Texas Smart Solar Specialist
Fully Remote Remote, TX
Description

About us

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 7 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.


Job purpose

American Farmland Trust's Farms Under Threat research reveals that Texas has the highest concentration of threatened agricultural land in America – without stronger farmland protection and land use planning, over 2 million acres of agricultural land are projected to be converted to commercial and residential development by 2040. Eight of the 12 counties in the nation projected to lose the most agricultural land to real estate development are in Texas.  AFT is building capacity to be a leader in protecting the working lands, farms, and ranches that are foundational to the Lone Star state’s agricultural economy and heritage.


Texas is the nation’s leader energy state, producing more oil, natural gas, and wind-powered electricity than any other state. Utility scale solar is rapidly expanding and Texas currently leads the nation in installed commercial solar capacity. (Texas installed nearly two times more utility-scale solar capacity in 2022 than California.)  With real estate development and energy infrastructure increasing pressures on the region’s most productive, versatile, and resilient farmland, the need for a coordinated effort between renewable energy development and protecting agricultural lands in Texas is clear.


The Texas Solar Specialist will work across regional and national divisions to help develop and implement AFT’s Smart Solar principles and strategies at the intersection of solar energy generation and farmland conservation. The position will both advance national Smart Solar and Farm Viability initiatives, and lead program development in Texas. The Specialist will collaborate closely with AFT’s national Smart Solar Initiative Director, regional teams, AFT’s policy, climate, and communications experts and other staff to ensure that AFT’s programming is funded, strategic, synergistic, and impactful.


Position summary

The Specialist will play a leadership role in developing and managing Smart Solar projects and technical support services for farmers and landowners, identifying key partners and collaborators, and leveraging funding to build AFT’s Smart Solar program in Texas. The Specialist will be a regional voice and trusted resource in strategies to integrate solar energy development with agricultural land protection, regenerative farming practices, farm viability, land access, and other aspects of AFT’s programs. Building on AFT’s Smart Solar leadership in other regions of the country, this is an exciting opportunity to shape and develop the foundation for AFT’s Smart Solar work in Texas as the Texas Regional team establishes and expands an impactful program in the state.  


The Specialist will be expected to build a presence across AFT’s Texas Region, collaborating with AFT regional Solar Specialists, technical assistance providers, researchers, consultants, agencies, and others engaged in solar land use policy, research, communications, and other programs across AFT.  


The Specialist will report to the Texas Regional Director. This is a full-time remote position based in Texas. 


Duties and responsibilities 

  • Work in partnership with the Regional Director, National Smart Solar Director, and others at AFT to design, prioritize, fund, and implement Smart Solar programming in the Texas region with a focus on advancing dual-use/agrivoltaics, and educating decision-makers on Smart Solar policy solutions and best practices. 
  • Work thoughtfully and strategically across AFT regional and national divisions to help formulate, align, and maximize strategies, policies, and tactics relative to solar energy in the context of advancing Smart Solar in Texas.
  • Cultivate significant relationships with solar, renewable energy and agricultural industry leaders, trade associations, and others in AFT’s growing Smart Solar network with a focus on increasing awareness of farmland conservation issues and building regional partnerships for research, policy, and AFT programs. 
  • Help cultivate significant relationships with government, foundation, individual funders, and potential corporate partners to assure sustainable funding for AFT’s Smart Solar programming and services in partnership with AFT’s fundraising teams. 
  • Represent AFT in relevant stakeholder coalitions, state and regional policy working groups, and other public and collaborative processes related to solar energy.  
  • Collaborate with organizations, solar companies, public agencies, researchers, and others to incentivize, support, fund, and implement pilot projects and/or demonstration sites that show and explain the potential for agrivoltaics. 
  • Analyze data, research and other information about trends and issues in solar energy in Texas establishing a baseline for current trends in solar energy developments in Texas. 
  • Conduct stakeholder interviews, group meetings, farmer/landowner surveys and other events or activities to understand concerns, goals, needed information and other factors around solar energy. 
  • Develop written summaries, factsheets or other materials identifying areas of opportunity for promoting agricultural land management and conservation benefits where solar energy is being developed. 
  • Promote soil health, best management practices and conservation practices as part of solar energy development, including agrivoltaic projects with viable integration of agricultural production and solar energy generation. 
  • Evaluate state policies and programs related to solar energy, agricultural land protection, resource conservation, and other factors, and proactively engage with relevant state agencies, agricultural interests, and other key AFT stakeholders to communicate policy impacts, benefits, and costs to farmers and ranchers. 
  • Communicate with stakeholders, funders, government organizations, the media, and the public about AFT’s regional work at the intersection of solar energy and agriculture. 
  • Share research, case studies, programs and policies and other resources with public agencies, producers, landowners, energy, and environmental stakeholders and others regarding strategies to facilitate solar energy development while protecting agricultural land and sustaining agricultural viability. 
  • Be familiar with and, as directed, assist in educating conservation and outreach specialists, other technical assistance providers, farmers, and ranchers about resources and funding opportunities for on-farm solar energy production primarily for on-farm use. 
Requirements
  • Must be outgoing, energetic, and passionate about advancing solutions to climate change, conserving farmland, and accelerating renewable energy development.
  • Familiarity with the state and regional policy landscape for solar development, climate smart agricultural practices, agrivoltaics, and farmland protection across Texas. 
  • Familiarity with agricultural systems, regenerative farming and grazing practices, and farm viability issues in Texas.  
  • Strong relationships with solar development community, agricultural and land conservation community, and other relevant networks preferred.
  • Experience and comfort interacting with diverse stakeholders including farmers, agricultural landowners, solar developers, advocates, agency staff, extension educators, elected officials, and funders.
  • Passion for collaboration, applied research, and solutions to tackle complex issues that include climate change, farmland protection, and solar energy development. 
  • 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. 
  • Technical understanding and awareness of the energy development community and related land use issues in Texas.  
  • 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.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as with cross-functional teams, and success in a position that worked across traditional reporting lines. 
  • Specialist should possess high levels of self-motivation with a demonstrated ability to work remotely.       
  • Excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills with demonstrated public speaking, media engagement and presentation skills.
  • A collaborative, professional, and innovative approach to tackling complex issues.
  • Ability to thrive and deliver high quality outcomes in a dynamic, growing organization often under time pressure.
  • Lived experience with and/or demonstrated commitment to advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. 

Education & Experience

5-7 years combined related education and work experience in energy development (preferably solar), agriculture, farmer support services, fundraising, public policy, public administration, and/or program management. Master’s level graduate degree in a relevant field is preferred.


Working Conditions

This job operates in a teleworking environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, and phones. Occasional work in the evenings or on weekends may be required to meet deadlines. 


Frequent travel throughout Texas is expected as the programming and services are developed, with some additional travel possible to attend national conferences, forums, and meetings in furtherance of national Smart Solar goals and objectives. Must be based in the Texas. 


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.  Please answer the screener questions and be sure to include a cover letter and resume to be considered.  Applications received by May 31, 2023 will be given priority consideration. 

Salary Description
$70,000 - $80,000