A Sunset over Quail Springs

Land Stewardship Director

Starting in June 2024

with the opportunity to start sooner

"Quail Springs is a leading environmental educational nonprofit that empowers students of all ages and backgrounds with knowledge, skills, and inspiration essential to cultivating ecological and social health."

Our Mission Statement

Background

About our nonprofit

Quail Springs is dedicated to practicing holistic, low-cost ways of designing human environments, as well as facilitating deeper understandings of our relationships with ourselves, one another, and our local ecologies. We are continuously evolving our practices in watershed restoration, water advocacy, and dryland agriculture, and we endeavor to practice regenerative land stewardship. Ultimately, our goal is to share by example, focusing our efforts to provide environmental educational access to all, especially with our neighbors throughout the Cuyama Valley. Quail Springs is many things; you can learn more about our work here and on our Instagram.

History

Founded in 2004, Quail Springs began as a site for nature immersion programming for underserved youth. Over the years, it transformed into a vibrant community and educational center, offering Permaculture Design Courses, natural building workshops, and other nature-based education intensives. The community built various earthen structures with materials harvested from the land, centered around a permaculture demonstration farm. Hundreds of students would visit the site each year; Quail Springs has a longstanding international reputation for cultivating profound connection, inspiration, and transformation. Due to county compliance restrictions, we are not able to host onsite programming in this capacity. In recent years, we have shifted our focus to regional, grant-funded environmental justice programs in service to the people and land of the Cuyama Valley and beyond. We are in a unique, exciting time of transformation as an organization and as a community!

Location

Quail Springs is located in the Cuyama Valley of southern California on the traditional homelands of the Chumash people. The nearest small townships are Ventucopa or New Cuyama, yet we are 1.5 hours from the nearest urban/suburban center. The elevation is approximately 3,600' and the land is high desert, piñon-juniper woodland. The ruggedly beautiful Los Padres National Forest surrounds Quail Springs on three sides.

About our community

Quail Springs residents and staff are a dedicated group of solutionaries, farmers, artists, and land stewards who strive to live and work together in a way that creates an example of possibility for a regenerative human community. We foster a supportive culture through food, music, art, and reverent land tending; as well as sharing and exchanging skills and regenerative projects within the other communities we are a part of.

Some of our collectively held values include: 

  • Interdependence rather than individualism
  • Anti-oppression and anti-racism
  • Ethical food sourcing
  • Investing in hyper-local economies
  • Working towards reciprocity with all that sustains us
  • Celebration of art and play

We live with off grid infrastructure, using solar power for electricity. We have limited wifi, and no cellphone service. Our communal shower is heated by a wood fired rocket stove. We share in cooking communal meals and cleaning shifts weekly. Each employee lives in their own yurt or earthen home, heated by wood stoves in the winter. You could describe our lifestyle as “rustic.”

About our farm

Since 2004, we have been building soil and growing food in a high desert climate. We supplement purchased organic bulk foods with our own dairy, eggs, meat, greens, and herbs throughout the year. The animals on the farm currently include a goat herd with milking does, a flock of layer hens, 2 livestock guardian dogs (Great Pyrenees), and a few farm cats. Employees can expect to contribute 3-5 hours to the farm each week.

Structure

Prospective candidates will embrace simple, remote rural living in community while working within the structure of a nonprofit organization. Quail Springs follows a governance model called Sociocracy. We aim to empower employees with decision-making power in their areas of work. While we are not fully non-hierarchical, we center equity and consent while still striving for efficiency. A successful applicant will have an interest in non-hierarchical/horizontal workplace structures and a commitment to exploring them with us. To learn more, check out our webinar from earlier this year.

Position Description

Land Stewardship Director

The Land Stewardship Director will be the main land-tender for our native plant restoration work partnering with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. This person will also contribute to additional Quail Springs programs on an as-needed basis. We seek someone with a balance of expertise in the following: site-specific native plants, project management, farming, infrastructure installation (eg. irrigation and fencing), public education, and an ability/willingness to engage in physical labor. While the main focus of this role is to execute the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden grant, the Land Stewardship Director will also participate in the general work of our worker-led nonprofit, offering their time and expertise as needed. The duration of this position reflects the current timeline of the grant: summer 2024-2027.

Project Description

The primary grant funded project relevant to the role—Plant with Purpose: Conservation Outreach in the Cuyama Valley—seeks to assist small farmers and ranchers in the Cuyama Valley, a severely disadvantaged, hyper-rural, high-desert, groundwater-dependent community. The project will develop climate-smart conservation practices to conserve soil and water while creating diverse healthy habitat in the Cuyama Valley, as producers fallow land to reduce groundwater use and comply with the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Designed and implemented with local input and expertise by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG) in partnership with two Cuyama-based entities, Quail Springs and the Cuyama Valley Family Resource Center, the project will establish:

  1. a new network of underserved small farmers and ranchers to help them access conservation practices and the NRCS programs that can assist them;
  2. six demonstration sites that will exhibit the benefits of establishing locally sourced native plants, address farmer needs and improve the practice;
  3. a paid Cuyama Conservation Internship Program that will engage six 11th grade students to take part in nearly every aspect of the project alongside SBBG scientists and Quail Springs sustainability experts, encouraging a career path in conservation;
  4. conservation curricula for K-8 students.

Primary Responsibilities

Botanic Garden Grant

  • Lead Quail Springs team in our involvement as subgrantees in the project; Plant with Purpose: Conservation Outreach in the Cuyama Valley
  • Communicating and collaborating with grantors and partners at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
  • Harvesting and processing local, native seeds across sites in Cuyama Valley
  • Creating appropriate infrastructure to propagate plants on site at QS alongside our Garden and Facilities Directors
  • Installing native plants, irrigation, and fencing across six sites in the Cuyama Valley
  • Supporting our Work Trade Director to facilitate an internship program for local high school students
  • Supporting our Program Directors in teaching prewritten conservation curriculum to K-8 students of the Cuyama School District
  • Supporting our Program Directors in the creation and facilitation of the Cuyama Valley Conservation Network (CVCN) of local small farmers and ranchers

Other QS Programming

  • Participating in additional QS grant work such as installation of composting and greywater systems in public workshops. 
  • Offering expertise in California ecology, land-based living, and regenerative systems to aid in creating educational content for Quail Springs.
  • Supporting in facilitation of land-based programming and hosting, both on and off-site. For example: prepping the site, giving tours, leading workshops, preparing meals, clean up, and communicating with the QS team and our partners.

Organizational Involvement

  • Take initiative as needed to support the organization. We are a small organization, and we all find ourselves in unexpected roles. In our sociocratic governance model, all staff are involved in decision making processes that affect more than 2 circles
  • Serve as director of your organizational domain (land stewardship and Botanic Garden grant) – planning,  visioning, and facilitating decision making processes as relevant
  • Weekly attendance at team meetings 
  • Participate in collaborative management of the land
  • Participate in collaborative management 2 of cross-organizational circles
  • Check and engage daily with our internal communication system (Slack)
  • Time tracking, record tracking, and budget tracking

Time Breakdown

  • This position requires ~30hrs/week of work & additional 5-10 hours of community contribution (for example, cooking/cleaning, farm chores, common space upkeep, and general land tending)
  • Majority of time (~20 hrs/week) will be spent on the Botanic Garden grant. The remainder of time will be spent on other organizational work.
  • This is a new position created in a time of transition for our organization. Our needs are emergent, therefore this position requires considerable flexibility.

Qualities & Qualifications

Successful applicants are highly organized, flexible, solution-focused, forward-thinking, open to learning, and have an interest in equitable and resilient community structures. They will have strong computer and digital organization skills, or willingness to learn. They are personable, warm, and engaging, with a collaborative and playful spirit. Strong communication skills and an orientation towards leaning in during conflict will serve the successful candidate in this position.

We are committed to the continuing work of dismantling systems which disproportionately hurt the most marginalized people in society — including black and indigenous people of color, people from working class backgrounds, disabled people, and LGBTQ people. We believe that these communities must be centered in the work we do. We strongly encourage applications from people with these identities or who are members of other marginalized communities.

We are in a time of organizational transition – we appreciate your openness to a shifting role. With that, the position may also be flexible to accommodate the right candidate. If our desired qualifications don't resonate, we encourage you to apply anyway!

  • Knowledge of native plants & high desert ecology
  • Experience working with irrigation systems
  • Project management experience
  • Farming experience
  • Ability and interest in physical labor
  • Leadership experience
  • Spanish proficiency
  • Confidence in managing a team
  • Detail oriented and organized
  • Experience working on grants
  • Experience hosting/facilitating tours and educational programs/workshops
  • Self-directed and takes initiative on work and projects
  • Investment in community outreach and relationship building
  • Cultural sensitivity and adaptable working style
  • Exceptional communication skills, willingness to have difficult conversations, and give and receive constructive feedback. Experience with NVC and/or conflict mediation skills is a plus.
  • Ability and desire to live in community and to work well within a team
  • Willingness to engage in community chores (laundry, cleaning, cooking, farm chores, land tending, etc.)

Application

Application process

We are so grateful that you arrived here. We invite you to thoroughly read about our community and this position description. Please take your time to answer the questions in the form below intentionally so we can best get to know you. We welcome your questions and curiosities via the questions section below.

If your application is approved, we will set up interviews. We are hard-working folks on rural internet, so please be patient with response time. But also don’t hesitate to check back in on the status of your application.

Our Program Director welcomes any questions about the application, our organization, or our community. If you are invited for an interview, there will be space for this as well. We look forward to hearing from you!

Apply now

Questions?

Please let us know below if you have any questions about this position.