By Ryan Heiniger

Recruitment Period Now Open: Apply To Be A 2022 Conservation Steward Farmer – America’s Conservation Ag Movement

January 11, 2022

America’s Conservation Ag Movement (ACAM) convenes farmers, agribusinesses and the conservation community together around the future of farming by bringing profitable, conservation-minded farming practices into the mainstream. We connect the dots, giving farmers a platform to share their journey, meet other farmers on the same path and access the resources they need to undertake change.

We are currently recruiting 2 farmers per state in Arkansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Indiana and California to collaborate with Farm Journal Inc. and its sustainable ag division, Trust In Food; Farm Journal Foundation; USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and approximately 20 private-sector organizations to help lead local, in-person farmer engagement and outreach for America’s Conservation Ag Movement (ACAM). We are seeking farmers of diverse backgrounds representing different crops produced, stages of conservation ag adoption and geographic location. Additionally, historically underserved producers are encouraged to apply.

In this critical role, farmers will partner with ACAM staff to establish, organize and manage outreach efforts primarily to fellow farmers and secondarily to other key local stakeholders, which might include landowners, conservation professionals and trusted advisers. Much of the outreach energy will be focused on creating a local and dynamic Farmer-to-Farmer Learning Community, which will foster the sharing of technical, economic, ecological, and social benefits of adopting conservation agriculture systems, including but not limited to practices and programs.  The vast majority of the outreach work will be based in the farmers’ local area. Additionally, attendance and participation in 1) a larger statewide conservation ag conference and 2) the annual Trust in Food Symposium (travel stipend included) from Feb. 14-16 in Nashville is highly desired.  Additional opportunities might include select engagement in speaking roles at other national meetings. 

The farmers selected as Conservation Stewards will:

  1. With significant support and assistance from ACAM team, plan, manage and host a total of eight events including: six (6) conservation-focused farmer group gatherings (e.g.: “shop talks”) that cumulatively over the year will build the strong foundation for a farmer-led conservation movement; one (1) field day/conservation ag practice tour; and one (1) broader community conservation agriculture outreach event.
  2. Advise the state ACAM teams—including staff and external stakeholders—on the strategic direction of their education and outreach programming and other related content, helping to ground all work in farmers’ perspectives. This can also include participation on the ad-hoc ACAM National Farmer Committee (virtual meetings)
  3. As the opportunity arises, collaborate with Farm Journal editors, photographers, videographers and other content producers to tell your personal story of conservation.
  4. Participate actively in the annual Trust In Food Symposium. The next in-person Symposium is scheduled February 14-16, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn. The virtual Symposium may also include Conservation Steward engagement opportunities and is planned Feb. 22-23, 2022. 
  5. Strategically use personal social media to authentically tell the story of your conservation ag journey.

The individual(s) selected will participate in an ongoing project that is part of a Contribution Agreement between Farm Journal Foundation and USDA’s NRCS, reporting to the subcontractor, Farm Journal Inc. The position of Conservation Steward represents a 1-year commitment with the option to renew annually subject to availability of funding and agreement by both Farm Journal Inc. and the farmer. A majority of project work is anticipated to be completed in the August 2022 timeframe, with flexibility beyond that date for potential delays or other unexpected circumstances.

The farmer(s) selected shall have the following qualifications:

  • Is an energetic and passionate conservation-minded farmer interested in convening and leading others to accelerate conservation practice adoption in their local area.
  • Has adopted one or more conservation ag practices, programs or innovations within the past five years, especially those with the potential for climate-smart ag benefits
  • Believes those practices, programs or innovations have been beneficial to their operations and is willing to publicly share how they arrived at those beliefs, including any lessons learned through trial and error that can make the conservation adoption process more successful for other farmers.
  • Has worked with the county NRCS office in the recent past, receiving technical and/or financial assistance in implementing conservation practices. Is willing to inform and assist neighboring farmers to also work with NRCS and local conservation partners
  • Has a social media presence, or a desire to build one, and utilize this important tool to share knowledge.

Compensation:

The selected farmers will hold the title of Conservation Steward and sign a contract with Farm Journal Inc. The total compensation available per Conservation Steward is $6,000 annually and is based on successful completion of the 8 outreach events and related tasks.  The compensation can be earned incrementally and payment will be made as tasks are fulfilled.  Additional reimbursement is available to offset food, beverage and other incidental costs associated with the eight meetings.

How to Apply:

To be considered for a Conservation Steward, send a 1-2 page letter by 1/23/22 via email to rheiniger@farmjournal.com describing your farm operation and location, your interest in conservation ag including any climate-smart ag programs or regenerative ag practices you have utilized, involvement in any conservation or agriculture organizations, familiarity and use of social media and preferred platforms, and other supporting information that helps describe your interest in supporting other farmers to accelerate conservation ag.

Contact:

Ryan Heiniger, Director, ACAM, 319-768-8348, rheiniger@farmjournal.com         

Deadline to Apply:

Letters must be received by 5 p.m. on Sunday January 23, 2022

For more information about America’s Conservation Ag Movement, please visit America’s Conservation Ag Movement at AgWeb.com.

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