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Title: Land Conservation Specialist – East Alton, IL (NGRREC Field Station)
Grade: B24 FLSA: Non-Exempt Date: November 2020
Reports to: Conservation Program Manager
Purpose of Position
The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) is seeking a Conservation Specialist to actively provide agricultural conservation assistance to USDA-NRCS in a multi-county region specifically focusing efforts in Monroe, Madison, and St Clair Counties. The primary purposes of the position will be to provide conservation planning, outreach, and mid-contract management assistance to agricultural producers in order to leverage Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) opportunities to achieve wildlife and water quality goals. The remaining duties of this position including assisting the NGRREC Habitat Strike Team and serving as the management coordinator of The Palisades Nature Preserve which is own by the Lewis and Clark Foundation. This position will also assist the Conservation Program Manager with ongoing research within the Conservation Program and provide a valuable practitioner perspective on associated research and education/outreach.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
The Conservation Specialist will be expected to provide conservation assistance to agricultural and private landowners. This specialist will be a technical expert on all aspects of the Conservation Reserve Program, filling key needs to secure and improve conservation acres on the ground. Primary focuses will include data collection and consultation with agricultural producers about conservation plans for new CRP establishments, compiling CRP conservation options for prospective landowners, and providing technical information to landowners about mid-contract management practices necessary to maintain high quality restorations throughout the duration of their CRP contracts. Land conservation specialists may also assist with the Wetland Reserve Program/Wetland Reserve Easement (WRP/WRE) monitoring and administration as needed.
The remaining 25% of the time the specialist will assist our NGRREC Habitat Strike Team with various management activities including, but not limited to, prescribed fire, timber stand improvement, and foliar spraying of invasive species. Additionally, this position will act as the management coordinator of The Palisades Nature Preserve near Grafton, which is owned by the Lewis and Clark Foundation. Finally, within this 25% the specialist will also assist the Program Manager with ongoing research activities associated with Conservation Programs including field data collection, data management, manuscript/grant preparation, and associated activities.
This position is one of several positions of the private lands conservation hub coordinated by the National Great Rivers Research & Education Center. Additional professional development through field training, professional conferences and workshops, and online courses, is a priority for this position.
The Conservation Specialist’s primary location will be at the actual NGRREC field station in East Alton and will have the opportunity to work at local USDA service centers as needed.
Work hours are 37.5 hours per week, M-F. Job includes both office and fieldwork. Mandatory drug test and security background check, with fingerprinting, will be required of the selected applicant. This position will be a term position, which may be extended if funding is available. Travel to CRP field locations will be a large component of this position and NGRREC vehicle will be accessible; however, use of a personal vehicle will likely be necessary on occasions and L&C has a mileage reimbursement rate of 45 cents per mile (note: round trip commuting distance from residence to NGRREC is not counted toward reimbursement).
• Working with NRCS staff to develop conservation plans consistent with the landowner’s objectives on new CRP establishments.
• Actively new targeting CRP conservation with landowner outreach and one-on-one consultation.
• Providing information and outreach to agricultural producers about CRP mid-contract management practices, such as prescribed fire, strip disking, strip spraying, interseeding, and timber stand improvement.
• Writing wildlife and burn plans for CRP contracts.
• Facilitating positive working relationships with local agency staff, agricultural producers, and other stakeholder groups.
• Understanding and providing information to landowners about the suite of state and federal conservation programs for the purposes of implementing conservation practices and BMPs for watershed, soil, and wildlife goals.
• Developing field specific project plans and cost estimates.
• Assisting NRCS with administrative, outreach, and CRP/WRE monitoring needs.
• Act as the point of contact for management and coordinating decisions for The Palisades Nature Preserve
• Assist the NGRREC Habitat Strike Team on crucial management days when more personnel are needed to effectively conduct habitat management (e.g. prescribed fire and volunteer workdays)
• Assist the Conservation Program Manager with ongoing applied research activities in wildlife and vegetation response to management and multi-scale factors including but not limited to:
o Field data collection
o Data entry and management
o Figure and map creation
o Manuscript and grant preparation assistance
• Assist the Conservation Program Manager with other miscellaneous duties to accommodate the growing NGRREC Conservation Program including logistical and administrative support as needed.
The following are duties that are normal for this position. These are not to be construed as exclusive or all-inclusive. Other duties may be required or assigned.
Minimum Training and Experience Required to Perform Essential Job Functions
• Requires a minimum of an associate’s degree in a natural resources field (bachelor’s preferred), with a concentration in forestry, wildlife biology, ecology, botany or related field. Strong interest in and knowledge of biology, ecology and management of wildlife and their habitat requirements and habitat management techniques are essential.
• Requires familiarity with wildlife management and forest management practices for habitat restoration.
• Requires familiarity with a variety of computer software applications including Microsoft Office Suite, Google Docs, ArcGIS Collector app, and ArcGIS.
• Requires effective organizational, written, and verbal skills.
• Requires the ability to work efficiently and effectively with others (i.e. NRCS, FSA, IDNR, NGOs, SWCDs, etc.), as well as independently, and be able to prioritize a heavy and varied workload.
• Requires possession of valid driver’s license, reliable transportation, and vehicle insurance coverage meeting state minimum requirements at all times.
• A background in agriculture and/or working knowledge of agriculture is desirable.
• Working knowledge of the Conservation Reserve Program and/or other Farm Bill conservation programs is desirable.
• Fieldwork may be taxing. The Conservation Specialist will need to be strong hikers and comfortable working in adverse environmental conditions to gain access to sites and complete fieldwork efficiently.