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, including the transition to regenerative agriculture and agricultural solutions to climate change.
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.
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Reporting to the Climate Initiative Director, the Senior Climate Change and Soil Health Scientist supports AFT’s national Farmers Combat Climate Change Initiative (Climate Initiative), which aims to catalyze widespread adoption of regenerative farming and ranching practices that rebuild soil health, sequester carbon, minimize GHG emissions, and promote agricultural resiliency to climate change.
As an integral part of the AFT Program Team and the Climate Initiative, this Senior Climate Change and Soil Health Scientist leads program modeling, data analysis, and other research efforts, with the ultimate aim of advancing practice adoption and supporting policy advocacy, communications, and related efforts. Current Climate Initiative projects that require modeling and data analysis expertise include: quantification of agriculture’s greenhouse gas reduction potential, including by using and improving AFT’s CaRPE Tool to provide national, state, and local carbon sequestration potential estimates; designing a path to agricultural climate neutrality or better via life cycle analysis, biogeochemical models, and other approaches; analyzing data from on-farm soil health trials; and providing technical input for policy guidance at the state and federal level, including as a U.S. Climate Alliance Impact Partner.
Future goals are to include cross-organizational collaborative endeavors to develop decision support tools for farmers/ranchers/agricultural advisors that facilitate successful adoption of diverse, resilient, regenerative and soil health promoting agricultural systems.
While this position can be accomplished remotely from any home office, AFT will work with the successful candidate on co-location at a university, regional AFT office, or other similar arrangement if desired.
What You’ll Be Working On
- Conduct applied research that supports the Climate Initiative’s long-term vision and strategy to catalyze widespread adoption of regenerative farming and ranching practices via modeling, life cycle analysis, and data analysis, and contributing technical input for outreach, policy advocacy, communications, and related efforts.
- Lead the use of biogeochemical models and development and adaptation of tools such as CaRPE, DayCent, COMET-Farm, and DNDC, and/or lifecycle assessment, to estimate potential climate mitigation and resilience outcomes, of agricultural management practices at multiple scales, as well as other outcomes in collaboration across multi-disciplinary AFT initiatives.
- Organize listening sessions with climate and water quality modelers and with other stakeholder groups (identified in the Outcomes Estimation Tools Guide above) to determine shortcomings of existing research programs and datasets. Identify recommendations for improving them to enable existing modeling tools to be able to generate more accurate outcomes estimates in more states, for more production systems, and for more conservation practices.
- Lead data analysis for on-farm soil health demonstration trial network.
- Lead technical assistance on carbon sequestration potential and other outcomes estimates to states as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance Impact Partner role.
- Lead development of decision support tools for climate smart practice implementation and monitoring.
- Lead data analysis and synthesize and translate technical data and information on agriculture, soil health, and climate mitigation and resilience topics into actionable reports, training materials, publications, and presentations to various audiences.
- Collaborate on and lead researching, writing, and editing of white papers on technical options and tools for promoting successful implementation of practices, and evaluating environmental, economic, and social outcomes of farm and ranch regenerative practices.
- Collaborate to develop new climate mitigation and resilience programming and resources that support other AFT national initiatives and regional offices.
- Support Climate Initiative Director and the Climate Initiative’s cross-disciplinary collaborative teams in partnering with Development staff to fundraise for the Initiative and prepare reports for funders.
- Advise policy and communications staff who make policy recommendations and communicate to stakeholders about the initiative and its impact.
- Represent AFT for national visibility at climate change meetings, workshops, and conferences.
- Support a strong team culture of shared learning, innovation and problem solving among AFT national and regional staff.
The ideal candidate possesses:
- Strong desire to advance regenerative agricultural systems by developing supportive models and tools that are grounded in research findings and on-the-ground experiences.
- Demonstrated advanced project management skills and experience executing complex technical and quantitative tasks.
- Technical knowledge of, and experience modeling and completing life cycle analyses for soil health practices in diverse agricultural systems. Knowledge of soil health and regenerative agriculture’s environmental co-benefits and their interactions with climate change science.
- Advanced ability to conduct independent research using literature review and statistical analysis of complex agronomic or ecological datasets.
- Advanced knowledge of R, SAS, or a comparable statistical programming language.
- Advanced knowledge of and direct experience using climate models and tools (such as DNDC, Century, DayCent, and COMET-Farm) and/or lifecycle assessment methods relevant to agriculture for the purpose of identifying key opportunities to address climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture.
- Demonstrated experience and success in grant writing.
- Interest in developing partnerships with the scientific community, farmers and ranchers, non-profits, corporations, agricultural retailers and industry, and government agencies.
- Experience working in agricultural systems, including engagement with farming and ranching communities.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including leading research and implementation teams, delivering presentations and publishing manuscripts/reports for both technical and lay audiences.
- Ability to do high quality, independent work in a dynamic organization under time pressure.
- Desire to participate in a strong team culture of shared learning, innovation and problem solving among AFT staff.
- Collaborative, professional, and innovative approach.
- Dedication to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within AFT and across agriculture and the food system.
- Experience with and/or knowledge of markets for carbon sequestration or other environmental services.
- Familiarity with social/cultural barriers to behavior change and/or practice adoption in agriculture.
- Knowledge of current state and federal policies and programs related to agriculture, soil health, and climate mitigation and resilience.
- Knowledge of foreign languages and/or cross-cultural experiences an added plus.
Education & Experience
- PhD degree or equivalent level experience in agronomy, soil science, agricultural sciences, environmental science, natural resources, or related field.
- 5 or more years of work experience in a related field.
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 include a current CV and cover letter).