© Michael Menefee

Community Conservation Manager

Posted Date: September 17
Position Closing Date: 
Open until filled
Location: Pueblo, Colorado, but due to COVID-19, this is temporarily a remote position
Employment Status: Full-time, Exempt

Position Summary
Reporting to the Conservation Director, the Pueblo-based Community Conservation Manager will advance conservation, agricultural, and community-building projects that are of local, state, and national importance. Primary objectives are based in our strategic plan and focus on enhancing outdoor recreation, maintaining robust working farms and ranches, and protecting inspiring scenic vistas. This position will bring conservation, community-building, and project development expertise to the organization’s agricultural land conservation projects in Pueblo County, as well as throughout the Colorado’s Lower Arkansas Valley.

The position is the result of a multi-year effort to conserve a critical mass of farmland in target farming communities in the lower Arkansas Valley. Palmer’s core efforts are currently focused on the communities of Pueblo County, including Pueblo, St. Charles Mesa, Vineland, and Avondale. In the wake of the municipal acquisition of one-third of the water on the Bessemer Ditch, the Bessemer Farmland Conservation Project seeks to maintain a critical mass of productive agricultural lands while still providing for Pueblo’s municipal water needs. Palmer’s approach is a multi-faceted, community-based solution reliant upon voluntary methods of water and land conservation. Conservation easements, water exchanges, and other land protection methods will be utilized with interested landowners to continue the effort to conserve important irrigated farmland in the region. Land protection in the area will ensure water remains on the land, but is flexible enough to allow for transfer mechanisms that support municipal and agricultural sharing. 

The Community Conservation Manager will serve as the face of Palmer Land Trust in the Pueblo community and will be the first employee based in the organization’s soon-to-be-opened Pueblo office. The position will support the Conservation Director in advancing all aspects the Bessemer Project, while also proactively building Palmer’s local presence in Pueblo County.

The Community Conservation Manager serves as a representative to conservation stakeholders in Palmer’s service territory of Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley. Based out of the Pueblo office, the Community Conservation Manager’s primary responsibilities will include: growing community partnerships; conducting outreach with local leaders; increasing awareness through media coverage and storytelling of local food; being a local point of contact for farmers; and providing support for aspects of the project including due diligence, conservation easement transactions, and water exchanges. At the core of the position is managing relationships with a wide array of landowners, conservation partners, and community stakeholders. The position will be responsible for managing multiple outreach and community development aspects of the Bessemer Farmland Conservation Project and expanding and deepening Palmer’s presence in the community of Pueblo.

Core Responsibilities

Community Conservation Development (50%)

  • Assume the role of the face of Palmer Land Trust in the Pueblo community.
  • Garner community support for and interest in the Bessemer Farmland Conservation Project.
  • Grow and expand community partnerships with funders, businesses, and agricultural producers throughout Pueblo County.
  • Assist Conservation Director with stewarding current funders and seeking out new Bessemer fundraising opportunities.
  • Initiate and conduct outreach with local business, community, and governmental leaders.
  • Effectively communicate the importance of local food production to a wide array of stakeholders.
  • Participate in projects/committees/working groups as necessary to advance Palmer’s conservation goals.
  • Serve as Palmer’s primary local point of contact for Pueblo County farmers.
  • Represent Palmer at local events, meetings, and community activities.
  • Host community dinners and other various events (as COIVD protocols allow).
  • Increase awareness of Palmer’s work through local media coverage.
  • Participate in partnership meetings and community/civic meetings as necessary.
  • Represent Palmer at conferences, workshops, and other events.

Conservation Project Development (40%)

  • Work with a community-based champions group, identify and advance water exchange pilot projects, and establish broad community support for local farmland.
  • Conduct regular strategic outreach with existing and potential stakeholders and landowners within the region.
  • Develop a pipeline of land and water conservation projects with prospective landowners and other partners.
  • Build and maintain relationships with local conservation stakeholders and partners.
  • Evaluate and respond to land protection inquiries to determine if they meet current objectives.
  • Play an active role as a member of the core Bessemer Project team.
  • Utilize and build off of the current work plan and strategic plan to further conservation in the region.
  • Proactively seek and develop conservation projects that contribute to Palmer’s mission.

Administrative & Other (10%)

  • Abide by and uphold all Palmer Land Trust policies.
  • Open Palmer’s first Pueblo office and oversee the physical office space as the sole Pueblo employee.
  • Maintain strict confidentiality regarding sensitive and emotionally charged information.
  • Enter relevant project data and maintain clean project records in CiviCRM and other project management software as necessary.
  • Participate in staff meetings, Land Committee, and board meetings as needed. 
  • Assist with e-news, print, and other outreach materials such as annual reports and newsletters as needed.
  • Other duties and special projects as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in field relevant to land and water conservation.
  • 3 years successful, related work experience.
  • Ability to manage several diverse projects simultaneously; establish priorities and meet deadlines; independently pursue organization objectives and solutions to complex problems.
  • Highly organized and efficient; hard-working with superb attention to detail and nuance; a good aptitude for due diligence and compliance matters.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ability to convey complex information clearly. 
  • A critical thinker, self-directed, strongly motivated.
  • Passion for natural resource conservation—especially the conservation of working agricultural lands—and a commitment to developing strong working relationships with farmers, landowners, business leaders, government officials, and other partners.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Master’s degree and minimum of 5 years strong conservation experience, including conservation easement and conservation project development experience.
  • Deep understanding of agriculture and the agricultural community of Pueblo County.
  • Measurable past successes building community-based programs that encompass a wide array of stakeholders with varying interests. 
  • Extensive project management experience including ability to motivate, lead, set objectives, and manage large stakeholder groups. Proven experience producing results and meeting program goals.
  • Proven technical skills, analytical ability, good judgment, and strong operational focus.
  • Desire to seek out additional education to stay up-to-date in the fast-developing industry.
  • Demonstrated commitment to conservation in southern Colorado.

Salary & Benefits
Salary range is $50,000 – 58,000 DOE. Palmer offers full time employees excellent benefits including: employer paid health, dental, and vision insurance, short-term and long-term disability, and generous paid time off and holiday observances. The position is based out of Palmer’s soon-to-be-opened Pueblo office, which will be located in the historic downtown area of Pueblo, Colorado.

How to Apply
The position is open until filled. Early applications are strongly recommended. Applicants should submit 1) a cover letter, 2) resume, 3) list of three references, and 4) answers to the questions below (all as a single pdf) by e-mail to: [email protected] with the subject line: Community Conservation Manager. References will not be contacted unless you are selected for a final interview. 

Please limit responses to no more than 200 words per question:

  1. Why does conserving land, water, and agriculture in Colorado’s Lower Arkansas Valley matter to you?
  2. Please describe your community building experience.
  3. Why are you interested in working for Palmer Land Trust, and where do you see yourself in 3 years?

If selected for an interview, there will be a 3-step interview process held remotely by Zoom (with the potential for a socially-distanced, in-person meeting following the Zoom interviews). It may include:

  1. A first interview by Zoom for a “meet and greet” with the Conservation Director (20 minutes)
  2. A second interview with the Conservation Director and Conservation and Stewardship Director. (30 minutes)
  3. A possible third interview with the CEO. (30-60 minutes)

About Palmer Land Trust
Palmer Land Trust's mission is to protect southern Colorado’s lands for present and future generations. Since its incorporation in 1977, the organization has protected nearly 136,000 acres including 20 public parks and open spaces, working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, and scenic views. Palmer is one of the twenty largest local land trusts in the country based upon conserved acreage holdings (there are approximately 1,700 land trusts in the United States), and it is one of the country’s first 100 nationally accredited land trusts. Its office is located in downtown Colorado Springs and has staff located throughout its service area.