About the Greenbelt Foundation:
The Greenbelt Foundation stewards Ontario's Greenbelt, two million acres of protected land that provides clean air, fresh water, climate resilience, and a reliable local food source to help Ontario thrive. The Foundation was established in 2005 with a mandate to support the long-term viability of agriculture, strengthen rural economies, and restore and enhance natural features. We are the only charitable organization solely dedicated to the health and prosperity of Ontario's Greenbelt.
About the Project & Position:
The Greenbelt Foundation is recruiting a Soil Health Specialist to assist with our soil health assessment initiative. This four-year project has a dynamic team of soil scientists, researchers and educators, working together to assess and promote beneficial management practices (BMPs) on Greenbelt farms to increase climate resilience, improve biodiversity, and build productivity and profitability for farmers. The project will develop practical, effective measurements for assessing the status of a farm’s soil health and provide a way to evaluate progress over time. To do so, soil health benchmarks will be established for soil groups across the Greenbelt.
Soil sampling to establish the benchmarks will be conducted in 2023 and 2024, which requires coordinating sites, conducting sampling and documenting management practices for approximately 135-225 sites. Securing sampling sites will require extensive engagement with local and provincial farm organizations, as well as leading major on-farm events to garner attention. Once the benchmarks are established, the program will be promoted to additional farmers (75-125 farmers annually) through on-farm events and online campaigns in 2025 and 2026. All farmers participating in the program will require the outcomes of their soil health tests communicated to them and be provided materials on relevant BMPs to encourage adoption. The project requires extensive coordination with agricultural organizations (e.g., Soil Health Institute, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Certified Crop Advisors Associations, and the University of Guelph), landowners (e.g., farmers, conservation authorities), and Greenbelt Foundation staff. This role requires an individual comfortable with soil sampling, farmer outreach and education activities.
Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Contacting farmers and landowners, as well as individuals/organizations that engage with land managers (e.g., OSCIA, OFA, CAs) to identify soil sampling locations, coordinate sampling logistics, and conduct brief interviews on management practices for 300-500 sites.
- Communicating with landowners about timing of sampling and site access and collecting management history data.
- Traveling within the Greenbelt’s counties and regions to conduct soil sampling.
- Assessing suitability of sampling locations with respect to project sampling design (i.e., fit within priority soil health groups and management systems) using maps and in-field assessments.
- Recording and managing metadata on soil samples and site characteristics.
- Collecting soil samples for soil health analyses using slide hammers, core samplers, and push probes/augers.
- Shipping soil samples to laboratory for analysis.
- Project reporting, data management, and surveying.
- Develop and contribute to written educational and communication materials.
- Develop and coordinate virtual and in-person educational programs that include listening sessions, field days, and soil health events for a diversity of farming communities.
- Providing educational materials to farmers and landowners participating in the programs on relevant BMPs and incentive programs available in their region.
- Reporting regularly to the Greenbelt Foundation’s Research and Policy Analyst and the Soil Health Institute’s Lead Soil Scientist, as well as ongoing engagement with project committees (e.g., advisory committee, scientific committee, and outreach and education committee).
- Bachelors or Master’s degree in soil science, agronomy, soil conservation, natural resource management, or a related field is desired. Candidates with field-based research experience is an asset. Soil sampling and safety training will be provided.
- Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills; directly relatable experience in effective communication with a diversity of agricultural stakeholders is preferred.
- Desire to foster effective partnerships with farmers, landowners, extension educators, researchers, government staff, commodity organizations, and industry partners.
- Enthusiasm for meeting landowners/farmers and to learn about soilscapes and management practices. Understanding of agricultural management practices is required.
- Organizational skills and attention to detail.
- Knowledge of soil formation and soil-landscape relationships is desired (e.g., soil mapping).
- Ability to characterize basic soil morphology in the field.
- Experience in translating technical information regarding soil health principles and practices into accessible recommendations for what producers can do to improve the health of their soils.
- Ability to complete physically demanding work in adverse environmental conditions, including intense summer heat and humidity.
- Valid G driver’s license.
- Ability to lift 35 lbs.
- Applicants must be authorized to work in Canada.
Full-time work collecting soil samples will likely occur in April and May, annually. Additional site visits may be required to provide sample results to farmers and information related to BMP adoption and/or incentive programs. The candidate will be provided with a rental car for travel to and from sampling sites. Alternatively, the candidate can use their own vehicle and be compensated for travel. Sampling will occur across the Greenbelt landscape. Depending on travel time/distance, lodging will be provided. Remote work both prior and post soil sampling may be conducted from the employee’s home office. Attendance at periodic in-person meetings at the Greenbelt Foundation’s office in Toronto or other locations is expected.
Compensation ranges from $70,000-$82,000 annually and is negotiable according to demonstrated experience and ability. This is intended to be a 4-year, full-time contract with some flexibility.
Applications should be received no later than January 22, 2023.
To apply for this position, submit a cover letter and resume through our online portal.
The Greenbelt Foundation thanks all applicants for their interest, but only successful candidates will be contacted.