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Sustainable conservation

Modesto, San Francisco, or Sacramento, CA

http://www.suscon.org/

Outreach and Engagement: Supporting Technical Assistance Providers in Cover Crops and SGMA Implementation

 

Desired Skills/Traits:

  • Desired Academic Background and Knowledge 

    • Studied environmental, soil, or agriculture sciences.

    • Familiar with the scientific method and has interest in CA agriculture and water regulations. 

  • Primary Skills

    • Interpersonal and communication 

      • Logistics, planning, and coordination

    • Organization; able to track and execute multiple projects and tasks, meeting deadlines  

  • Secondary Skills

    • Confidence engaging with different audiences and public speaking 

    • Attention to detail, thoughtfulness 

    • Ability to document and synthesize information from verbal and written sources 

Openings: 1 of 1

elliot field visit 3.jpeg
Focus Area: Agriculture

Education & Outreach, Regenerative Agriculture, Climate Mitigation & Adaptation, Watershed Management, Cover Cropping

project breakdown

Research

10%

Planning

25%

Implementation

25%

Education & Outreach

40%

Goals & Needs

Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive, uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing our land, air, and water. The organization’s Solutions in our Soils Program works with researchers, policy makers, technical assistance providers, and growers to increase the pace and scale of adoption of soil health practices that result in water-related benefits. Programmatic work in the Central Valley currently focuses on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and how this implementation may impact the practice of cover cropping. Over the past 2 years, Sustainable Conservation hosted a convening series and subsequent collaborative report-writing process to articulate (1) the current science on cover crop water impacts in California and Mediterranean climates, (2) how the implementation of this policy by local agencies interacts with the practice, and (3) key recommendations to improve this implementation, for cover cropping and water supply more generally. In 2024-2025, we will deliver these findings to the communities who need them: developing outreach materials, delivering information, and catalyzing the uptake of this information in Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs) and Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs). These goals will be most effectively met when they are developed in collaboration with these communities, such that their needs are clearly articulated and suitable strategies are co-developed. 

 

2. The Fellow will act as a liaison between Sustainable Conservation and the RCD and TA communities, developing a deep understanding of SGMA implementation and our findings, travelling to meetings, and iteratively co-developing program strategy. Daily life is likely to be a mix of office time (individually, engaging with program staff, and centered around collaborative work and meetings) and travelling to meetings across the Central Valley and beyond.  

 

3. Degraded groundwater supply, due to over-pumping, shifting precipitation regimes, and uncertain surface water supplies is leading to critical aquifer overdraft, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. This overdraft threatens agricultural productivity, reduces access to clean drinking water, and causes deleterious environmental externalities, such as the destruction of groundwater dependent ecosystems. To address these multiple threats, multiple benefit solutions are vital. 

 

4. The Fellow will help TAPs and RCDs support growers with their adoption of soil health practices, particularly cover cropping, in a changing regulatory landscape. Cover cropping is considered a climate smart practice that can bring a myriad of benefits – especially in supporting healthier communities, ensuring resilience to water-related impacts from a changing climate, and increasing soil health and biodiversity. 

Capacity Building Projects

Connecting Sustainable Conservation and the TA community to enhance organizational outreach.

  1. Sustainable Conservation, RCDs, and TAPs in the San Joaquin Valley 

  2. Liaising between Sustainable Conservation, RCDs, and other TA-providers. 

  3. Deliverables: 

    • Coordinate and participate in a series of meetings (~4) to better understand TA/grower needs around SGMA implementation and “water-efficient" cover cropping 

      • (Co-)coordinated, attended, and participated in meetings with selected RCDs and TA-providers 

    • Coordinate and participate in meetings (~3) with Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) representatives to ensure alignment 

    • The co-development of program strategy and content based on these meetings 

      • For grower guidance to SGMA implementation product 

      • For grower guidance for water-efficient cover cropping product 

      • For outreach strategy to...

        1. Deliver information to RCDs and TAPs 

        2. Gather information to finalize products  

    • A report highlighting the key gaps, bottlenecks, and barriers faced by TAPs and RCDs in helping growers implement more sustainable agricultural practices on the landscapes within the confines of SGMA (to collect learnings from TAPs and inform program strategy moving forward). 

 

These activities will provide much needed capacity for Sustainable Conservation and the TA communities to better engage, share information, align on needs, and support mutually beneficial outcomes. This is crucial, as connections with these communities will benefit the cover cropping work and the continued push to leverage the water benefits of soil health to get more sustainable agricultural practices on the landscape – securing much needed, multiple benefit solutions to the many challenges facing agriculture in the state.  

 

Developing and delivering educational material to these communities of practice. 

  1. Sustainable Conservation, RCDs, and TAPs in the San Joaquin Valley 

  2. Codeveloping and delivering educational materials/workshops to RCDs and TAPs.  

    • Working with program staff to develop materials based on conversations and strategy derived from liaising with TA community. 

    • (Co-)deliver materials to targeted audiences in the Central Valley. 

  3. Deliverables: 

    • (At least) 8 meetings with TAPs such as RCDs, UCCE, or others. 

    • Maintain a log of meetings to highlight successes and areas for improvement (both strategic and personal), to iteratively improve. 

 

After collaboratively articulating an understanding of the audiences’ needs, we will deliver the outreach and collected information to the groups who need it the most. This work will ensure that growers can better understand and interact with their GSA, learn about the science behind cover crops and water, and understand some of the key parameters, decision points, and strategies to implement water efficient cover crops for multiple benefits despite the water supply pressures under SGMA. 

Organizational & Community Highlights

 

Sustainable Conservation works with California's agricultural sector to help continue and grow the legacy of stewardship of people and lands. Our culture supports a commitment to collaboration, encourages continuous learning, and welcomes diverse perspectives. The team has a variety of professional backgrounds, from government and policy to private business to research science. The GrizzlyCorps Fellow will be working under the mentorship of staff who have many years of experience in the conservation and sustainability space. As a collaborative organization, well-known across the state for pragmatic solutions, the Fellow will also have the chance to engage with many other NGO’s, academic institutions, private interests, and more. Working here will help the fellow develop a better understanding of water policy, sustainable agriculture, and the operations of a non-profit organization.  

 

The GrizzlyCorps Fellow will be based out of one of three Sustainable Conservation offices: the main San Francisco office, Modesto office, or the Sacramento office.  Each of these areas has their own advantages and the Fellow will have the freedom to be based either in the heart of the valley or the big city. In Modesto, you'll find a warm, welcoming community nestled in the heart of the Central Valley, celebrated for its rich agricultural heritage and growing cultural scene. The busy capital of Sacramento offers bustling districts (Old Sac) and markets, farm-to-fork restaurants, and lively entertainment districts - all alongside the dynamic political center of California's government. While often maligned in the media, San Francisco is a hub for innovation, environmental advocacy, and social justice. Its scenic beauty, from the fog-kissed hills to the bustling waterfront, complements a city deeply committed to community and civic engagement. Come and see how overblown the reports of the city's "doom loop" really are (unless, that is, shopping is your biggest motivator - we have lost big retail downtown). Whichever you choose, you'll find a new community, learning, and adventure.

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