Job Title: Conservation Planner Job Status: Contractual (Sangamon County Soil and Water Conservation District)Start Date: ASAP Reports to: IDOA Division of Natural Resources Manager/Project Coordinator Salary Range: $40,000 – $44,000 Benefits: Full benefit package available Primary Location: Various statewide locations (see attached map) 

Overview of Project: The purpose of this initiative is to allow the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) to address the conservation staffing capacity challenges and expand Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy efforts in Illinois, increase Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) technical assistance to Illinois CRP participants, and to increase general conservation planning assistance to Illinois landowners, users, and producers. 

Job Description: Conservation planners provide environmental resource management advice, consult about land use and protection, and engage with multiple stakeholders. Each project is different, but all conservation planners should be familiar with the following duties: 

•Apply the theories and practices of land use planning
•Source and apply relevant legislation and engineering best practices
•Apply the practices of natural environmental management
•Identify, analyze and remediate environmental issues and conflicts
•Promote environmental concerns, advocate for pollution prevention and land conservation
•Consult on legislative and policy rulings
•Make land use and conservation advice and recommendations to a variety of parties
•Identify and evaluate conservation issues and conflicts
•Develop and deploy solutions to logistical, ethical or process problems from a conservation standpoint
•Stay up to date on all correspondence, briefing notes, reports, field surveys and other documentation
•Promote environmental management through reports, interactions with clients and the public andpresentations
•Commit to building a better community and environment
•Engage with community members at the local and state levels
•Exercise strong interpersonal skills to create pathways to more partnerships
•Work with interdisciplinary government agencies, officials, and community groups

Primary responsibilities include: 

Develops Conventional Conservation Plans (35%) 

•Receives training in professional farm planning methods and procedures; soil interpretations andproperties; and in conservation application to develop a well-rounded experience in resourceconservation planning and to better understand the interrelation of the various functional fields withinthe resource conservation program.

•Assists in gathering and assembling preliminary data for all resource concerns for use in developingcomplete basic farm conservation plans. Prepares draft drawings identifying problem areas in the field,delineates watershed areas, assesses soil types and performs preliminary layout of conservation practiceson aerial photos. Completes assigned plans using most current NRCS web-based programs. Utilizes soilerosion tools such as RUSLE and WEPS and the Pesticide Risk Assessment tool; and other technology toolsas part of conservation planning process. Completes the CPA 52, NRCS environmental assessment duringthe planning stages. Assembles completed farm plan folders according to NRCS procedure. CompletesConservation Planning course as part of requirement to become certified as a conservation planner.

•Conducts engineering surveys and lays out conservation practices and prepares drawings for conservationpractices common to the area. Performs engineering surveys under the direction of a NRCS SoilConservation Technician and/or Engineer. Assists preliminary surveys and practice lay out, measurement,and certification. Maintains accurate field notes, reduces and plots notes, and performs preliminary draftingand simple designs as assigned. Assists with construction checks of conservation practices installed toassure adherence to NRCS standards and specifications. Deviations from plans or standards are reported tosupervisor for corrective action.

•Keeps daily records of time and work accomplishments and summarizes time and accomplishments forperiodic and special reports.

•Receives intensive and specialized training in all phases of the soil and water conservation programs,including information and education activities, working relationships with district governing body, andother state, federal, and local groups at the county level.

•Travel as needed to complete the assigned duties.

Implements Farm Bill Programs (25%) 

•Understands all applicable NRCS, State and Farm Bill programs available to address resource concerns andexplains cost share programs and payment procedures to applicants and contract holders. Withsupervision provides technical assistance to farmers and ranchers about Farm Bill conservation programs.

•With supervision utilizes most current technology programs in the documentation and management ofconservation plans and technical assistance by the service center. Utilizes current technology includingelectronic data collection and geographic information systems to perform duties.

•With supervision provides assistance in administrative, fiscal, and technical responsibilities for a widevariety of farm bill, NRCS and IDOA state programs carried out at the field office which may include but arenot limited to Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP),easement programs and Partners for Conservation initiatives.

Contract Review for Compliance with Schedules and Practice Requirements (25%) 

•Carries out a follow-up schedule for applying soil conservation practices in accordance with plan andcontract schedules. Under the direction of the Grant Program Coordinator, makes minor changes in farmplans as necessary to comply with changes in farm operations, change of ownership, or to provide a moreworkable plan for the farm operation. Assists with contract reviews as assigned and notifies DistrictConservationist when contracts are technically non-compliant.

Conservation Objectives and Programs Promotion/Assistance to District Conservationist (15%) 

•Carries out various duties which enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of soil conservation operationscarried out by the field office. Writes news articles and stories, conducts tours, speaks to groups andcollects pertinent information to he used to further agency programs.

•Consistently communicates and treats customers (America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners,their representatives, visitors, and all IDOA/NRCS staff and leadership) in a courteous, tactful, andrespectful manner. Incumbent provides the customer with consistent information according toestablished policies and procedures. Handles conflict and problems in dealing with the customerconstructively and appropriately.

•Works with IDOA state team and NRCS District Conservationist to conduct environmental education onnatural resource issues, water quality, and general conservation at workshops, seminars, fairs, and/orassist the Conservation District staff in these activities.

•Participates in meetings with IDOA staff and District Conservationist to coordinate work and prioritizewhere technical assistance will be provided.

•Communicates and works directly with landowners and operators through face-to-face contact,telephone, written correspondence or e-mail.

Other Position Factors: 

Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights: Actively supports the Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights Programs and assures the delivery of agency programs and services are carried out in accordance with policy and procedures without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. 

Safety and Health: Performs duties in a supportive manner of a safe and healthy work environment. The incumbent exercises caution and maintains all safety requirements when exposed to dangerous objects, chemicals, and extreme temperatures. 

Condition of Employment: Motor vehicle operator: Must possess and maintain a valid state motor vehicle operator’s license for the type of vehicle(s) operated to perform the duties of this position. This may require the operation of a motor vehicle in both public and private roads during daylight hours and occasionally after dark. 

Condition of Employment: The incumbent is required to obtain Conservation Planning Certification in accordance with the guidelines in General Manual 180 Part 409.3. State specific supplement requirements, if issued, will apply. 

For more information or to apply, contact: 

Kristen Heaton, IDOA/NRCS Conservation Capacity Building Initiative

Download file for application form