Soil Health and Water Quality Specialist

Location: Madison, Wisconsin or Midwest U.S. remote option

FLSA Status: Exempt, Salaried

Employment Status: Regular


Sand County Foundation (SCF) is a national nonprofit working at the intersection of agricultural and environmental improvement. We research and demonstrate conservation strategies that make economic sense for landowners, and advance conservation policy improvements. Our Leopold Conservation Award program recognizes and promotes the stories of conservation-minded farmers and ranchers to inspire other landowners. More than 50 years ago, SCF was built on the core ideas encouraged by Aldo Leopold, America’s foremost conservation thinker. Leopold inspired private landowners to adopt what he called a land ethic—a moral responsibility to treat land, water, and wildlife with respect. Today, as most of the land in the contiguous 48 states is managed by farmers, ranchers and forestland owners, SCF is inspiring a growing number of them to ethically manage the natural resources in their care.


The person hired for this exciting and challenging new position will provide technical support—both in the field and at the desk—for SCF’s Agricultural Conservation team’s projects. We manage a diverse project portfolio with efforts supported by both private and public grants, which supports an energizing and dynamic work experience. As new projects have recently kicked-off, this presents an opportunity to fill the need for more technical support on several of our initiatives which focus on building soil health, advancing regenerative agriculture, improving water quality, and protecting wildlife habitat. An emphasis of this position includes coordination and implementation of innovative research and demonstration projects by working with watershed or conservation coordinators, farmers or ranchers, local agencies, or non-governmental partners. The person hired will report to the Vice President of Agricultural Research & Conservation, but will have the opportunity to interact with all SCF personnel, including outside partners, board members, and project funders.


1. Collect, analyze, interpret and summarize field and survey data to assess outcome metrics for ongoing SCF soil health, pollinator habitat, and regenerative agriculture projects.

2. Provide technical assistance to farmers/ranchers, agricultural advisors, and governmental agencies (local, state, and federal) on agricultural conservation planning and implementation activities.

3. Coordinate project outreach and education activities including presentations, field days, and publication material to scale up project impact.

4. Collaborate with SCF communication staff on project video production, social media posts, and webinars to communicate project results across a diverse audience.

5. Identify conservation strategies that improve management of soil, water, and wildlife on private lands, earn trust of urban and rural stakeholders, and provide input on the establishment of innovative and influential SCF research and demonstration projects.

6. Facilitate teams of landowners, science advisors, funders, and other stakeholders necessary to the success of SCF agricultural conservation projects.

7. Maintain respectful and effective communication with all cooperating partners, including project reporting to meet funder’s deadlines.

8. Uphold commitment to SCF principles, mission, and objectives.

9. Complete other duties and tasks as assigned.


1. Bachelor’s degree in an agricultural, environmental, soil and water resources, or land management related field.

2. Hands-on, working knowledge of and experience in agriculture and conservation, specifically grazing systems, native perennial vegetation, and/or nutrient management planning.

3. Strong oral and written communication and presentation skills; able to communicate project goals and outcomes effectively with a variety of stakeholders and audiences.

4. Thorough understanding of agriculture and ability to communicate effectively in one-on-one settings with farmers, ranchers, foresters, and others in the agricultural conservation industry.

5. Applied knowledge of soil and water field sampling and data collection techniques.

6. Proven experience working with agricultural soil and water erosion prediction and nutrient runoff models or tools.

7. Leadership skills including high levels of patience and perseverance, and the ability to use diplomacy to diffuse difficult situations amongst project partners and stakeholders.

8. Ability to plan and achieve goals, think analytically and solve problems, along with a strong drive for achieving measurable land and water outcomes.

9. Experience working in a team environment, collaborating on multiple projects while meeting goals and producing high-quality, timely deliverables.

10. Enthusiasm and passion for the mission, goals, and core values of SCF.

11. Willingness to travel to project sites, with minimal (<5%) overnight travel. Valid driver’s license required.


1. Master’s Degree in an agricultural, environmental, soil and water resources, or land management related field.

2. Proven analytical experience applying software for geospatial assessments and mapping (e.g., ArcGIS), modeling agricultural sediment and nutrient loss, and conducting water and soil field sampling and data assessment.

3. Familiarity with local, state, and federal (i.e., Farm Bill) conservation programs.

4. Demonstrated ability to recognize and develop innovations that advance conservation and agronomic outcomes.

5. Competence cultivating and maintaining effective working relationships with farmers or ranchers, landowners, agency representatives, agricultural advisors, and industry representatives.


SCF is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to being a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist workplace. We are committed to creating a workplace where people from all social identities and backgrounds feel welcome and can thrive. We believe that rich diversity makes us more innovative, competitive, and creative, which helps us better serve our sponsors, collaborators, and communities.


SCF offers competitive compensation commensurate with experience and independently verified market comparables, and provides a generous benefits package.


Applications will be reviewed beginning March 19, 2021, but the position will remain open until filled. Submit a cover letter, resume or curriculum vitae, and contact information for three professional references to

With this opportunity is the potential for growth; we encourage candidates to incorporate into their cover letter a statement explaining how their innovative ideas, personal strengths, and unique skillsets could be integrated into SCF’s efforts to complement our mission and program goals. The cover letter is also an opportunity to summarize how past education or work experience fits within the stated essential and preferred qualifications. For specific questions regarding the position, please email Heidi Peterson, Ph.D., Vice President Agricultural Research & Conservation at