Lead, Programs, Resilient Agriculture
Delta Institute is seeking a dynamic and innovative environmental professional to lead our work in advancing resilient agriculture practices throughout the Great Lakes basin. The Resilient Agriculture Program Lead is the nexus of multiple impactful projects currently underway to connect soil health with land appraisal, and capture carbon sequestration value from agricultural conservation practices. In addition, as a member of the Delta programs staff, the Lead coordinates the strategic development and implementation of our work, collaborates with other Delta programs staff, and serves as the resilient agriculture thought leader and liaison with key external partners and stakeholders. The Lead is responsible for implementing short-term priorities and operations, and they are involved in long-term planning, which includes developing new projects, partnerships, and fundraising opportunities.
It is critical the Lead has a deep understanding of environmental and economic issues throughout the Midwest and how they dovetail within national and global contexts, with a specific focus on and understanding of the role that agricultural practices play. It is important that the Lead bring to Delta new networks that will further the organization’s objectives.
Delta offers a competitive salary with a robust benefits package that includes generous paid time off, a 401k, and medical, dental and vision insurance. Delta is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Salary Range: $72,448 – $83,184
*Senior Lead Salary Range: $88,729 – 94,275
Delta Institute is a Midwest-focused, environmental nonprofit whose mission is to collaborate with communities to solve complex environmental challenges. We currently focus our work on three initiative areas:
- Resilient Agriculture
- Nature-Based Climate Solutions
- Sustainability and Support Services
To achieve our vision of a thriving region, we partner with communities, governmental organizations and agencies, NGOs businesses, nonprofits, and universities throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest.
We are multi-disciplinary systems thinkers. We understand that the issues around food, water, air, energy and waste are all connected.
Our broad and deep expertise, and partner networks developed over nearly 25 years, have been integral in Delta’s success in implementing environmental change at scale. Our initiatives are designed for ecological impact rooted in positive economic and social change. All three are essential for the work not only to sustain over time, but also to deepen and expand.
Delta serves as a trusted advisor, technical assistance provider, and project implementation expert. Funding comes from both philanthropic and earned revenue: private and government grants, charitable contributions, and fee-for-service contracts.
Why our work in Resilient Agriculture is needed
Agricultural land management decisions are situated within a complex yet interconnected system, influenced by social and economic factors that are difficult for farming communities to control. In the Midwest nearly 50% of agricultural land is leased, and therefore managed by farmers who do not own the land and operate on razor-thin margins. Current land management practices often include using fertilizers such as phosphorus and other harmful chemicals, polluting the local water table through overuse. Watershed-scale conservation programs are typically time-delimited by funding source and do not have standard rollout or implementation.
Compounding matters, many farmers have stated to Delta that conservation incentives are often missing or misaligned between federal and state cost-share programs. Moreover, even though soil health testing is necessary for greenhouse gas programs and emerging carbon markets, soil health data is lacking and not standardized—meaning there is no cheap, effective, or uniform way for farmers to utilize these measurements in their operations.
Understanding these challenges, Delta is working to expand conservation practices to farms—both independent and commodity—throughout the Midwest via practical, feasible implementation activities grounded in science and proven to sequester carbon while mitigating financial risk to farmers.
Our Resilient Agriculture goals and related projects.
In addition to their environmental and climate benefits, resilient agricultural practices provide significant economic benefits for rural communities, as demonstrated in our past and current work. Implementing conservation practices also increases working lands’ resilience to extreme events like flooding and drought, ultimately leading to more profitable and resilient farms via:
Standardizing Soil Health Testing and Increase its Use as a Metric for Farm Management.
- Create a soil health testing guide so that more farmers can benefit from carbon markets and incentive programs;
- Address the perceived asset value—or lack thereof—of regeneratively farmed land; and,
- Develop a land valuation approach that incorporates soil health, with a keen focus on farmland appraisals.
Creating an Integrated Administration Program to Scale-up Conservation Practice Implementation.
- Assess current conditions and providing strategic recommendations with regional expansion of conservation practices throughout Southeast Michigan, with statewide (and beyond) implications;
- Evaluate the gaps, needs, and interconnectedness between conservation practice adoption and incentive programs; and,
- Land management practices that sequester carbon, reduce nutrient pollution, and improve water quality (including pay for performance in target watersheds).
The Resilient Agriculture Program Lead must be resourceful, agile, creative, and unflappable. The Lead must be comfortable handling several complex projects at once and able to address day-to-day details as well as understand the bigger picture.
To be successful in this role, the Lead needs:
- Great communications skills, both written and verbal
- Great organizational skills, with attention to details and deadlines
- Experience managing creative, multidisciplinary, collaborative teams where team members working styles can vary
- An established network of partners, collaborators, and funding relationships
- An ability to “connect the dots” between projects, ideas, and organizations
- An enthusiasm and commitment to work that is always challenging and of vital importance
- Strategy: in coordination with external partners, funders, and Delta colleagues (Programs Director, Development and Communications Director, CEO)
- Business and Revenue Development: engaging external partners (farmers, farm managers, agricultural stakeholders, NGOs, supply chain partners) to identify new revenue-generating business opportunities
- support and coordinate the work of teams, providing resources, scheduling and running meetings, and outlining work plans, milestones, timeframes and deadlines for on-time, on-budget deliverables
- liaise with stakeholders and funders
- work with staff (including interns) and external stakeholders to execute strategy
- Budgets: develop budgets and work plans for project and program proposals, consulting with outside specialists, project team members, and other Delta colleagues
- Fundraising: identify and pursue philanthropic and private sector support
- develop and maintain key professional affiliations in support of organizational and professional development goals
- build networks and maintain relationships with academic, scientific, business, governmental and NGO partners
- identify cross-sector collaborators pursuing common objectives
- Research: identify and understand both primary and potential users of initiative products and services
We are looking for applicants with:
- a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science or agricultural economics, environmental science or related field, with preference given to those with a Master’s degree or equivalent experience
- at least 7 years of relevant professional experience working directly with agricultural stakeholders
- a background in fundraising or revenue development: engaging foundations, government agencies, and businesses, and experience responding to RFPs and funding opportunities, including creating scopes of work, budgets, and schedules
- proficiency using technology as a management reporting tool
- proficiency analyzing data and technical documents
- self-motivation, able to navigate a fast-paced work environment
* Senior Lead candidates will have advanced qualifications
The physical demands of the job include:
- Sitting: much of the work requires being at a desk, working on computer
- Hand and finger dexterity: typing, writing
- Talking and listening: presentations, information-gathering and general communication
- Noise: moderate in office environment
- Climbing, balancing, bending, stooping, kneeling and crawling: field work
- Being able to lift and/or move 10 lbs
Please email an application packet as a single PDF that includes a cover letter and resume to:
Please use “Lead, Resilient Agriculture” in the subject line.
Applications are being considered on a rolling basis.
Thank you for applying.