The Organic Agronomy Training Service (OATS) is a collaboratively managed, programmatically independent consortium of universities, NGOs, and industry representatives who envision a future where families, farms, and ecosystems are viable, healthy, and resilient. Our mission is to train agricultural professionals in the practices and principles of organic crop production so that every farmer has access to science-based agronomic support.
Our training programs focus on agricultural professionals who serve farmers on the organic spectrum, from considering, through transition, and maintaining certification. These professionals include agronomists, Certified Crop Advisors, agri-business and retail service, independent consultants, and university extension educators. We educate this audience through regionally adapted trainings across five agricultural production areas: Mid-Atlantic, Midwest East, Midwest Central, Midwest West, and Rocky Mountain West.
OATS is fiscally sponsored by the Organic Trade Association who provides non-profit oversight, financial accounting and reporting, grant administration, and general guidance. The Organic Trade Association also serves as an anchor fundraiser for OATS programming activities through its industry-invested GRO Organic Voluntary Research, Promotion, and Education Program.
The Organic Grain Agronomy & Training Specialist will serve as the lead content-area expert in developing and implementing OATS organic grain agronomy training programs throughout the five training regions. In close collaboration with the National Program Director, the Specialist will create and curate content for inclusion in OATS training materials and curriculum. The Specialist will serve as a trainer and facilitator at OATS’ distance-learning and in-person training events, in conjunction with local experts and content contributors. In addition to these responsibilities, the Specialist will execute other assorted tasks required to fulfill the OATS mission and implement its strategic plan.
A major segment of the Organic Grain Agronomy & Training Specialist scope of work includes contributing to the development and execution of a new hybrid distance-learning/in-person course for agricultural professionals on organic grain production.
Description of Hybrid Distance-Learning/In-Person Course:
This course will take an innovative approach to delivering content through a flipped classroom learning model. The course will consist of seven modules of engaging, high-production value video lessons on all aspects of organic grain production. Participants will be grouped into regional cohorts and meet by video conference to analyze and discuss each of the modules and build connections with each other. Participants will work through the content and lessons at their own pace and on their own schedule allowing them to take in the material when and how it will be most meaningful to them individually.
Each module will include exercises that the participants will complete and submit to the course facilitator for review and feedback. The course will begin (and possibly also conclude) with an on-farm session where participants will see working examples of content from the online portion of the course, hear from farmers who are successfully managing organic acres, and engage in group learning activities.
The independent distance learning modules will be comprised of highly engaging, high-production value, video-based lessons organized into the following modules:
- National Organic Program regulations, structure, and history
- Certification and record-keeping
- Soil Health: crop rotation, cover crops, and reduced tillage
- Pest and disease management
- Weed management
- Fertility management
- Marketing, economics, and profitability
Scope of Services
The Organic Grain Agronomy & Training Specialist position is a part-time contract from October 5, 2020 through December 31, 2021 with possible continuation of the contract into 2022.
Deliverables & Timeline
- Produce content for organic grain core curriculum to be used in hosting comprehensive in-person training events in all five regions – Deliver curriculum in Q4 2021
- Review resources for inclusion in online directory – Q4 2020
- Advise and inform overall training strategy for agricultural professionals – Ongoing throughout term of contract
- Co-develop content for 6 episode podcast answering the 6 top questions that skeptical agronomists have of organic grain production; Assist with recruiting interviewees; Work with audio engineer to record and edit episodes – October & November 2020
- Develop script for 7 regionally adapted video modules contained in hybrid distance-learning/in-person course – October 2020 – February 2021
- Film and edit hybrid course video modules, in collaboration with videographer – March – October 2021
- Facilitate the delivery of hybrid course for each of the 5 regional cohorts, leading the training at the video conferencing and in-person sessions – June – December 2021
- Provide input into marketing and communications strategies to promote OATS programming – Ongoing
- Assist the National Program Director as needed with tasks such as developing copy for blog articles, representing OATS at conferences and events, attending collaboration meetings, etc. – Ongoing
- Attend weekly team meetings and periodic project specific meetings – Ongoing
- Co-design and deliver training content at any in-person training intensives that may be held – Ongoing; none currently scheduled
- Develop durable education resources, as needed – Ongoing
- Demonstrated commitment to advancing organic agriculture
- Expertise in science-based organic grain crop production systems (emphasis on corn, soybean, wheat, oats, rye, and barley)
- Thorough knowledge of NOP Regulations
- Ability to communicate complex information in an engaging way
- Excellent public speaking skills
- Proficiency with the following technical platforms: Zoom, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, Google Suite including Docs, Sheet, Gmail, and Calendar
- Experience providing consulting and advising services to farmers
- Experience leading workshops/webinars/field days for agriculture-based education
- Experience facilitating distance-learning agriculture-based education such as webinars
- Experience with educational program development
- Relationships with other content area experts and industry members within OATS service region
- Hold Certified Crop Advisor qualification
- Experience with curriculum development
- 15-month part-time contract running October 5, 2020 – December 31, 2021, with possible renewal subject to quality of work product and funding
- Estimated time commitment of 1040 hours over 15 months
- Reports to the National Program Director
- Contractor to provide own office space, computer, phone, internet, and office supplies
- Legal status to work in the U.S.
Travel required (subject to COVID-19 restrictions):
- 9 to 15 one-day, in-person training events spread across all OATS service regions, July – October 2021
- On-farm filming for several weeks duration spread out from April – October 2021
- Filming locations include but are not limited to farms in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana