specialist will work closely with AFT’s teams in the Pacific Northwest and California as well as with other regional Solar Specialists and staff engaged in policy, research, communications, and other programs across AFT.
What You’ll Be Working On
- Work thoughtfully and strategically across regional and national divisions to help formulate, align and maximize AFT’s strategies and tactics relative to solar energy development.
- Work in partnership with Regional Directors and their teams to help design, prioritize, fund, and implement Smart Solar programming in the Western regions.
- Collaborate closely with AFT Solar Specialists and other staff to align regional strategies, provide national thought leadership, and support Smart Solar program and policy development across the country.
- Collaborate with partner organizations, solar companies, land management agencies, tribes, researchers, and others to design, fund, and implement pilot projects that demonstrate the potential application for agrivoltaics.
- Manage partnerships with solar developers and other entities involved in Smart Solar projects.
- Monitor and track state and select local energy, land use and climate policies and proactively engage with state agencies, agricultural interests and other key AFT stakeholders to communicate policy impacts, benefits, and costs to farmers and farmland.
- Help cultivate significant relationships with government and foundation funders to assure sustainable funding for AFT’s Smart Solar programming and services.
- Communicate with stakeholders, funders, government organizations, the media, and the public about AFT’s work at the intersection of solar energy and agriculture.
- Cultivate significant relationships with industry leaders, trade associations, and others in the solar development community with a focus on increasing awareness of farmland conservation issues and building partnerships for research, policy, and AFT programs.
- Represent AFT in relevant stakeholder coalitions, state and regional working groups, and other public and collaborative processes related to solar energy.
- Deliver education to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural landowners about the risks, opportunities, and considerations associated with leasing land for solar energy.
- Collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to coordinate and deliver education for farmland protection professionals around the use of Smart Solar in multi-benefit land repurposing programs.
- Provide thought leadership and support to other AFT divisions outside of the Western regions as they seek to build capacity and explore policy priorities on solar.
The ideal candidate has a passion for collaboration, applied research, and solutions to tackle complex issues that include climate change, farmland protection, and solar energy development, and possesses:
- Demonstrated experience in and extensive understanding of solar energy development, ideally with expertise in public policy relative to solar energy development, including origination, permitting, community engagement, and awareness of related siting issues including land-use planning and farmland impacts.
- Familiarity with the state and regional policy landscape for solar development, agrivoltaics, and farmland protection across the Western regions.
- Technical understanding of solar energy development, ideally in the Western regions.
- Familiarity with agricultural systems, landscapes, and issues in the Pacific Northwest, California, and/or other parts of the West.
- Strong relationships with solar development community, agricultural and land conservation community, and other networks.
- Comfort interacting with diverse stakeholders including farmers, developers, advocates, agency staff, elected officials, and funders.
- Track record of translating ideas into action and action into impact by developing and implementing effective strategies, projects and programs.
- Excellent project management skills and experience working in diverse teams of colleagues, peers, and external partners.
- Lived experience with and/or demonstrated commitment to advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.
- Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as with cross-functional teams, and success in a position that worked across traditional reporting lines.
- Excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills with demonstrated public speaking skills.
- High levels of self-motivation with a demonstrated ability to work remotely.
- A Collaborative, professional, and innovative approach to tackling complex issues.
- Ability to thrive and deliver high quality outcomes in a dynamic, growing organization under time pressure.
- Must be based in the Western U.S, with a preference for candidates based in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or California.
Education & Experience
- A minimum of 7 years of combined related work experience in renewable energy development (preferably solar), fundraising, public policy, public administration, and/or program management.
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
American Farmland Trust pays salaries that are competitive with nonprofits of our budget size. Salary range is from $75,000 to $80,000.
Ready to apply? If this job sounds like a fit for you, then click on the ‘apply’ button below. Application review will begin November 21st; applications received before that date will be given priority.