Description of the organization you are joining:
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.
Description of the focus area you will work in:
Agriculture is a rewarding, yet risky business. In this nation’s short history, farmers and ranchers have experienced booms and busts, revolutions and crises, periods of high and low prices. Farming and ranching families ride the ups and downs, for the love of the work, the land, the animals, and their community. It is a hard life, but they enjoy it and all to the benefit of we the people. But, they do it for more than just the love – they also need to make a living, and achieve a quality of life worthy of their commitment and work.
AFT’s mission – to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, helping to implement environmentally sound practices and keeping farmers on the land – has never been more urgent or relevant. You will join a team who drive forward efforts to support the ability of farmers and ranchers to earn a living from the land and achieve their business, personal, and family goals in agriculture. You will work together with other experts from across AFT to advance Smart Solar.
The Department of Energy estimates we need more than 10 million acres to scale up solar energy by 2050, and AFT projects over 80 percent could be sited on agricultural lands. This growth will create incredible opportunities, but it also threatens farm and ranch land, and the conflict between using land to grow food and using it to produce energy is already generating public backlash against renewable energy deployment overall. America needs both—renewable energy and productive, resilient farms and ranches. Smart Solar can be the solution. Smart Solar refers to solar projects that meet three main, equally important goals: (1) accelerating solar energy development, (2) strengthening farm viability, and (3) safeguarding land well-suited for farming and ranching. Combining agriculture and solar on the same piece of land is a powerful component of Smart Solar if agrivoltaics can be shown to work for farmers, the solar industry, and communities.
Agrivoltaics is still a nascent business model. Based on data collected so far by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, there are over 2.8 GW of dual-use sites (of which agrivoltaics is one type) in the U.S., the majority of which involve sheep grazing and/or pollinator habitat. Growing crops under solar panels has been largely confined to research test plots, though this is beginning to change. At least five commercial solar-crop sites are operating in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Maine and many more are on the way.
The purpose of the job you will be doing:
The purpose of the Sr. Agrivoltaics Specialist (Sr. Specialist) is to advance agrivoltaics as a solution to land use conflicts between renewable energy development and agriculture within the context of American Farmland Trust’s Smart Solar Principles (AFT’s SS Principles).
A summary of the position:
The Sr. Specialist is an integral part of the AFT’s Programs team, reports to the Smart Solar Director and works most closely with the Smart Solar Team and various regional program teams. The Sr. Specialist will develop and advance compelling and informative resources for farmers, ranchers, landowners, policy makers, renewable energy developers and the land trust community about agrivoltaics. The Sr. Specialist will play an important role in advancing workforce developments efforts at AFT relative to agrivoltaic sites, especially in support of new and beginning farmers, and other historically underserved producers. While they will act primarily as an advisor, thought leader, educator, and evangelist for agrivoltaics, in limited high impact circumstances they will assist with the technical review, design and advancement of specific agrivoltaic projects, including potentially high-profile projects that involve AFT as an originator, easement holder, landowner, or other project partner.
Duties and responsibilities of the position
- Maintain a high level of familiarity with the latest advances relative to agrivoltaics, both in the field at scale, and within the research community.
- Maintain a high level of familiarity with current state of research, policy innovation and technological advancements in the solar-water-land-food nexus, including awareness of existing and emerging demonstrations of agrivoltaic projects, including behind the meter, community scale and utility scale systems
- Through partnerships and networks, both formal and informal, assemble a suite of existing, and in development agrivoltaic projects that serve to educate and demonstrate the feasibility of agrivoltaics to developers, policy makers, landowners, farmers, and other stakeholders.
- Provide business technical assistance by both lead, and support the development of, programming that engages farmers in workforce development, supporting them in assessing, accessing and successfully farming on agrivoltaic sites.
- Develop and/or utilize and communicate financial models for agrivoltaic and non agrivoltaic projects. For example, NREL PV Watts calculator: https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/pvwatts.php, NREL InSPIRE calculator: https://openei.org/wiki/InSPIRE/Financial_Calculator
- With support from other AFT staff, develop case studies and other content that demonstrate the land use, agronomics, animal husbandry, engineering, and financial aspects of existing and hypothetical agrivoltaic solar projects.
- Working closely with other members of the Smart Solar Team, and AFT’s national and regional communications staff and other program staff, support the direct delivery and broad dissemination of agrivoltaics information, farmer experiences, technical analysis, and other relevant content through a variety of established and nascent AFT communications channels (social media, earned media, newsletters, existing networks and websites etc.)
- Be a national spokesperson for AFT to industry, researchers, policy makers, farmers, ranchers, and other landowners, delivering content relative to agrivoltaics.
- Working with AFT’s development team and other colleagues, both lead & support funding proposals that advance agrivoltaics demonstration and education.
- Support AFT’s policy staff in advancing national and state Smart Solar policies.
General qualifications for the position:
- Must understand the complex ecosystems of agricultural operations and solar arrays, and how the two can work together in symbiosis.
- Must be comfortable with financial modeling, including use of discounted cash flow and Net Present Value calculations, to estimate and communicate the financial benefits to farmers and profitability of agrivoltaic /dual use solar projects.
- Must be an ambitious self-starter who can take a set of goals or objectives and run with them, developing a plan to complete the work, checking in at appropriate intervals, and delivering a high-quality work product at the end.
- Must be a strong team player who can lead in their focus area, but also act together within a close-knit team to advance the aggregate work.
- Must have strong written and verbal communication skills and exceptional presentation and public speaking skills.
- Must be able to work in an environment with both long-term and short-term objectives, be able to handle multiple tasks with sometimes shifting deadlines, meet tight deadlines and work without significant supervision once tasks are defined.
- Must be able to work with a diverse mix of stakeholders and partners such as farmers, ranchers, landowners, policy makers, renewable energy developers, investors, researchers, and more.
Education & Experience necessary for the position:
- 8+ years of relevant experience in solar energy research, development, or siting and/or farming and ranching, with at least 1 year of experience engaged directly in agrivoltaics, or 3+ years of experience in agrivoltaics.
- While an advanced degree in a related field, or with a related concentration such as renewable energy, environmental science, engineering, policy, communications or agriculture is preferred, consideration will be given to candidates who instead, or additionally, have lived experience and demonstrated impact that is highly aligned with the job purpose, duties and qualifications stated above.
Working conditions for the position
This job operates in a teleworking environment and routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers and phones. Work in the evenings or on weekends will be required to meet with outreach and education target audiences and meet deadlines. Because of this, there is the ability to flex work hours where required to meet program objectives.
Anticipated travel for the position:
Overnight travel may be required (8-15 times/year) to meetings and conferences to engage with desired audiences. Up to 15%
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 that clearly demonstrate you have the general qualifications and meet the education and experience framework laid out above if you wish to be considered for this position. Complete Applications with cover letters and resumes received by June 12th will be given first consideration.
Salary range for the position:
$80,000-$90000 per year, depending on qualifications.