Website rural_action Rural Action

  • Department: Sustainable Agriculture Program
  • Reports to: Director of Sustainable Agriculture
  • Supervises: N/A
  • Hours of Work: 40 hours/week ; Non-exempt
  • Pay Range: $32,500/year

Job Summary

The Beginning Farmer Outreach Assistant is a three-year position funded partially through the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. This position will be the key point of contact between Rural Action and partners to recruit beginning farmers to participate in our Whole Farm project, establish and maintain a data management system to track support to farmers in the region, and respond to the self-identified needs of beginning farmers with appropriate technical assistance, peer learning workshops, site visits, and mentorship. They will also lead the creation and management of Rural Action’s new beginning farmer program website. The Outreach Assistant will work with the Rural Action project team to identify assets of each beginning farmer, and ensure data collection aligns with key reporting metrics found in the Farm Business Health Assessment tool. They will work with beginning farmers to refine whole farm plans and connect them to relevant resources.

The goal of Rural Action’s Whole Farm project is to recruit beginning farmers into a coordinated whole farm planning network to develop actionable business plans based on their goals and on-farm assets. This is one element of Rural Action’s larger Sustainable Agriculture program, which includes a focus on Healthy Food Access; Processing, Aggregation, and Distribution; and Peer-to-Peer education for farmers and value-add food processors, among other projects.

  • Objective 1: Formalize a surveying and data system that tracks the needs of beginning farmers in targeted Appalachian counties and use that to provide responsive technical assistance.
  • Objective 2: Assist the Sustainable Agriculture team to expand an educational, business, and financial support network for beginning farmers in Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia that is based on whole farm planning for risk reduction, income diversification, and long term viability.
  • Objective 3: Map the assets of beginning farmers and incorporate these into whole farm plans (including farm and forestry land use) in order to maximize year-round profitability through diverse income streams.
  • Objective 4: Document and share Rural Action’s support model for beginning diversified farmers across a regional and national network of community development organizations.

Essential Functions of this Position

Education and Outreach

  • Network with other Beginning Farmer programs, both regionally and nationally to ascertain best practices, leverage resources, and attract participants;
  • Work with land grant universities, farm organizations, extension services, and other organizations to recruit new farmer participants;
  • Present on RA’s Whole Farm project at conferences, meetings, and in 1:1 meetings to recruit new farmers and technical assistance providers (lawyers, accountants, marketing professionals, etc.);
  • Assist the team to create a web page entry point for Rural Action’s Whole Farm project;
  • Create social media posts in coordination with Rural Action’s Communications team to promote individual farmers, mentorship opportunities, and the Whole Farm project.

Databases and Tracking

  • Create an organized and easily accessible database and survey tools to monitor farmer participant progress, needs, and inputs;
  • Follow up with previous farmer participants (20-30 since 2019) to understand their evolving needs and successes or roadblocks in farm development;
  • Coordinate with the Sustainable Agriculture team and partners to provide specific assistance to farmer participants — i.e. connecting farmers with startup legal assistance, or marketing assistance for their website.

Additional Sustainable Agriculture duties

  • Support the Sustainable Agriculture team in day-to-day operations when necessary, including supporting food distribution, food processing, peer-to-peer education workshops, and operations at the Chesterhill Produce Auction;
  • Support the Program Director, Program Manager, and Chief Program Officer to complete quarterly progress reports on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant from US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA);
  • Other duties as assigned.

Education, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • A Bachelor’s degree in a related field or related college experience
  • Experience in the field of food and farming
  • Experience working with various partners including non-profit organizations, universities, food services, farmers markets, and technical assistance providers
  • Project management & event coordination skills
  • Ability to access information for producers and consumers from a broad base of professional contacts
  • Ability to create surveying tools, adapt data management systems, and track data
  • Strong written & verbal communication skills
  • Ability to use Word, Excel, social media, and G Suite (Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides)
  • Ability to assist in grant reporting
  • Ability to use tenacity and creativity in order to reach farmers, gather data, and connect them to relevant resources
  • Ability to function in a team environment
  • Ability to work evenings and weekends
  • Valid Ohio driver’s license
  • A passion for sustainable and equitable agricultural systems

NOTE: The above noted job description is not intended to describe, in detail, the multitude of tasks that may be assigned but rather to give the applicant a general sense of the responsibilities and expectations of his/her position. As the nature of business demands change so, too, may the essential functions of this position. Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time.

Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity

Rural Action is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunity and is committed to making employment decisions based on merit. We are committed to complying with any and all pertinent Federal, State and local laws providing equal employment opportunities, as well as all laws related to terms and conditions of employment.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume outlining your experience as it relates to this job description. Send materials to and subject heading: Beginning Farmer Outreach Assistant. The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is hired. For best consideration, please apply by Friday, November 19, 2021.

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