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Contracting Opportunity: Peer Learning Facilitator

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is seeking a contractor to organize and lead a pilot peer-to-peer learning program for Colorado farmers and ranchers.

BACKGROUND:
The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) has been funded by the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities Program for a project called Expanding the STAR Program Across Colorado and the West. The overall goal of USDA’s program is to encourage farming and ranching practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon, ultimately building markets for “climate-smart” agricultural products. CDA is expanding its existing STAR and STAR Plus programs and providing cash incentives to farms and ranches that adopt climate-smart practices. The STAR rating system assigns a score of 1 to 5 to farm operations based on their use of practices known to improve soil health, water quality, and water availability.

As part of its USDA-funded project, CDA has asked NCAT to create peer-to-peer learning opportunities at several locations around Colorado, aimed especially at supporting STAR Plus participants. A “peer-to-peer” group is one where members learn primarily from each other instead of from outside experts.

NCAT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a long track record of commitment to peer-to-peer learning. We offer programs in sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy from our headquarters in Butte, Montana and field offices in 14 states.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES:
The main objectives of this pilot program are to (1) encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices in Colorado, (2) expand the CDA STAR and STAR Plus Programs, and (3) evaluate the effectiveness of peer-to-peer learning as a strategy for achieving the first two objectives.

The Peer Learning Facilitator will help identify, train, and support four local Coordinators. Each Coordinator will organize and lead one or two peer learning groups in coordination with conservation districts or other groups eligible to administer the STAR and STAR Plus programs. We expect to see about eight peer-to-peer learning groups with around 20 members apiece. A team from the Colorado State University Department of Sociology will study these groups to evaluate their success and learn ways to encourage and support peer-to-peer learning.

SCOPE OF WORK:
The Peer Learning Facilitator will:

  • Help identify 4 local Coordinators who will each work in a distinct geographic area.
  • Train, support, and oversee the work of the Coordinators, including organizing and leading at least three trainings per year for the Coordinators.
  • Help each Coordinator plan 2-5 peer-to-peer learning events per year.
  • Help the Coordinators create mentoring relationships between STAR Plus participants.
  • Attend at least 4 field days per year hosted by conservation districts (12 field days total).
  • Attend meetings of each peer-to-peer learning group at least once.
  • Cooperate with Colorado State University Department of Sociology on surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other project evaluations.
  • Coordinate closely with the Colorado Department of Agriculture in support of the broader goals of their project and USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program.
  • Research and prepare a short white paper on peer learning approaches used by NCAT and other groups working with U.S. producers. Identify potential areas for partnership among groups supporting producers through peer learning.
  • Submit quarterly reports to NCAT.

CONTRACT TERMS AND BUDGET:
The work will take place from April 1, 2024 to December 31, 2026 and is expected to average about 10 hours per week. Most or all work will take place in Colorado. Labor will be compensated at a rate of $60 per hour, and the Facilitator will also have a travel budget of $5,000 per year ($15,000 total). Travel reimbursement will follow federal travel guidelines. Total compensation for labor, travel, and materials over the entire period of the contract must not exceed $100,000.

The Facilitator’s relationship to NCAT will be that of an independent contractor rendering specifically delegated professional services. The Facilitator will sign a contract agreeing to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and ordinances of the Federal, State, and local government with respect to conduct of business as an independent contractor. This includes duties under the Federal Social Security, income tax laws, duties arising under state laws, and regulations related to worker’s compensation insurance coverage. The Facilitator will be required to acquire and maintain business insurance and adequate auto insurance coverage meeting at least the minimum requirements mandated by the Colorado Department of Moter Vehicles throughout the entirety of the contract.

QUALIFICATIONS:
Required qualifications:

  • Located in Colorado.
  • Familiar with Colorado agriculture and conservation practices.
  • Experience in group facilitation.
  • Keen listening and observation skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Has access to a dependable vehicle and is able and willing to travel around the state as needed to complete job duties.
  • Reliable Internet with speed high enough for e-mail, Zoom meetings, and sharing large files.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience or familiarity with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and CDA’s Soil Health, STAR, and STAR Plus programs.
  • Experience or familiarity with “climate-smart” farming and ranching practices.
  • Experience working with Colorado conservation districts.
  • Training, experience, or professional certifications in social work, social sciences, conflict resolution, or related fields.

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:
To apply for this position, please email a letter of interest to Mike Morris at NCAT, mikem@ncat.org describing your qualifications and relevant experience. The letter itself should be no more than two pages long, but
attachments (such as a resume or samples of your work) are allowed.

The hiring schedule is:

  • March 10, 2024: Deadline to receive letters of interest.
  • March 11-15: Interviews with finalists (if necessary).
  • April 1: Start date.

The deadline to submit letters of interest is March 10, 2024.

Any additional questions about the application process can be directed to:

Kriss Sullivan, Director of Human Resources
e-mail: jobs@ncat.org

NCAT’s mission is to help people build resilient communities through local and sustainable solutions that reduce poverty, strengthen self-reliance, and protect natural resources. Our work brings together diverse partnerships and communities to help reduce poverty and protect our natural resources. We strive to be a multicultural organization that embraces the rich dimensions of diversity such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, religious or political belief and marital or veteran status. Diversity creates healthy communities. Special consideration will be given to applicants who are reflective of the communities that we serve. NCAT is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

For additional information about NCAT please visit our homepage at www.ncat.org.