Soil Conservationist (Direct Hire)
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Please click the external application link on Handshake to see the full job announcement and to apply.
Open & closing dates
- 01/08/2021 to 07/15/2021
Pay scale & grade
- GS 5 – 9
- $35,265 to $69,462 per year
10 vacancies in the following locations:
Relocation expenses reimbursed
Yes as determined by agency policy
This job is open to
Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL)
Apply through the external application link on Handshake
- This vacancy will be filled using the Office of Personnel Management’s Direct-Hire Authority. Veterans’ preference and traditional rating and ranking of applicants do not apply to positions filled under this announcement. For more information on OPM’s authorization of Direct Hire Authority, please visit, https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-information/direct-hire-authority/
- Learn more about this agency
- Assists in gathering and assembling preliminary data for all resource concerns for use in developing complete basic farm conservation plans.Understands all applicable NRCS and Farm Bill programs available to address resource concerns and explains cost share programs and payment procedures to applicants and contract holders.Carries out a follow-up schedule for applying soil conservation practices in accordance with plan and contract schedules.With supervision, utilizes most current technology programs in the documentation and management of conservation plans and technical assistance by the service center.
- Occasional travel – You may be expected to travel for this position.
Job family (Series)
Conditions of Employment
- You must be a US Citizen or US National.Males born after 12/31/1959 must be Selective Service registered or exempt.Subject to satisfactory adjudication of background investigation and/or fingerprint check.Successful completion of one-year probationary period, unless previously served.Direct Deposit ? Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to their financial institution.Successfully pass the E-Verify employment verification check. To learn more about E-Verify, including your rights and responsibilities, visit E-Verify at https://www.e-verify.gov/.Must possess and maintain a valid state motor vehicle operator’s license for the type of vehicle(s) operated to perform the duties of this position.Incumbent is required to obtain Conservation Planning Level certification.
- Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including specialized experience and/or education, as defined below.
- Basic Education Requirement:
- Degree: soil conservation or related agricultural or natural resource discipline such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering. The study must have included 30 semester hours in a natural resource or agricultural field, including at least 12 semester hours in a combination of soils and crops or plant science. Of the 12 semester hours, a minimum of 3 semester hours must have been in soils and 3 semester hours in crops or plant science;
- Combination of Education and Experience: At least 30 semester hours in one or more of the disciplines as shown above, including at least 12 semester hours in a combination of soils and crops or plant science, plus appropriate experience or additional education comparable to a 4 year degree. Of the 12 semester hours, a minimum of 3 semester hours must have been in soils and 3 semester hours in crops or plant science.Evaluation of Education: Education that provided specialized knowledge and skills in soil and water conservation is more valuable than education that imparted broad but general knowledge and skills. Courses in soil fertility, soil chemistry, soil genesis, plant physiology, plant science, and field crops are examples of specialized courses that contribute towards meeting the required 12 semester hours as described above. Courses in the physical sciences or engineering such as geology, civil engineering, and hydrology also meet the soils, crops, or plant science course requirements where such courses included a complete introduction to the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils.Evaluation of Experience: Experience that included the application of techniques, principles, and methods from a variety of agricultural and natural resource fields is appropriate, given the interdisciplinary character of the soil conservation occupation. For example, experience gained in a specialized field such as soil science, forestry, or agronomy is as fully acceptable as experience directly obtained in soil conservation work.
- In addition to meeting one of the Basic Requirements listed above, applicants must meet the following Minimum Qualifications Requirement in order to be considered:
- GS-5 Grade Level: Meet the Basic Requirement listed above.
- Specialized Experience to qualify for the GS-07 level: You must have at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-5 level or higher in the Federal service (or private sector equivalent) demonstrating experience and knowledge of the application of routine principles, concepts and methodology associated with natural resources, practical experience assisting in providing routine technical advice in soil conservation plans while meeting deadlines and priorities in which any deviations or problems are referred to the supervisor;
- Superior Academic Achievement in a bachelor’s degree curriculum directly related to the work of the position. To qualify for superior academic achievement, you must have ONE of the following: (1) standing in the upper third of your college class or major subdivision at the time you apply; (2) grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent for all courses completed, either (a) at the time of application or (b) during the last 2 years of your undergraduate curriculum; (3) B+ (3.5 on a 4.0 scale) or its equivalent for all courses completed in a related discipline, either (a) at the time of application or (b) during the last 2 years of your undergraduate curriculum; OR (4) election to membership in one of the national honorary scholastic societies that meets the requirements of the Association of College Honor Society;
- Substitution of education in lieu of specialized experience for the GS-07 level: Possess one year of graduate level education in soil conservation or a related agricultural or natural resource discipline such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering;
- Combination of Education and Experience: A combination of graduate-level education and experience, as described above, may be used to qualify for this position. This combination must have equipped you with the necessary knowledge and/or experience to successfully perform the duties of this position. Combinations of experience and education must total at least 100% as outlined in OPM Qualifications policy.
- Specialized Experience to qualify for the GS-09 level: You must possess at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-07 level or higher in Federal service, or comparable experience not gained through Federal service demonstrating experience and knowledge of the application of the principles, concepts and methodology associated with natural resources. For this position specialized experience is defined as experience independently providing technical advice to address soil and water resource concerns and implement conservation planning. Examples of specialized experience include:Examples of specialized experience include:
- Demonstrating experience applying conventional and established conservation methods and techniques to maintain or improve production while conserving soil and water resources
- Developing natural resource conservation plans for land owners, conservation groups or units of local government involving a variety of soil patterns and conservation practices such as contours, terraces, tilling, diversions, etc.
- Identification and inventory of natural resources by obtaining physical data on multiple land uses such as crop history, soil erosion data, drainage characteristics,field arrangement, problem areas, land use data, and conservation practices present
- Assisting in the evaluation of onsite urban, rural, or wetland conservation needs and applying land treatment measures including the installation of erosion and water control practices;
- Substitution of education in lieu of specialized experience for the GS-09 level: possess 2 year(s) of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master’s degree or master’s or equivalent graduate degree in soil conservation or a related agricultural or natural resource discipline such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering;
- Combination of Education and Experience: A combination of graduate-level education and experience, as described above, may be used to qualify for this position. This combination must have equipped you with the necessary knowledge and/or experience to successfully perform the duties of this position. Combinations of experience and education must total at least 100% as outlined in OPM Qualifications policy.For more information on the qualifications for this position, click here: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/classification-qualifications/general-schedule-qualification-standards/#url=GS-PROFExperience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.
- You must submit a copy of your college transcripts or a list of college courses with credit hours, dates completed, and grades received to verify all education requirements (i.e. substitution of education and/or basic education requirement). If a relevant course is not clearly qualifying (e.g. special topic, seminar, research, thesis, obscure or misleading course title, etc.), please submit an official course syllabi and/or detailed course description from the university/college for that particular course to ensure you are properly evaluated. Please note that qualifications determinations are based solely on the information submitted for each particular vacancy announcement. You must document all requirements on every vacancy; we cannot use previous determinations as a basis for rating. All required information must be received by the closing date of this announcement, and non-submission of all required documents/documentation will result in non-consideration. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted. This information must be received by the closing date of this announcement. Non-submission of these documents will result in non-consideration.
- If you have not yet conferred your degree or certificate, but will within 180 days of the closing date of this announcement, a letter from the school documenting current standing, degree being obtained and expected graduation date must be submitted with your application.
- Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Applicants must, therefore, only report attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants can verify accreditation via this link. All education claimed by applicants will be verified accordingly. Important: If you are using foreign education to meet qualification requirements, you must send a Certificate of Foreign Equivalency with your transcript in order to receive credit for that education. Click on this link for more information.
- Location Consideration: You may select up to three locations.
- Locality Pay: The salary for each location may vary depending on locality. Locality tables my be found at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/.
- Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): Visit the OPM website for information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible. To exercise selection priority for this vacancy, CTAP/RPL/ICTAP candidates must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors. CTAP/ICTAP candidates will be manually reviewed to make “well qualified” determinations. “Well qualified” will be defined by applicants who meet over 80% of the duties associated with NRCS Standard Soil Conservationist PD.
- If you are selected for a position with further promotion potential, you will be placed under a career development plan, and may be non-competitively promoted if you successfully complete the requirements and if recommended by management. However, promotion is neither implied nor guaranteed.
- Management may select at any grade level.
- Physical Demands: The work requires regular and recurring physical exertion related to conservation work requiring walking on rough terrain, jumping ditches and furrows, or climbing steep banks and similar activities.
- Work Environment: The work involves regular and recurring exposure to operating agricultural equipment including tractors, caterpillars and a wide variety of attached implements such as cultivators, discs, plows, etc. There may be exposure to snow and ice conditions, and herbicide and chemical spray operations requiring safety precautions. Protective gear and clothing such as hard hat, boots, and gloves may be necessary.
- PLEASE NOTE: In the interest of filling these positions as efficiently as possible, we are requiring the following:
- If called for an interview, applicants must be available to interview within 3 business days of being contacted.
- If a tentative job offer is extended, selectee will have 2 business days in which to accept or decline.
- Promotion Potential: If you are selected for a position with further promotion potential, you will be placed under a career development plan, and may be non-competitively promoted if you successfully complete the requirements and if recommended by management. However, promotion is neither implied nor guaranteed.
- Duty Location: Duty Locations will be discussed upon interview.
- THIS IS AN OPEN CONTINUOUS ANNOUNCEMENT. This type of announcement provides NRCS the with a readily available source of applicants when vacancies occur. Eligibility and qualifications will be verified when there is a vacancy for the location and grade for which you applied.
- This is a direct hire solicitation, open continuous announcement; This Posting will close on July 15th 2021, or when all positions are filled. The first cut-off date is within 14 days of the open date of this public notice.
- Other certificates may be issued as needed.
- Relocation/Recruitment incentives may be authorized (Tentative selectees will be asked to sign a mobility agreement prior to final selection.)
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How You Will Be Evaluated
- You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
- You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
- This is a Direct-Hire Authority position, all applicants who meet the minimum qualifications, to include any selective placement factor(s), if applicable, will be referred to the selecting official. Before a certificate is issued to the selecting official, the resume is reviewed to ensure that you meet all the qualification requirements. A rating will not be used; veteran’s preference does not apply due to the existence of the Direct Hire authority for this position.
- Note: If, after reviewing your resume and/or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, you may be found ineligible. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Providing inaccurate information on Federal documents could be grounds for non-selection or disciplinary action up to including removal from the Federal service.
- Clicking the link below will present a preview of the application form; i.e. the online questionnaire. The application form link below will only provide a preview and does not initiate the application process. To initiate the online application process, click the “Apply” button to the right.
- To view the application form, visit: https://apply.usastaffing.gov/ViewQuestionnaire/11003416
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Background checks and security clearance
Drug test required
Position sensitivity and risk
Trust determination process
- The following documents are required for your applicant package to be complete. Our office cannot be responsible for incompatible software, your system failure, etc. Encrypted documents will not be accepted. Failure to submit required, legible documents may result in loss of consideration.
- Resume that includes:1) personal information such as name, address, contact information; 2) education; 3) detailed work experience related to this position as described in the major duties including work schedule, hours worked per week, dates of employment; title, series, grade (if applicable); 4) other qualifications.
- If education is required or you are using education to qualify, you must submit a copy of your college transcripts. An unofficial copy is sufficient with the application if it includes your name and the necessary course information; however, if you are selected, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to entering on duty. Education must have been successfully obtained from an accredited school, college or university. If any education was completed at a foreign institute, you must submit with your application evidence that the institute was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as equivalent to U.S. education standards. There are private organizations that specialize in this evaluation and a fee is normally associated with this service. For a list of private organizations that evaluate education, visit the NACES website. All transcripts must be in English or include an English translation.
- If claiming veteran’s preference, you must submit a DD214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty, which shows dates of service and discharge under honorable conditions.If currently on active duty you must submit a certification of expected discharge or release from active duty service under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date the certification is submitted.Veteran’s preference must be verified prior to appointment.
- If claiming 10-point veteran’s preference you must provide the DD214 or certification requirements (see above bullet), plus the proof of entitlement of this preference as listed on the SF-15 Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference. The SF-15 should be included but is not required. Failure to submit these documents could result in the determination that there is insufficient documentation to support your claim for 10-point preference. For more information on veterans’ preference visit FEDSHIREVETS
If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:
- Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
- A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding. Learn more about federal benefits.
- Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.
- How to Apply
How to Apply
- Please read the entire announcement and all instructions before you begin. You must complete this application process and submit all required documents electronically by 11:59p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the closing date of this announcement.
- Applying online is highly encouraged. We are available to assist you during business hours (normally 8:00a.m. – 4:00p.m., Monday – Friday). If applying online poses a hardship, contact the Agency Contact listed below well before the closing date for an alternate method. All hardship application packages must be complete and submitted no later than noon ET on the closing date of the announcement in order to be entered into the system prior to its closing.
- This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities on a case-by-case basis; contact the Agency Contact to request this.
- To begin, click “Apply” and follow the instructions to complete the Assessment Questionnaire and attach your resume and all required documents.
- NOTE: If a document is resubmitted, it replaces the previous submission, which means the previous document is no longer available to the Human Resources Office. If you are adding to, rather than replacing a previous submission, you must upload both the old document and the new document. You must verify that uploaded documents from USAJOBS transfer into the Agency’s staffing system as there is a limitation to the number of documents that can be transferred. However, once in the Agency’s staffing system, you will have the opportunity to upload additional documents. Applicants may combine all like required documents (e.g. SF-50s or veteran docs) into one or more files and scan for uploading into the application. Each file must not exceed 3MB. Grouping like documents into files will simplify the application process. Documents must be in one of the following formats: GIF, JPEG, JPG, PDF, PNG, RTF, or Word (DOC or DOCX). Uploaded documents may not require a password, digital signature, or other encryption to open.
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Agency contact information
- Natural Resources Conservation Service
- 1400 Independence Ave SW
- Washington, DC 20250
- Learn more about this agency
- Your application will be reviewed to verify that you meet the eligibility and qualification requirements for the position prior to issuing referral lists to the selecting official. If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted. Log in to your USAJOBS to check your application status. We expect to make a final job offer approximately 40 days after the deadline for applications.
- Multiple positions may be filled from this announcement.
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- Fair & Transparent
Fair & Transparent
- The Federal hiring process is setup to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.
Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
- The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) for federal employees & job applicants
Reasonable Accommodation Policy
- Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process should follow the instructions in the job opportunity announcement. For any part of the remaining hiring process, applicants should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.
- A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that enables an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job duties or receive equal access to job benefits.
- Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodations when:
- An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
- An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.
- You can request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application or hiring process or while on the job. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Learn more about disability employment and reasonable accommodations or how to contact an agency.
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Legal and regulatory guidance