The knowledge and activity of the environmental planning expert will help bridge the gap between NRCS staff, NGRREC science and conservation staff, stakeholder-partners, and other agencies and organizations engaged in conservation work in the state. The person in this position will interface with partners interested in or already working on watershed planning as it relates to NRCS conservation programs, including those watersheds, including areas and partners, NGRREC is already engaged with. This interface will be most important at the NRCS/partner field level where this coordinator will work to more fully engage NRCS and partner field-level staff in all aspects of the Areawide Conservation Planning (ACP) process. Historically, NRCS was at the table for many of these types of discussions, but new responsibilities and programs have limited many field staff’s time to devote to this practice. A key component of this position will help NRCS show partners, including NGRREC’s LCSs, the resources NRCS can contribute to watershed planning so that watershed projects achieve more conservation. Additionally, the knowledge of other planning programs such as Clean Water Act 604(b) will allow for coordination and potentially synergistic activities in conservation planning.
- Conduct and lead workshops and education programs on the subject of areawide conservation planning throughout the state targeted toward NRCS field staff and partners
- Facilitate and coordinate improved communication and engagement among partners and agencies, bringing previously untapped resources to already occurring ACP efforts
- Coordinate planning and conservation initiatives outside typical NRCS activities, and engage with a diverse network of conservation professionals.
- Establish positive working relationships with local agency staff, agricultural producers, and other stakeholder groups.
- Model for NRCS field staff and partners how to use ACP to bring about more efficient and effective conservation implementation, compared to working with producers individually
- Develop strong connection to NGRREC and its conservation programs in an effort to them to become more familiar with NRCS operations and opportunities that will benefit future collaborations that focus on monitoring and applied research associated with NRCS conservation program and technical assistance.
- Assist NRCS in putting more targeted conservation practices on the ground for a specific watershed and where they are needed most is a constant conservation challenge that takes coordination
This position is among the newest 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.
Primary objectives and outcome of this position include:
1. Greater utilization of NRCS conservation practices within Areawide Conservation Planning (ACP) efforts within the state
2. Greater NRCS and partner participation in the planning process will lead to more coordinated efforts in ACP in the project region, and ultimately more conservation practices implemented in a targeted way.
3. Serve as a model for future projects, NRCS and its partners will be able to understand the pieces required to be successful in an ACP project and better see their project shortcomings and address them.
The Watershed Coordinator’s primary duty station is planned to be at the State NRCS office in Champaign, IL. The Watershed Coordinator has the potential to work statewide on various projects and to interface with regional partners and watershed groups. The coordinator will have the ability to both utilize NGRREC Land Conservation Specialist connections/resources, but also help link NGRREC’s boots-on-the-ground LCS network with watershed planning opportunities.
A NRCS vehicles may be used for travel throughout the state. Work hours are 37.5 hours per week, M-F. Job includes both office and field work. Mandatory drug test and security background check, with fingerprinting, will be required of the selected applicant. This position will be a two-year term position, which may be extended if funding is available.
- Bachelor’s degree in a natural resources field, with a concentration in soil science and water quality, landscape ecology, natural resources management, 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.
- Familiarity with best management and conservation practices within agricultural landscapes with additional knowledge of wildlife management and forest management practices for habitat restoration being beneficial
- Familiarity with a variety of computer software applications including Microsoft Office Suite and ArcGIS Suite.
- Effective organizational, written, and verbal skills including public speaking and meeting facilitation.
- 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.
- 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 highly desirable.
- Working knowledge of the NRCS conservation program and/or other Farm Bill conservation programs is highly desirable (e.g. CRP, WRE, EQUIP, CSP, etc.)
- Knowledge and familiarity with Illinois state watershed goals and priorities is beneficial (e.g. IL Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy)
- Knowledge of the watershed planning process is highly desirable.