Water Steward Position Announcement

Terms: 1.0 FTE (full-time), Salary DOE ($43,000 – $53,000)
Benefits: Paid Time Off (12-24 days/year depending on tenure), Paid Holidays (10/year), Paid Sick Days (6/year), Paid Health Insurance, Simple IRA with matching employer contribution, Travel Reimbursement, Cell Phone Stipend
To Apply: Submit cover letter and resume in one combined PDF document to Deb Dillree at office@blackfootchallenge.org.
Deadline: Friday, June 3, or until position is filled.
Start Date: Immediately

Position Description:
This full-time position coordinates the Blackfoot Challenge Water Program. This position will steer a variety of projects and partnerships aimed at conserving and enhancing water resources in the Blackfoot watershed. The Water Steward reports directly to the Executive Director and Water Committee Chair, and works collaboratively with the BC Board and staff, numerous agencies and businesses, and local landowners. This position is also responsible for researching, writing, and reporting on numerous government and foundation grants to support the Water Program. The ideal candidate will have highly developed communication skills with an emphasis on listening and learning from landowners and partners to co-generate project-based solutions.

Work Location:
The Water Steward will provide services in the Blackfoot watershed and may work from home or at the Blackfoot Challenge offices located in Ovando and Missoula. Attendance will be required at monthly Blackfoot Challenge Board of Director meetings. The Water Steward position will attend other meetings in the Blackfoot watershed or surrounding areas as needed. Limited travel in Montana, regionally and nationally may be required.

Position Priorities:

The Blackfoot Challenge is seeking to expand our Water Program to more proactively predict and respond to changes in the landscape related to water quantity and water quality in the face of climate change. The Water Steward will be tasked with identifying watershed science needs, developing program ideas that can ensure the sustainability of irrigated agriculture, and designing projects that support long-term ecological drought resilience.

TASK 1: Water Program Planning, Outreach & Projects (50%)

  • Develop overall vision for a water program that can respond to the increasing pressures of climate change.
  • Manage the Blackfoot Water Committee and associated subcommittees.
  • Work with partners to identify, fund, and implement water conservation projects, particularly projects with a focus on climate resilience – such as low-tech restoration and natural water storage.
  • Collect and synthesize current science related to climate change, water resources and agriculture to inform Blackfoot water program work.
  • Facilitate community meetings and discussions about key watershed priorities, including recreational use impacts.
  • Facilitate the Blackfoot Restoration Committee in partnership with BBCTU and coordinate with committee members on shared stream restoration goals and projects.
  • Review and update the Blackfoot Watershed Restoration Plan.
  • Develop and manage relationships with watershed funders, partners and managers from throughout the Clark Fork Basin, Montana and the West.
  • Plan and provide community outreach, workshops and tours on water-related topics.
  • Identify prospects, apply, and secure funding for drought response, irrigation efficiency, monitoring and science, restoration projects, and program coordination.
  • For all elements of the water program, track program progress, evaluate success, and report to funding sources.

TASK 2: Drought Response & Drought Resilience (30%)

  • Supervise Blackfoot Drought Technician.
  • Plan and facilitate meetings of the Blackfoot Drought Committee and subcommittees.
  • Manage implementation and outreach efforts for the Blackfoot Drought Response Plan. Produce a monthly review of basin water supply data, coordinate outreach to water users and the general public, and implement the Drought Response Plan.
  • Oversee development and implementation of individual drought plans with irrigators. With the Drought Technician, update individual plans and develop new drought plans for landowners who need to be incorporated due to the Milltown water right.
  • Facilitate ongoing coordination with the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
  • Oversee and plan flow monitoring activities with Drought Technician to support the development of water conservation projects and measure drought response efficacy.
  • Identify and develop stream and irrigation projects that support drought resilience.

TASK 3: Irrigation Water Management & Efficiency (20%)

  • Implement the Irrigation Water Management Program, securing all services to implement project activities and managing contracts.
  • Conduct education and outreach opportunities to promote participation in the program.
  • Edit, update and distribute Blackfoot irrigation guide and reference materials.
  • Coordinate irrigator participation in irrigation scheduling program and requests for irrigation and soil health technical services.
  • Work with Blackfoot land steward to develop and implement a soil health program, including community meetings, field tours, and technical services.
  • Coordinate soil moisture monitoring and disseminate information to support efficient irrigation practices.
  • Coordinate irrigation efficiency services and support landowners in securing cost-share for equipment upgrades.
  • Work with partners and irrigators to implement water conservation measures on irrigation water conveyance systems.

Other Responsibilities & Deliverables:

  • Actively cultivate an enthusiastic and positive organizational culture while demonstrating a commitment to BC’s mission of enhancing rural communities through collaborative conservation.
  • Attend staff meetings, board meetings, and Blackfoot Challenge sponsored events.
  • Participate in organization-wide planning, budgeting, and fundraising as determined by Board and Executive Director direction.
  • Perform additional duties as needed by the organization with a good attitude and team spirit.
  • Blackfoot Challenge Board will commit to fostering a positive, supportive, and reasonably flexible work environment for staff.
  • Turn in monthly timesheets by the 3rd day of each month.
  • Turn in Committee Updates highlighting Committee activities from the previous month by the 3rd day of each month.
  • Submit End of Year Summary for Annual Report.
  • Submit year-end deliverables including Workplans, Budget, Scope of Work, Committee Lists, & Match tracking.


  • A bachelor’s degree in natural resource management, water resources or related field as a minimum; Master’s Degree preferred.
  • At least three to five years of experience managing a community-based conservation program or similar program that includes a focus on watershed science, ecology, water rights, and/or agricultural water use.
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Experience with GIS preferred.
  • Experience developing grant proposals and reporting to funders.
  • Candidate must place high value on collaboration and have the ability to communicate effectively with private landowners, federal and state agency partners, and community members.
  • Willingness and desire to be a team player within a collaborative, respectful, and solutions-oriented work culture.
  • Ability to work long hours outside in all weather conditions, walk 3+ miles over uneven terrain, and lift 50lbs.
  • Travel required; must possess a valid driver’s license and personal vehicle.

Basic Knowledge, Experience & Skills:

  • Must support the mission and community-based approach of the Blackfoot Challenge.
  • Must maintain a working knowledge of Blackfoot Challenge programs organizational goals.
  • Must have basic computer skills including Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Appreciation of watershed group dynamics and resource partnerships.

Desired Knowledge, Experience, & Skills:

  • Experience working with a variety of private landowners and public managers is desired.
  • Knowledge of Blackfoot Valley and rural communities.
  • Positive attitude and a good sense of humor.

The Blackfoot Challenge will conduct background checks on all final candidates, and offers of employment are contingent upon those results. In order to provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all individuals, employment decisions at the Blackfoot Challenge will be based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. The Blackfoot Challenge does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices because of race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, military status, or mental or physical disability.