Open Call - Soil Carbon Field Tech (Contract - Central US based)
Yard Stick PBC
Chicago, IL, USA
Posted on Friday, February 3, 2023
Yard Stick is looking for a number of Soil Carbon Field Technicians to help us fight climate change with soil. This role is an essential part of Yard Stick’s primary on-the-ground operations, deploying our novel soil carbon measurement technology as well as traditional soil testing methodology on fields across the US. This is a contracted seasonal/part-time 1099 position. We are a small company with big ambitions, and therefore we need people who are highly entrepreneurial, reliable, comfortable with travel, and committed to working towards solving climate change.
Location flexible, and significant cross-country travel is required. Hourly pay (including pay for time spent travel), and travel expenses will be paid for.
About Yard Stick PBC
Yard Stick is a remote-first, seed-stage company, with founders based in Boston and Oakland. We are on a mission to reverse climate change with agriculture. Scientists and farmers alike know that climate-friendly agricultural practices have the potential to remove atmospheric CO2 at gigaton/year scale. When these practices are adopted, more carbon is stored in soils, improving soil health and fighting climate change. But significant measurement challenges have held soil carbon efforts back - until now.
By reducing the cost of soil carbon measurement by 90%+, Yard Stick will dramatically expand the opportunities for evidence-based regenerative practices to simultaneously improve ecosystem health, increase farmer income, and combat climate change.
Current soil carbon measurement technologies are slow, expensive, and cumbersome, relying on conventional soil cores and labs to quantify carbon stocks. In contrast, Yard Stick is fast and cheap - without sacrificing accuracy. As a testament to our technology’s potential, alongside our scientific collaborators, we were awarded a $3.6M grant from the DOE ARPA-E Smartfarm as well as other highly competitive grant programs which reward technical merit like NSF SBIR. For more background, check out some coverage in TechCrunch or Treehugger.
We've also raised money from top climate VCs, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures (Bill Gates' climate fund), Lowercarbon Capital (Chris and Crystal Sacca's climate fund), MCJ Collective, and others. Details of the financing aren’t announced in a press release or article, because that can feel a bit cart before the horse, but we're happy to share more detail about our funding when we chat.
About The Role
This Soil Carbon Tech role is critical to the success and rollout of Yard Stick’s offerings and works in-field across the country and a variety of project types to meet our R+D and client goals. The Yard Stick team and our client base is spread across the country, but our current focus is primarily in the Midwest. We’re growing quickly, and this position will be an essential role with significant responsibility.
You will be primarily responsible for testing our hardware and software in fields across the US to help us evaluate and improve our technology’s accuracy, durability, and usability. You will be leading projects geared towards calibrating our technology, as well as collecting measurements to quantify stocks on client lands using a variety of different methodologies.
You’ll provide feedback on hardware and software tools alike, as Yard Stick has innovative offerings in both domains. Obviously, when stuff breaks, you’ll document why and help us brainstorm ways to improve.
Yard Stick’s offerings combine a large number of disparate disciplines, including highly technical hardware, a web app which manages carbon measurement and GIS data, and ML pipelines which connect the two. This person ultimately will work cross-disciplinarily along with our hardware, software, soil science, and business teams alike to maximize the pace of Yard Stick’s R&D and therefore climate impact, so the ability to communicate clearly to a wide range of people is a must.
We need someone who can handle rigorous field work with efficiency and exceptional precision. The ideal candidate for this role is comfortable traveling, working outdoors, handling a wide array of equipment, and working in a team off 2-6 people through projects that can include rapid schedule changes, long days, and inclement weather.
Currently, Yard Stick is focused on proof of concept of our in situ spectral probe. Generating high-quality, publishable data requires excellent field operations. In parallel, we’re also creating our commercial offerings. This role will be crucial in carrying out both streams of work.
Qualifications - Must Have
- Some combination of education and/or experience in natural sciences, agriculture, conservation, soil science, natural resource management or another related field of study. We don’t require formal education, but one way or another, you have the experience that’ll make you comfortable on farms and around producers, and are no stranger to having your hands in the dirt.
- Extensive experience and comfort with physical field work. Experience working with your hands out in the field is key to this role. You don’t flinch at the idea of 8 hours in the sun moving from customer farm to farm, sometimes for two weeks straight.
- Comfort with field tools, technologies and strategies. Our offerings use technologies like GPS, ATVs, and mobile app-based sample inventory tracking systems. You can drive an ATV, or you’re not afraid to learn. You use mechanical tools comfortably. Note: Yard Stick will provide a vehicle if you don’t have one for this role, or will generously reimburse if you do.
- Attention to detail and commitment to craft. When you take a 30 cm soil core, it’s 30 cm. You care deeply about the details. You take written instructions well, triple-check your work by nature, and will follow an SOP to the letter. You are proud to do your work very well.
- Strong personal independence and entrepreneurial autonomy. If you can’t get your boss on the phone, you figure it out. You assess the situation, consider solutions, make a plan, and execute, even if your closest coworker is 100 miles away.
- Comfort with extended travel. Projects can often be in remote areas of the country -- spending a week or two at a time away from home is essential to this role.
- Personal enthusiasm and comfort in agricultural contexts. You care about farming or ranching. The idea of helping activate agriculture to fight against climate change excites you. It matters to you that you’re working on a problem of existential significance.
- Ability to share product feedback to improve systems. When you’re asked for feedback, you pay attention and communicate observations clearly, especially in writing. You document things carefully and are curious when using new products or technologies.
- Existing permanent authorization to work in the United States.
Qualifications - Nice To Have
- Personal, durable enthusiasm for the challenge of climate change.
- Awareness of current issues in carbon markets - particularly carbon removal. You’ve heard of offsets/credits and some of the attendant criticism of low-quality projects of the past and present. You’ve got some basic knowledge about how carbon markets work, and you’ve heard about how carbon removal is a new, exciting, and controversial approach to climate challenges.
- There will be a significant portion of the year that we’re not sampling, and we’re interested in other skills you can bring to the team! Specifically if you have any of the following, we’d love to hear about it: GIS or other mapping software; vehicle and equipment maintenance; equipment + logistics management; agricultural sales or similar; agronomy; data science, etc.
Compensation and Other Details
- $30-40/hr to start, with travel expenses (including time) paid. Performance raise after a set number of projects have been completed.
- Remote first, Midwest/Plains preferred (NE/KS/CO/IA)
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Yard Stick’s impact goals go well beyond climate science (although our #1 core value is Climate Impact). Why? Our company operates primarily in the US agricultural sector, which is predicated on centuries of mass land theft and disenfranchisement of Native and Black people. This harm continues today. If we’re going to work in this sector, we need to actively work to make it better.
Consistent with our core value of “Pursue Justice,” we speak up about these issues, and we support emerging solutions and relevant policy efforts such as H.R.40 and S.300. We also publicly highlight the risk of further racial discrimination in emerging agricultural legislation like the Growing Climate Solutions Act.
Regarding hiring and culture, we work to create a work environment where everyone feels confident sharing their ideas, problem-solving happens openly and collaboratively, and mistake-making is welcomed. We also standardize our interview process and questions to reduce “likeability” bias, benchmark salaries against industry databases to reduce negotiation, and utilize tools like the Gender Decoder (this one is feminine-coded, fwiw). Climate change is arguably the most complex challenge ever faced by humanity - we need all of humanity activated to fight back, and that motivates us to build a diverse team.