Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs

Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs

Job, Internship, and Fellowship Openings for Students and Alumni of the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs

American Farmland Trust
Fully Remote, Virginia
Mid-Atlantic Smart Solar Specialist

About Us

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 Mid-Atlantic Solar Specialist (Specialist) works across regional and national divisions to help develop and implement AFT’s Smart Solar principles and strategies at the intersection of solar energy generation and farmland conservation. The position will both advance specific national Smart Solar initiatives, and lead program development in the Mid-Atlantic Region (Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania) with an emphasis on Virginia. The Specialist will collaborate closely with AFT’s national smart solar director, regional teams, AFT’s policy, climate, and communications experts and other staff to ensure that AFT’s programming is funded, strategic, synergistic, and impactful.

What You’ll Be Working On

The Specialist will play a leadership role in developing and managing Smart Solar initiatives and support services for farmers and landowners, identifying key partners and collaborators, and leveraging funding for AFT’s Smart Solar program in the Mid-Atlantic Region. With substantial solar development expected in the next 5-10 years and increasing pressures on the region’s most productive, versatile, and resilient farmland, the Specialist will be a regional voice and trusted resource in strategies to integrate solar energy development with agricultural land protection, regenerative farming practices, farm viability, land access, and other aspects of AFT’s programs. Building on AFT’s Smart Solar leadership in other regions of the country, this is an exciting and pivotal opportunity to shape and develop the foundation for AFT’s Smart Solar work in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Specialist will work within AFT’s Mid-Atlantic Region and collaborate with other AFT regional Solar Specialists, contractors, researchers, and consultants engaged in solar land use policy, research, communications, and other programs across AFT.

The Specialist will report to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. This is a full-time remote position and Specialist will ideally be based in Virginia or Maryland.

Duties and responsibilities include:

  • Work in partnership with the Regional Director and team to design, prioritize, fund, and implement Smart Solar programming in the Mid-Atlantic region with a focus on supporting farmers, advancing dual-use/agrivoltaics, and educating decision-makers on policy solutions.
  • Develop and deliver farmer and farmland owner focused education and support on the risks, opportunities, and considerations associated with leasing land for solar energy.
  • Collaborate with organizations, solar companies, land management agencies, researchers, and others to incentivize, support, fund, and implement pilot projects that demonstrate the potential application for agrivoltaics.
  • Support regional and national staff to track state and select local energy, land use and climate policies and proactively engage with state agencies, agricultural interests, and other key AFT stakeholders to communicate policy impacts, benefits, and costs to farmers and farmland.
  • Be familiar with and, as directed, assist in educating farmers about resources and funding opportunities for on-farm solar energy production primarily for on-farm use. Work thoughtfully and strategically across regional and national divisions to help formulate, align and maximize AFT’s strategies, policies, and tactics relative to solar energy development.
  • Cultivate significant relationships with solar and agricultural industry leaders, trade associations, and others in AFT’s growing Smart Solar network with a focus on increasing awareness of farmland conservation issues and building regional partnerships for research, policy, and AFT programs.
  • Represent AFT in relevant stakeholder coalitions, state and regional policy working groups, and other public and collaborative processes related to solar energy.
  • Help cultivate significant relationships with government, foundation, and individual funders to assure sustainable funding for AFT’s Smart Solar programming and services in partnership with AFT’s fundraising teams.
  • Design and support corporate partnership opportunities with solar developers and other entities involved in Smart Solar efforts.
  • Communicate with stakeholders, funders, government organizations, the media, and the public about AFT’s regional work at the intersection of solar energy and agriculture.
  • Collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to coordinate and deliver education for farmland protection professionals around the use of Smart Solar in multi-benefit land repurposing programs.
  • Provide thought leadership and support to other AFT divisions outside of the Mid-Atlantic region as they seek to build capacity and explore policy priorities on solar.


  • Familiarity with the state and regional policy landscape for solar development, climate smart agricultural practices, agrivoltaics, and farmland protection across the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Familiarity with farming and grazing practices, agricultural systems, landscapes, and farm viability issues in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Strong relationships with solar development community, agricultural and land conservation community, and other networks.
  • Experience and comfort interacting with diverse stakeholders including farmers, agricultural landowners, solar developers, advocates, agency staff, extension educators, elected officials, and funders.
  • Passion for collaboration, applied research, and solutions to tackle complex issues that include climate change, farmland protection, and solar energy development.
  • Demonstrated experience in and extensive understanding of solar energy development, ideally with expertise in public policy relative to solar energy development, including origination, permitting, community engagement, and awareness of related siting issues including land-use planning and farmland impacts.
  • Technical understanding and awareness of energy development issues in the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Track record of translating ideas into action and action into impact by developing and implementing effective strategies, projects and programs.
  • Excellent project management skills and experience working in diverse teams of colleagues, peers, and external partners.
  • Lived experience with and/or demonstrated commitment to advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as with cross-functional teams, and success in a position that worked across traditional reporting lines. Specialist should possess high levels of self-motivation with a demonstrated ability to work remotely.
  • Excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills with demonstrated public speaking and presentation skills.
  • A collaborative, professional, and innovative approach to tackling complex issues.
  • Ability to thrive and deliver high quality outcomes in a dynamic, growing organization often under time pressure.
  • Frequent travel throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region is expected as the programming and services are developed, with some additional travel possible to attend national conferences, forums, and meetings in furtherance of national Smart Solar goals and objectives. Must be based in the Mid-Atlantic Region, with a preference for candidates based in Virginia or Maryland.

Education & Experience

A minimum of 5 years of combined related work experience in energy development (preferably solar), agriculture, farmer support services, fundraising, public policy, public administration, and/or program management.

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

Ready to apply? If this job sounds like a fit for you, then click on the ‘apply’ button below. Please answer the screener questions and be sure to include a cover letter and resume to be considered.

Salary Description

$70,000 - $80,000