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Conference and Events Coordinator
****This position has been filled.
Practical Farmers of Iowa is a nonprofit organization that has worked to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities since 1985. We create learning opportunities via farmer-led events, on-farm research and educational content through our robust network of farmers. We also provide funding and technical assistance to help farmers adopt regenerative farming practices and grow farm businesses. Our vision is an Iowa with healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities.
This work has always been rooted in our value of welcoming everyone and creating a culture of mutual respect. We believe that a diversity of people, ideas and perspectives strengthens our ability to find creative solutions, enriches our understanding and broadens our impact. At Practical Farmers, we celebrate this diversity and are committed to ensuring that our policies and practices create an equitable and inclusive workplace. We take equal opportunity seriously and seek to empower and support all applicants and teammates.
Practical Farmers offers a flexible, supportive and fast-paced work environment. Professional development is a core part of our culture and team members are encouraged to take independent initiative to help fulfill our mission.
About the Position
The farmer-led education department is a collaborative, dynamic team that stewards a diverse network of farmers and creates opportunities and platforms for farmers to share their knowledge and experiences with one another. As a team, the farmer-led education department organizes over 200 education opportunities each year, including 40-plus field days, a webinar series, workshops, peer-group meet-ups, socials, and conferences. With the farmer-led education senior manager, this position will provide leadership, coordination and planning for PFI’s annual conference, which welcomes over 1,000 attendees and 60-plus sessions each year.
Beyond the annual conference, the conference and events coordinator will provide holistic event planning, design and logistics support for PFI’s other conferences and workshops, including the Midwest Covers and Grains Conference, Beginning Farmer Summit, Cooperators’ Meeting, PFI member socials, donor events and all-staff gatherings. The conference and events coordinator will also manage planning and operations for PFI’s larger booths at outreach events including the Farm Progress Show.
The conference and events coordinator should be enthusiastic about ensuring events meet the needs of collaborating teams (operations, farm viability, research), and the expectations of attendees and farmer-leaders. Sometimes this will require listening, supporting and delivering; other times this will require fresh ideas, innovation and leadership.
In addition to managing components of these events, the conference and events coordinator will help other staff members effectively navigate PFI’s process for planning and promoting smaller events, and will assist the farmer-led education senior manager with department-wide tasks including speaker agreements and survey intake prep.
Strong candidates for this position will approach their work with a sense of humor, an abundance mindset, willingness to accommodate individual needs or changes, excellent prioritization and time management skills and attention to detail in follow-through.
Coordinate and facilitate various aspects of the annual conference and other assigned PFI events.
Working with the farmer-led education senior manager and other staff, provide holistic event planning, coordination and on-site management for PFI’s annual conference and other assigned events. This includes:
- Updating and adhering to project management timelines and tasks
- Receiving and handling requests from external groups and individuals related to the conference
- Being a point person to solve issues that arise during the event
- Independently organizing specific components of the conference, including the PFI dinner and, on occasion, sessions and speakers.
- Preparing and submitting invoices
Provide planning, logistics and on-site support for assigned events in collaboration with PFI’s four departments: farmer-led education, farm viability, research and operations. This includes:
- Providing on-site registration and staffing support, as needed
- Coordinating local foods purchases for events where needed
- Coordinating venue and caterer logistics where needed
- Other assigned events may include: Midwest Covers and Grains Conference, Cooperators’ Meeting, Beginning Farmer Summit, donor and fundraiser events, PFI socials, Farm Progress Show and other tradeshow booths, and PFI staffwide events.
Enter data and record agreements with organizations and speakers, as well as payment for the annual conference and other events.
Design and implement data collection tools for selected event evaluations and speaker agreements.
Train and provide technical assistance to PFI staff in the farm viability, research and operations departments to ensure alignment with internal event planning, promotion and tracking processes.
Required Qualifications and Characteristics
- Is a leader and problem-solver with an eye for collaboration and continuous improvement.
- Excellent time and priority management skills
- Can collaborate with flexibility and willingness to accommodate individual needs or changes
- Confident managing preparations, on-site logistics and issues that arise during a conference or event
- Must be able to juggle many tasks and details with an eye on the big picture
- Demonstrates self-management and emotional intelligence
- Demonstrates appropriate and transparent decision-making
- Strong written and verbal professional communication skills
- Demonstrated ability to organize events
- Experience working with local foods caterers and venue logistics
- Experience with conference or large-event planning
- Ability to work well with others and independently
- Ability to follow procedures and work within multiple systems to document, track and report on project activities and outcomes
- Passion for the mission of PFI
- Working knowledge of Microsoft Office products including Excel, Word and PowerPoint
- Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends
- Ability to travel occasionally throughout the Midwest
Desired Qualifications and Characteristics
- Working knowledge of Microsoft Fundraising & Engagement, Marketing or other CRMs
- Working knowledge of project management software (such as Airtable)
- Experience leading the planning and task delegation of large events or conferences
- Knowledge of Midwestern agricultural systems and sustainable agriculture concepts
- Two years of professional experience
- Familiarity with PFI and its programing
- Conflict management experience
- Knowledge of and experience with conference and meeting design and facilitation strategies
This is a full-time position based in our Ames, Iowa, office. The starting salary is $46,500 with annual opportunity for merit-based salary increases and position advancement. This position requires some travel (mostly in Iowa), a valid driver’s license, the ability to lift 50 pounds and the ability to walk long distances.
PFI values its employees and offers a flexible and supportive work environment. Employees are offered a competitive benefits package that includes health insurance with employer-paid premium, generous paid time off, flexible hours, paid parental leave, a 4% automatic 401k contribution after one year of employment and professional development opportunities. Practical Farmers is a family-friendly employer.
Please apply by completing an application form (including contact information, cover letter, resume and references) below. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.