Conservation Technician

Heron Lake Watershed District

Location: Heron Lake Watershed District office, Heron Lake
Supervisor: Jan Voit, HLWD Administrator
Classification: Full Time
MN September 8, 2020


Work with private landowners and build relationships to identify tracts in which protection and restoration can provide “multiple benefits” and the highest wildlife habitat and public value within the Heron Lake watershed while providing downstream benefits to Heron Lake itself.

Summary of Position:

The Heron Lake Watershed District (HLWD) is working with partners in the Heron Lake Area Conservation Partnership (HLACP) to increase the quality and quantity of wetland wildlife habitat in the Heron Lake watershed. The focus will be on agricultural lands with drained wetlands in the Heron Lake watershed. The Conservation Technician will work with local landowners to assist partners in development and coordination of land easement and acquisition protection and restoration projects.

The HLACP seeks to protect and restore land throughout the watershed, with a focus on restoring wetlands to address water quality/quantity concerns in the HLWD. Although much of the work will focus on restoring natural or semi-natural habitats, the Conservation Technician will also explore extension of land protection and restoration into adjacent agricultural fields.


1. Proactively contact prospective landowners and explain conservation options for flood- prone land through the HLACP, Minnesota Land Trust (MLT), Reinvest In Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited (DU), Pheasants Forever (PF), and USFWS.

2. Build relationships to develop conservation and restoration opportunities. Conduct local coordination and outreach to develop trust and partnerships with landowners and local officials.

3. Assist in the development of appropriate maps and GIS data to strategically target acquired or eased lands by identifying focus areas within the Heron Lake watershed. Models will be used to identify tracts with numerous restorable wetlands adjacent to existing public and protected lands.

4. Help MLT manage field aspects of conservation easement projects within the Heron Lake watershed, including assessing the conservation merits of potential projects, negotiating and drafting conservation easements, drafting baseline documentation reports and subcontracts, overseeing the work of subcontractors, and all other tasks essential to completing conservation easement transactions. Assist PF and DU in other aspects related to fee-title land acquisition and restoration tasks as needed, especially pertaining to initial site and landowner referrals to PF and DU.

5. Ensure the successful completion of the HLACP grant. Ensure that grant deliverables are met in compliance with the standards of the HLWD and those of the funding source.

6. Participate in external outreach and communication efforts related to the HLACP and its associated land protection projects; communicate the work done with HLWD staff, board, and partners; draft correspondence, memoranda, and complex documents.

7. Cultivate strong working relationships with HLWD staff, board, private landowners, local elected officials, and partners to facilitate the completion of multiple benefit projects.

Essential Qualifications:

1. A bachelor’s degree in natural resources, sustainable agriculture systems, land management or other related field, and three years’ experience managing complex projects or conservation real estate transactions.

2. Experience and demonstrated ability to build effective partnerships, craft strategic direction, and achieve programmatic goals.

3. Demonstrated excellence in project management, record-keeping, and data management. Well organized and self-directed, with attention to detail and follow- through necessary for conservation real-estate transactions.

4. Excellent communication skills and a demonstrated ability to work with a wide variety of individuals, including landowners, partners, staff, board members, and volunteers.

5. Scientific knowledge of and field experience with the landscapes and natural resources of Minnesota, especially as it pertains to prairie wetland functions/values and restoration.

6. Experience with land and/or water conservation programs in Minnesota, including local, state, and federal agricultural lands programs, and state and federal grantprograms.

7. Proficiency with PC computer systems, Microsoft Office and GIS programs. Proficiency in understanding maps, natural resource information, and other spatial data.

8. Ability to walk uneven terrain over long distances, in remote settings, and at all times of the year.

9. A demonstrated passion for prairie wetlands and water conservation.

Preferred Qualifications:

1. Experience developing or revising conservation plans for farming operations and providing technical services to the agricultural community.

2. Background in agriculture, or strong familiarity with farming operations and practices; Experience working with private landowners to adopt conservation practices.

3. Experience with or knowledge of the primary funding sources applicable to conservation work, including the Natural Resource Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program and/or Conservation Stewardship Program, and Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and the Outdoor Heritage Fund.

4. Advanced degree in natural resources, sustainable agriculture systems, land management, or another related field.

Application Process:

Interested applicants may send a completed application form, resume, and cover letter describing work experience and reasons for desiring the Conservation Technician position to:

Jan Voit, District Administrator
Heron Lake Watershed District
PO Box 345
Heron Lake, MN 56137

Applications must be received by 4:00 p.m. on August 6, 2020.