Director of Water and Agricultural Programs

The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Topeka, KS, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 Years)
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


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Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable.  One of our core values is our commitment to diversity. Therefore, we strive for a globally diverse and culturally competent workforce. Working in 72 countries, including all 50 United States, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.

The Nature Conservancy in Kansas has, for many decades, worked cooperatively with land managers to achieve mutual ecological and agricultural benefits in the state’s livestock grazing landscapes; this work continues as one of the organization’s top priorities.  Recognizing that the interests of healthy streams, robust wildlife populations, and secure food and water supplies cannot be wholly achieved in grazing lands alone, the Conservancy is expanding its work to include tilled croplands in priority areas, and is increasingly focusing on the state’s rivers, creeks, springs, and wetlands.
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The Director of Agriculture and Water Programs is responsible for strategic planning, execution, and partnerships necessary to achieve large-scale restoration and improvement of ecosystem functions in a manner that influences, and is compatible with, working agricultural landscapes.  Reporting to the Kansas State Director, they work with diverse stakeholders and partners (including landowners, land managers, crop advisors, non-operating landowners, corporate agriculture entities, policy makers, food supply chain entities, consumers, etc.) to achieve major, large-scale improvements in ecosystem conditions and economic benefits in priority stream systems, croplands, and grazing lands of Kansas and, in some cases, the Great Plains.  A minor responsibility of this position is to support the Great Plains Division Director by monitoring, assessing, and reporting the Conservancy’s cumulative impacts of agricultural landscape conservation across the nine-state division. The Director of Agriculture and Water Programs also serves as a member of the Kansas unit’s management team.


The Director of Water and Agricultural Programs:

  • Oversees the David T. Beals III Healthy Streams for Kansas Initiative, which is intended to improve water quality and quantity, ecosystem functions, fisheries habitats, and morphology of priority streams in Kansas.
  • Oversees and coordinates the work of other freshwater and agricultural staff.
  • In coordination with the State Director, develops and manages a sustainable agriculture program designed to provide ecological, economic, and food supply benefits of agricultural lands.
  • Uses the best available science and TNC goals at the state, regional, and global level to identify best practices for improving soil health, reducing runoff, and mitigating the ecosystem impacts of food production. Works with agricultural producers to expand implementation of those practices.
  • Convenes thought leaders in support of sustainable agriculture and healthy soils and streams.
  • Designs and manages complex projects to advance sustainable agriculture. Develops partnerships with a variety of stakeholders—individual producers, agencies, academics, corporations, nonprofits—to advance conservation goals.
  • Establishes and coordinates demonstration work on ranches and farms in Kansas.
  • With team, develops research and testing projects to designed to reduce the impacts of agriculture on ecosystems.
  • Contributes to and implements strategies to improve water quality and quantity in Kansas.
  • Assists in fundraising and develops innovative ways to finance conservation work.
  • Coordinates with Kansas trustees to support relevant Board committee functions.
  • Collaborates closely with Philanthropy, Finance, Marketing, and Operations staff.


  • Manage a team of 3-5 people and interns as needed; responsible for performance management, training, and development.
  • Collaborates with colleagues across the state, the Great Plains division, and the North America region.
  • Responsible for developing and managing a program budget.
  • Able and willing to travel frequently, sometimes on weekends and sometimes with short notice.
  • Works in variable weather conditions, at remote locations, on difficult and hazardous terrain and under physically demanding circumstances. 


  • Bachelor’s degree in agronomy, range management, ecology, or a related field and at least five year’s related experience, or equivalent combination.
  • Experience with conservation in agricultural settings, and of agricultural impacts on ecosystems.  
  • Experience developing and managing complex partnerships.
  • Experience leading people.Experience communicating with diverse stakeholders verbally, in writing, via interpersonal communication, and through presentations.


  • Deep knowledge of, and fluency in, diverse agricultural production systems, agronomy, hydrology, fluvial geomorphology and/or a related field; an advanced degree is desirable.
  • Familiarity and knowledge related to business, governmental, and/or environmental policy and practices related to agriculture, agronomy, fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, or a related field.
  • Multi-lingual skills and multi-cultural or cross-cultural experience are valuable.
  • Ability to write and speak in a language other than English, such as Spanish, is highly desirable.


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