Soil Conservationist (District Conservationist)

    Duties Summary

    The incumbent performs duties which assist the field offices and staff in developing and implementing a comprehensive natural resource conservation program throughout the geographic area of responsibility by providing technical guidance, assistance, and evaluation on matters related to Farm Bill Programs and Conservation Program contracting and implementation. The position is responsible for other Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs in the designated area of responsibility.


    Responsibilities
    • Provides program management, training and quality control for NRCS Farm Bill Programs.
    • Collects and analyses data necessary to update and modify technical guides for use by field offices in administering programs
    • Responsible for furnishing technical assistance to determine need and feasibility of Farm Bill financial assistance and state cost share programs as well as on completion certifies that they are in compliance with Service Standards.
    • Conducts regular follow-up on all scheduled practices assigned; develops operation and maintenance agreements for all structural practices planned and contracted.
    • Provides technical guidance and information to engineers, conservation districts and regional planning groups to insure the development of highly specialized land resource plans, and to incorporate needed soil and water conservation measures.
    • Provides administration to the filed offices, including property management, maintenance of records, and preparation of administrative reports.
    • Conducts area reviews, performs program quality checks in accordance with agency policies and provides training to the field staff for technical practices.
    Travel Required

    Occasional travel - You may be expected to travel for this position.

    Supervisory status

    No

    Promotion Potential

    11

  • Job family (Series)

    0457 Soil Conservation

  • Requirements

    Requirements 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.
    • The incumbent is required to obtain Conservation Planning Certification in accordance with the guidelines in General Manual 180 Part 409.3. State specific supplement requirements, if issued, will apply.
    Qualifications
    Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including time-in-grade restrictions, specialized experience and/or education, as defined below.

    Time in grade: Current federal employees applying for a promotion opportunity must meet time-in-grade (TIG) requirement of 52 weeks of service at the next lower grade level in the normal line of progression for the position being filled.

    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; OR

    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:
    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 the Federal service, or comparable experience not gained through federal service. This experience must include knowledge of the principles and theories of soil and water conservation and related sciences such as biology, agronomy, and forestry, in identifying conservation related problems. For this position, 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;OR
    Substitution of education in lieu of specialized experiencefor the GS-09 level: 2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree in a soil conservation or related agricultural or natural resource discipline such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering;OR

    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-11 level: You must possess at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-09 level or higher in the Federal service, or comparable experience not gained through federal service. This experience must include knowledge of the principles and theories of soil and water conservation and related sciences such as biology, agronomy, and forestry, in identifying conservation related problems. For this position, examples of specialized experience include:
    • Providing technical guidance and assistance to groups and individuals on topics such as soil interpretations, erosion control measures, pest and invasive species control, water quality improvements, livestock management, wildlife habitat, and forest management
    • Preparing conservation or resource management plans and providing financial or implementation assistance
    • Communicating and sharing general information and explaining issues related to natural resource conservation, problems, and solutions to landowners, residents, and land managers;OR
    Substitution of education in lieu of specialized experiencefor the GS-11 level: 3 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in a soil conservation or related agricultural or natural resource discipline such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering; OR

    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-PROF

    Experience 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.
    Education

    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.

    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.

    Additional information
    • Relocation and/or Recruitment Incentive may be authorized.(Relocation Incentive $5,000).
    • This position is being concurrently announced under Delegated Examining Announcement Number NRCS-20-10753311-DE-SD-CF. This announcement is open to all qualified candidates. Applying to both announcements may expand the possibilities of consideration since different referral criteria apply to each type of announcement. See the above announcement for more information.
    • 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 must be rated and determined to be well qualified (or above) based on an evaluation of the competencies listed in the How You Will Be Evaluated section. When assessed through a score-based category rating method, CTAP/ICTAP applicants must receive a rating of at least 85 out of a possible 100.
    • Veterans who are preference eligible or who have been separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions after three years or more of continuous active service are eligible for consideration under the Veteran's Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA).
    • Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Employees: Permanent County employees without prior Federal tenure who are selected for a Civil Service position under Public Law 105-277 will be given a career-conditional appointment and must serve a 1-year probationary period.
    • Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act (LMWFA) provides current or former temporary or term employees of federal land management agencies opportunity to compete for permanent competitive service positions. Individuals must have more than 24 months of service without a break between appointments of two or more years. Service must be in the competitive service and have been at a successful level of performance or better. Refer to PUBLIC LAW 114-47-AUG. 7, 2015 for more information.
    • This position is eligible for telework within the local commuting area of the position and other flexible work arrangements. Employee participation is at the discretion of the supervisor.
    • Physical Demands: The conservation work requires regular and recurring physical exertion, prolonged walking on rough terrain, crossing ditches and furrows, and/or climbing steep banks.
    • Work Environment: The work requires regular and recurring exposure to operating agricultural equipment requiring safety precautions; protective gear and clothing are necessary at such times. There may be exposure to inclement weather, poisonous insects and animals, and irritating plants.
    • 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.

    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 based on your qualifications for this position as evidenced by the experience, education, and training you described in your application package, as well as the responses to the Assessment Questionnaire to determine the degree to which you possess the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies listed below:

    • Conservation Planning, Public Service Motivation, Attention to Detail, Representing the Agency, Relationship Management, Customer Service, Teamwork, Interpersonal Skills and Oral Communication
    Your application, including the online Assessment Questionnaire, will be reviewed to determine if you meet (a) minimum qualification requirements and (b) the resume supports the answers provided to the job-specific questions. Your resume must clearly support your responses to all the questions addressing experience and education relevant to this position. Applicants who meet the minimum qualification requirements and are determined to be among the best qualified candidates will be referred to the hiring manager for consideration. Noncompetitive candidates and applicants under some special hiring authorities need only meet minimum qualifications to be referred.

    Note: If after reviewing your resume and/or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score may be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities, or 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/10753310
    Background checks and security clearance
    Security clearance

    Not Required

    Drug test required

    No

    Position sensitivity and risk

    Non-sensitive (NS)/Low Risk

    Trust determination process

    Suitability/Fitness

  • Required Documents

    Required Documents

    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 being used to qualify, you must submit a copy of your college transcripts. An unofficial copy is sufficient with the application if it includes your name & the necessary course information; however, if you are selected, official transcripts will be required 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.
    • Current and former Federal employees:
      • Most recent non-award Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) showing you are/were in the competitive service, highest grade held (or promotion potential) on a permanent basis, position title, series & grade AND
      • Most recent performance appraisal (dated within 18 months) showing the official rating of record, signed by a supervisor, or statement why the performance appraisal is unavailable. A performance plan is not an acceptable substitute.
    • Current permanent FSA County employees must submit your most recent non-award Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50) showing your highest grade (or promotion potential) held on a permanent basis, position title, series & grade AND most recent performance appraisal (dated within 18 months) per above.
    • Veteran Hiring Authorities: VEOA: DD214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty, that shows dates of service & 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.
    • Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act: Copies of Notification of Personnel Action(s) (SF-50) showing the employee served in eligible appointment(s) for a period(s) of more than 24 mos w/o a break between appointments of two years. Include initial hire actions, extensions, conversions and separation SF-50s for each period. Submit performance rating(s) showing acceptable performance for each period counted towards eligibility signed by supervisor(s). If documentation does not exist for one or more periods, submit a statement from supervisor(s) indicating acceptable performance. Applicants who do not have performance documentation for any period shall provide a reason why the documentation is not available and statement that performance for all periods was at an acceptable level.
    • Surplus or displaced employees eligible for CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP priority must provide: proof of eligibility (RIF separation notice, notice of proposed removal for declining a transfer of function or directed reassignment to another commuting area, notice of disability annuity termination), SF-50 documenting separation (as applicable), and your most recent SF-50 noting position, grade level, and duty location with your application per 5 CFR 330.
    • If claiming eligibility under a special hiring authority or an interchange agreement with another merit system not listed above, see the requirements for that authority and submit the required supporting documentation. Go to: USAJOBS Hiring Path for Special Authorities or Special Hiring Authority for more information.
    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.

  • Benefits

    Benefits

    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.


Help This job is open to
  • Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL)

    Federal employees who meet the definition of a "surplus" or "displaced" employee.

  • Federal employees - Competitive service

    Current or former competitive service federal employees.

  • Land & base management

    Certain current or former term or temporary federal employees of a land or base management agency.

  • Veterans
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Special authorities

    Individuals eligible under a special authority not listed above, but defined in the federal hiring regulations.

Clarification from the agency

Current permanent federal employees with competitive status, Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act, CTAP/RPL/ICTAP and VEOA eligibles, Farm Service Agency permanent county employees, Interchange Agreement and Other Miscellaneous Authorities.