Research Coordinator

Practical Farmers of Iowa is Hiring a Research Coordinator

Practical Farmers of Iowa is seeking a diligent and respectful person to serve as a research coordinator for the research department. For over 30 years, Practical Farmers’ Cooperators’ Program has been our vehicle for helping farmers take a scientific approach to improving their farms through on-farm research.

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.

Position Overview

PFI’s research department empowers farmers to generate and share knowledge through timely and relevant farmer-led research. We believe that real-world, applied research on farms is critical for building a better agricultural system. We also help farmers inform academic agricultural research that affects their farms by connecting researchers and farmers in meaningful dialogue and promoting the exchange of ideas.

We’re seeking a research coordinator to join a research department poised for growth in the coming years. You will support proof-of-concept investigation, ground-truthing new ideas and practices and help a range of farmers design research that can satisfy their curiosity about their farms. You will play a pivotal role in helping us expand on-farm research opportunities in Iowa and neighboring states that explore ways to maximize the climate-smart potential of soil health-promoting practices.

As the research coordinator, you’ll work with farmers of all types and farms of many sizes, from grain crops to vegetables, organic to no-till and including those with integrated crop-vegetable and livestock enterprises. These farmers are leaders among their farming peers whose work contributes to more profitable, diverse and environmentally sound farms.

If you are interested in serving and constantly learning from a community of curious and creative farmers who are transforming their farms for the better through intentional investigation, this role is for you. You’ll support the research department by:

  • Co-designing on-farm research trials with field crop and fruit and vegetable farmers. This includes helping farmers identify experimental treatments and data to collect to answer the research question, and routinely being in touch with farmers to see projects through to the end.
  • Analyzing, interpreting and visualizing results from on-farm research trials with farmers, and summarizing these results in research reports and other PFI publications while also maintaining farmer voices.
  • Helping develop new on-farm research opportunities by routinely engaging with PFI members to identify needs. and helping to seek out and apply for funding to implement program ideas.
  • Helping plan and facilitate PFI’s annual Cooperators’ Meeting every December in Ames, Iowa, where farmers gather to share what they learned through on-farm research, innovate for new project ideas and build networks.
  • Representing PFI’s on-farm research at our events and those of other organizations.

Practical Farmers offers a flexible, fast-paced work environment with opportunities for independent initiative and professional development.


  • Co-design and implement data collection and management tools with farmers for on-farm research projects:
    • Co-design randomized, replicated strip or plot trials with farmers
    • Identify experimental treatments and data to collect with farmers
    • Identify methods for collecting and recording experimental data with farmers
  • Communicate and respond to inquiries about on-farm research, and expand network of participants
    • Clearly and succinctly summarize on-farm research results for others
    • Connect inquirers with those in the PFI network who performed trials
    • Help recruit participants new to on-farm research
  • Organize and record information from research projects:
    • Maintain progress of on-farm research projects through the year
    • Keep clear, detailed records of on-farm research activities through year
    • Store information and data according to standard processes
  • Conduct statistical analysis, interpretation and visualization:
    • Use statistical software (R, JMP, SAS, etc.) and appropriate statistical models (t-test, LSD, regression, response ratios, etc.) to analyze on-farm research data
    • Interpret and visualize research results with farmers
  • Write reports and articles for PFI publications on research projects:
    • Summarize on-farm trial results into accessibly written research reports
    • Write magazine articles featuring farmers and their trials for PFI’s quarterly magazine
    • Write PFI blog posts about on-farm research
  • Plan and facilitate events with research objectives:
    • Assist with planning and facilitating PFI’s annual Cooperators’ Meeting
    • Attend and help facilitate farmer-hosted field days, webinars and conference sessions
  • Assist with writing proposals for grant opportunities
    • Help brainstorm grant proposal and project ideas
    • Help edit and proofread grant proposals
  • Other duties as assigned or volunteered to support department or team projects

Required Qualifications and Characteristics

  • Strong understanding of sustainable agriculture
  • Background in plant or soil science
  • Experience with on-farm research
  • Strong experimental design skills
  • Strong literature reviewing skills
  • Strong statistical analysis, interpretation and visualization skills
  • Strong research reporting writing skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Values science as a form of continuous learning for themselves and farmer-researchers
  • Attentive to the needs of farmer-researchers
  • Strong ability to troubleshoot and solve problems independently
  • Listens to understand

Desired Qualifications and Characteristics

  • Understanding of the social and community dimensions of agriculture
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Ability to write about science in engaging and accessible ways for public audiences
  • Grant-writing, editing and proofreading skills
  • Event planning skills
  • Public speaking and storytelling skills
  • Qualitative data analysis skills
  • Knowledge of field crop production systems
  • Knowledge of fruit and vegetable production systems

This is a full-time position based in our Ames, Iowa, office with hybrid work potential. Due to the need to engage with farmers around Iowa, this position requires some travel (mostly in Iowa) and a valid driver’s license. The starting annual salary for this position is $46,500 with the opportunity for a salary increase on an annual basis.

The position reports to Stefan Gailans, senior research manager. Practical Farmers is a family-friendly employer. The position includes full health care benefits with employer-paid premium, a flex plan, short- and long-term disability, life insurance and generous paid time off. Employer contribution to a 401k retirement plan is offered after one year of employment.

Please apply by completing an application form (including contact information, cover letter, resume and references) below.

Click here to download a pdf of the job duties and responsibilities.