Location: State of Illinois

American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and helped thousands of farm families make a go of it (primarily through programs that increase farm viability and/or enhance farmland access). Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities.

We believe diversity drives innovation.  We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental value and dignity of all our employees. We celebrate the unique traditions, heritages, and experiences our employees bring to the workplace. We are committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes and values diversity, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work every day.

We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which we have facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.


The Midwest State Policy Manager position offers an exciting opportunity to help carry out the policy agenda of a growing, forward-looking agricultural conservation organization. The Policy Manager will work closely with the Midwest Regional staff, the AFT Policy team, consultants, and external partners to advocate for policies and programs that save the land that sustains us.

The Policy Manager will support broader efforts to develop and grow these programs. They will have the opportunity to work across teams within AFT’s Midwest Region, as well as with external partners including farmers, landowners, agricultural professionals, and institutional leaders.

What You’ll Be Working On

  • Cultivating and maintaining strong relationships with state and federal officials, leaders of agricultural and conservation organizations, food and community groups and others;
  • Analyzing state and federal legislation, budgets and administrative rules as well as conducting research to advance AFT’s policy positions;
  • Coordinating grassroots advocacy among local governments, land trusts, farm and food organizations and others;
  • Helping farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change and protect water quality;
  • Assisting in the development of work plans, budgets and fundraising strategies for projects in the Midwest;
  • Reporting regularly to the Midwest Regional Director on progress and opportunities within the Midwest.
  • Permanently protecting farmland in the Midwest with an emphasis in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan;
  • Advocating for programs to support a new generation of farmers in accessing and transferring farmland in IL;
  • Attending and participating in advocacy meetings, including assisting with preparation of materials, agenda, and presentations; note taking during meetings; and supporting follow-up communications;
  • Representing the organization before public agencies, policy makers, and community stakeholders in public meetings, the media, conferences and other events.
  • Organizing outreach among partner organizations and coalitions to state and federal leaders in of support for key policies and programs;
  • Developing events and other activities to engage key state leaders and lawmakers;
  • Assisting with policy research and development of publications to advance policy goals, including farm to institution, farmland protection, farmland access, renewable energy siting, and soil health initiatives that help farmers combat climate change;
  • Helping to coordinate programs for a diversity of stakeholders across multiple formats, such as webinars, networking events, and educational workshops;
  • Assisting with coordinating internal meetings and communications to ensure timely completion of program activities;
  • Assisting with content development and delivery for social media campaigns, virtual lobby days, regular email updates, and other digital communications;
  • Working with AFT staff, consultants, and the Development Division to develop proposals and secure funds for initiatives and projects;
  • Coordinating with Federal and State Agency Staff including IDOA, EPA, and DNR to facilitate discussions centered around strengthening IL’s commitment to expanding the role of agriculture in achieving the state’s climate goals.
  • Leading the Fall Covers for Spring Saving Advisory committee and coordinating program efforts with partners and the Illinois Department of Agriculture;
  • Advancing the impact of Saving Tomorrows Agriculture Resources (S.T.A.R.) program in state and federal programs;
  • Representing AFT on committees and in coalitions such as the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Policy Working Group, Ag Water Quality Partnership Committee and IL’s Ag Policy Coalition.

Required Qualifications & Experience

The Policy Manager must be outgoing and energetic, organized, a thorough and proven researcher, and capable of working independently and as part of a team.  The ideal candidate is comfortable regularly interacting with a diverse audience – including elected officials and their staff; state leaders; farmers; organizations in the agricultural, environmental, education, public health, and renewable energy sectors; and others, and possesses:

  • A BA or BS degree and 5+ years of related work experience in political science, public policy, agriculture, environment, land conservation or natural resource planning. An advanced degree in one or more of the disciplines noted may substitute for one year of work experience;
  • Excellent research skills and ability to summarize difficult concepts succinctly;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • Proven experience in collaborating with diverse partners to advance policy goals is valuable, along with the ability to lead and support policy coalitions;
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize multiple tasks, stay organized and ability to work independently;
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Office, Teams and SharePoint; experience with web design, Salsa, and social media are preferred;
  • Familiarity with federal, state and/or local policy making process; and
  • Willingness to attend meetings and conferences both regionally and statewide; and work independently and remotely.

Why you should apply

  • Be a part of a purpose-driven, committed, knowledgeable, high-performing, experienced and fun team
  • A diverse and inclusive work environment
  • A cause and mission you can be proud of
  • Competitive compensation & Benefits
  • Remote work opportunities
  • Flexible scheduling