Midwest Solar Specialist
Fully Remote Remote, Midwest (IL, IN, IA)

Who We Are

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. 

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 that drives 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 with other experts 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 a 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. 

The Midwest Solar Specialist position offers an exciting opportunity to help carry out the strategic agenda of a growing, forward-looking conservation organization. S/he will be able to work across teams within AFT’s Midwest Region and with external partners, including farmers, landowners, and agricultural professionals. This is a permanent position that will work to support and build upon AFT programs in the Midwest. 

We believe diversity drives innovation. We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental values 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, where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work daily.

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 where 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.


Reporting to the Midwest Regional Director, the Midwest Solar Specialist works across regional and national programs to help set and implement AFT’s strategy at the intersection of solar energy generation and farmland conservation (Solar), primarily focusing on Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.  The Specialist will be an integral part of a rapidly growing team across AFT working on Smart Solar Siting with the support of National and Regional experts. The Specialist will also collaborate and coordinate with other staff to help ensure that AFT’s programming in the Midwest is funded, strategic, synergistic, efficiently delivered, well-received, and impactful while supporting AFT’s smart solar siting efforts in other regions of the country.  

What You’ll Be Working On

AFT seeks to accelerate the pace of solar development while protecting the most productive, versatile, and resilient farmland while expanding economic opportunities compatible with agriculture through appropriate siting, dual-use or other means. As an integral part of the AFT Programs team, the Solar Specialist will:

  • Work closely with Midwest Regional staff and National Smart Solar staff to chart AFT’s response to the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid growth in solar development across the Midwest. 
  • Design, secure funding for, and implement AFT’s Smart Solar programs in the Midwest with assistance from the National Solar team. 
  • Provide input from regional meetings and experiences to AFT staff on Solar issues in the Midwest with a focus on program development, funding, and policy.
  • Provide input to regional and national policy staff to help further Solar policy objectives at the Midwest and national levels based on your work and interactions in the field.
  • Foster external collaboration across diverse sectors, including agriculture, environment, energy, local governments, and others, to accelerate solar siting while sustaining opportunities for agriculture and other goals.
  • Continue cultivating new and existing relationships with corporate, government and foundation funders to ensure sustainable funding for Solar programs.
  • Effectively communicate with stakeholders, funders, government organizations, and the public about AFT’s work as a leader in the intersection of solar energy and agriculture.
  • Build out Regional policy work with the help of the Midwest Policy Director
  • Lead collaborative Smart Solar working groups in IL, IA and IN
  • Host and participate in Webinars around topics such as: Solar lease navigation, Agrivoltaic crop selection, Total crop plans for developers, Ideal designs for Agrivoltaics.

Desired Qualifications 

The ideal candidate is outgoing, energetic, and passionate about combatting climate change, conserving farmland, and accelerating renewable energy development, and has: 

  • A deep and extensive understanding of the solar energy development community, ideally with a strong focus on public policy relative to solar energy development and siting, including the land-use and conservation impacts.
  • Familiarity with the policy landscape for solar energy generation and siting across the Midwest, in other states, and at the federal level.
  • Strong and positive relationships with policymakers relevant to AFT’s Solar work in multiple states in the Midwest. 
  • Solid relationships with government and foundation funders who will likely fund Solar programming.
  • A technical understanding of solar energy development.
  • Professional or personal experience in the agriculture industry. 
  • The ability to interact comfortably with farmers, developers, advocates, policymakers and funders. 
  • A work history of developing and implementing effective programs and projects.    
  • Project management skills and experience working in diverse teams of individuals, peers, and partners.  
  • A demonstrated commitment to advancing issues of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within a workplace or a primary area of professional focus.
  • Demonstrated experience and success in a position that worked across traditional reporting lines.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills with a record of public speaking engagement.  
  • Strong interpersonal skills.   
  • A collaborative, outgoing, professional, and innovative approach to tackling issues.  
  • The ability to deliver high-quality work in a dynamic organization under time pressure. 

Education & Experience

  • A minimum of 2 years work experience in a role within the solar energy development community with a primary focus on public policy, community engagement, or solar siting issues. An advanced degree in a related field may be substituted for work experience. 
  • A minimum of 3 years of combined related work experience in renewable energy development, fundraising, public policy, public administration, or program management.


American Farmland Trust pays competitive salaries to nonprofits of our budget size and offers meaningful vacation, medical, retirement and other benefits. Salary ranges from $65,000 to $70,000. Salary is negotiable based on experience. 

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.

Salary Description
$65,000 - $70,000