This Position Is No Longer Available
  1. Overview
  2. Duties
  3. Qualifications & Evaluations
  4. Benefits & Other Info
  5. How to Apply

Job Title:Soil Conservationist

Department:Department Of Agriculture

Agency:Natural Resources Conservation Service

Job Announcement Number:IA-13-794636-SJ (DEU)

This position is closed and no longer accepting online applications through USAJOBS.

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.


$38,790.00 to $61,678.00 / Per Year


Thursday, November 29, 2012 to Thursday, December 13, 2012




Full Time - Permanent




4 vacancies in the following location(s):
Oakland, IA United StatesView Map
Creston, IA United StatesView Map
Centerville, IA United StatesView Map
Red Oak, IA United StatesView Map


United States Citizens


The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides leadership in a partnership effort to help conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment. 



What does a NRCS Soil Conservationist do?  Provides technical assistance to land managers in the development, application, and maintenance of natural resources conservation plans.



Applications will be accepted from all qualified U.S. Citizens.  You need not be a current or former Federal employee to apply; however, you must be a U.S. Citizen. 


IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR SURPLUS OR DISPLACED FEDERAL EMPLOYEES - Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) and Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) is available to individuals who have special priority selection rights under this plan. Individuals must be well-qualified for this position to receive consideration for special priority selection.   CTAP or ICTAP eligibles will be considered well-qualified when receiving an adjudicated score of 85 or higher.   Federal employees seeking CTAP or ICTAP eligibility must submit proof of meeting the requirements of CFR 330.605(a) for CTAP and 5 CFR 330.704 for ICTAP.   This includes a copy of the agency notice, a copy of your most recent performance rating, and a copy of your most recent SF-50 Notification of Personnel Action notating current position, grade level, and duty location.   You are to annotate in your application that you are applying as a CTAP or ICTAP eligible.


To read more about CTAP or ICTAP eligibility visit:


Read the entire job announcement and follow all instructions provided.


For more information about our agency click here .


  • Must be a United States Citizen to qualify for this position.
  • Must meet education/experience requirements--See Qualifications Section.
  • Must possess a valid state driver license.
  • Must complete a FBI Background and Security Investigation.
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be registered with the Selective Service.


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  • To assist the District Conservationist in developing and carrying out a comprehensive soil and water conservation program within a managerial unit that may consist of one or more counties. 
  • Will perform professional duties to achieve an integrated system of sound land use and conservation treatment in harmony with the capability and needs of the land and landowners.
  • Contacts landowners and operators and develops comprehensive conservation plans that provide for effective land use and water management in relation to the conservation needs of the land and the on-going agricultural enterprise.
  • Assists in obtaining crop history and physical data; e.g., field size and layout; and preparing planning maps.
  • Develops conservation plans for landowners according to established policies and procedures and in accordance with farm management decisions. 
  • Interprets soil survey maps, explains proper land use and recommends appropriate conservation measures to landowners in preparing plans.
  • Directs a continuous planning program to check practice maintenance, performance and need for updating of the conservation plans. 
  • Revises plans to meet changed conditions in accordance with mutual agreements with the landowner.
  • Assists the supervisor in carrying out all phases of the conservation program associated with the current USDA Farm Bill.
  • Works with groups on environmental education, conducts information meetings and field trips.
  • Develops news articles and schedules and presents informal programs to increase knowledge and understanding of district and service programs amoung the general public.
  • Works with local units of government such as county commissions,public service districts, boards of education and conservation districts in developing and carrying our resource plans.


The work requires regular and recurring walking over field terrain, bending, lifting, and stretching.  Average dexterity in the use of drafting tools is necessary.


You will be required to travel approximately 10% of the time.   This position requires that you have a valid driver's license.




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Candidates must meet the qualification standards requirements for the GS-457 Soil Conservation Series. See


Applicants must have:

(1) A qualifying degree and course work from an accredited college/university leading to a bachelor's or high degree that included a major field of study or specific course requirements in the following disciplines: 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.


(2) 30 semester hours in one or more of the disciplines as show in 1 above of which a minimum of 12 semester hours must be in upper level (Junior or Senior) courses, plus additional education or professional experience that will equal 4 years of education or 4 years combined education and experience (30 semester hours equals 1 year of education).  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.


Note:  Partial credit for courses cannot be given.  College transcripts are mandatory for this position and must be submitted prior to the closing date of this announcement.


One year of Specialized Experience equivalent to the next lower grade level (GS-5 and GS-7) in the Federal service.


For grade GS-7 - Applicants must have 1 year of specialized experience in natural resource conservation equivalent to Soil Conservationist work or education as defined below. 
Specialized experience is defined as:

For grade GS-7 - under close supervision of a seasoned conservationist provides assistance to land managers in planning and applying conventional conservation practices on their land to maintain or improve production while conserving soil and water resources. Also performing such tasks as providing technical assistance to land owners or operators in developing and revising conservation plans, providing information, advice and guidance to cooperators; and analyzing data and making recommendations related to simple conservation problems.


Education may be substituted for required specialized experience for the GS-7 grade level, if the education meets at least one year (18 semester hours) of progressively higher level graduate education leading toward a Masters' degree or higher in the natural resources field, or equivalent graduate degree in the natural resources field directly related to natural resources conservation, such as, agronomy, soil science, forestry, agricultural education, or agricultural engineering; or have a four year degree in Agriculture or related field with an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher or a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the last two years of college, which must equal at least 60 semester hours.


For grade GS-9 - Applicants must have 1 year of specialized experience in natural resource conservation equivalent to Soil Conservationist work or education as defined below.


Specialized experience is defined as:

For grade GS-9 - independently provides assistance to land managers in planning and applying conventional conservation practices on their land to maintain or improve production while conserving soil and water resources.  Also experience that required knowledge of the principles and theories of soil and water conservation and related sciences in identifying problems in the soil and water conservation program. Work experience included providing limited technical guidance and assistance such as soil interpretations, erosion control, and water quality recommendations to groups and individuals with planning responsibilities. Experience communicating and sharing general information and explaining issues related to soil and water conservation issues, problems, and solutions to groups of rural and community landowners, residents, and agribusiness representatives. 


Education may be substituted for required specialized experience for the GS-9 grade level, if the education meets at least two years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree.



Applicants currently working in a competitive appointment with the federal government must have one year in grade at the next lower grade level.
Applicants must meet the specialized experience by the closing date of this announcement.
Credit will be given for appropriate qualifying unpaid experience or volunteer work such as community, cultural, social service, and professional association activities on the same basis as paid experience. 
To receive proper credit for paid, unpaid experience or volunteer work, fully describe your responsibilities and show the actual time (years, months, and hours per week) spent in such activities.


Submit proof of your education with a transcript or a list of courses with credit hours, major(s), and grade point average.  We will be unable to return these to you.  You can receive credit for education received outside the United States if you provide evidence that is comparable to an accredited educational institution in the United States when you apply.


In order to receive credit for college course work for Interns or Co-op work experience, seminar courses, thesis course work, or Problems courses, applicants must provide documentation of course description from the university attended. 



FOREIGN EDUCATION:  If you wish to have education acquired outside the United States credited for the educational requirements of this position, you must prove that it has been evaluated as equivalent to the education gained in accredited United States colleges and universities.  Submit documentation of your education to a private organization that specializes in interpretation of foreign education credentials for a determination.  The Council on Postsecondary Accreditation may be of assistance in providing information on these organizations (  The processing of this vacancy announcement will not be delayed pending receipt of your evaluation materials.


Management has the prerogative to select at any grade level for which this position has been advertised.  If you are placed in this position at a grade lower than the target grade (i.e. the promotion potential grade), you may be promoted to the target grade without further competition. However, there is no commitment or obligation on the part of management to promote you. Your promotion will depend upon the continuing need for that level of work to be performed and your ability to perform the higher level duties.



  • Public Law 104-134 requires that all federal employees receive salary payments via direct deposit.
  • You must have the ability to use a computer.
  • You must be able to lift and carry up to 45 lbs
  • You must meet the positive education / specialized experience by the closing date of this announcement.
  • You  may be required to work outdoors under adverse weather conditions. 
  • You must submit a complete application package to be considered for this position. 
  • You will be required to do some travel.




Your application will be evaluated and rated under the Category Rating and Selection Procedures.  Your resume must support your responses to the occupational questionnaire.   We will review your resume and supporting documentation and compare this information to your responses on the occupational questionnaire to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications for this position.    If you are basically qualified for this position, we will evaluate your application package, using a panel of subject-matter experts or HR Specialist to assess the quality, depth, and complexity of your accomplishments, experience, and education as they relate to the critical knowledge, skills, and abilities for the position.  We will then place you in one of the following categories and only those in the Best Qualified category will be referred to the hiring manager for further consideration.

Best Qualified:  Applicants possess all of the job related competencies identifies as important for successful job performance.

Well -Qualified:  Applicants possesses a majority (i.e., more than half) of the job related competencies needed for successful job performance.

Qualified:  Applicants meets the basic eligibility and minimum qualification requirements, but does not meet the definition of Well-Qualified or Best Qualified describe above.

Veterans’ preference is applied after applicants are assessed.  Veterans’ preference eligibles who meet the qualification requirements are placed in the appropriate category and are listed ahead of non-preference eligibles.  Veteran preference eligibles that have a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10 percent are listed in the highest quality category, except in the case of scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher.





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The Federal Government offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes, in part, paid vacation, sick leave, holidays, life insurance, health benefits, and participation in the Federal Employees Retirement System.  USDA/NRCS also offers Flexi Work, Tele-work, Transportation Subsidies and a family friendly work environment.  The following Web Address is provided for your reference to explore the major benefits offered to most Federal employee.  To find out more click here:



Relocation expenses are NOT authorized under this announcement.


A background investigation will be required for all new appointments.  Your continued employment will be subject to your successful completion of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements will be grounds for termination.

A 12-month Probationary Period is required for all new appointments if not previously served.  Your continued employment will be subject to your successful completation of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication.  Failure to successfully meet these requirements will be grounds for termination. termination.

Federal law requires that all employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of all new employees (including U.S. Citizens) within three days of hire.  The NRCS uses an electronic system called E-Verify to assist in verifying newly hired employee’s eligibility to work.  Selected applicants will be required to provide employers with documentation establishing both identity and eligibility to work in the United States.  For additional information on E-Verify, go to:     Male applicants born after December 31, 1959, will have to certify prior to or at the time of appointment that they have registered with the Selective Service System.

The use of government franked envelopes to mail applications is prohibited by Federal laws and regulations.  Applications submitted in government franked envelopes will not be accepted.The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or a part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)  Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).  To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Information on Special Hiring Authorities: 

You are eligible if you meet one of the following criteria:


   a 30% compensably disabled Veteran ,

   a VRA eligible  The VRA hiring authority is limited to positions at the GS-11 level and below.

   a Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA) eligible

   Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW): For appointments in the Competitive Service, Active Duty Service Members may make applications for Federal employment by submitting a certification (written documentation from the Armed Forces) that certifies expected discharge or release from active duty under Honorable conditions not later than 120 days from the date the certification is signed.

   a person with a severe physical handicap or   Clearly indicate on your application you are applying under a Special Hiring Authority, provide required documentation of your handicap and indicate the type of accommodation you are requesting.

   a former Peace Corps or VISTA Volunteer - Applicants within 1-year of after release from the Peace Corps/Vista Service may be eligible to apply for this announcement.  To do so, applicants must submit documentation such as the Peace Corps Statement of Service that contains a statement on the eligibility to apply for Federal jobs for 1 year as a "Status" applicant.


Applicants must state in their application under which of these special hiring authorities they wish to be considered.  Submit proof of your eligibility with your application or you will not be considered under a Special Hiring Authority.

Information on Veterans' Prefernce  If you served on active duty in the United State Military and were separated under Honorable conditions, you may be eligible for Veterans' Preference.


To determine if you are eligible for Veterans' Preference click on this site:  or 





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 To apply for this position,you must provide a complete Applicaiton Package (see Required Documents Section below).


The complete Application Package must be submitted by 11:59 PM (Eastern Time) on Thursday, December 13, 2012


To begin the process, click the Apply Online button to create an account or log in to your existing USAJOBS account.  Follow the prompts to complete the occupational questionnaire. Ensure you click the Submit My Answers button at the end of the process.
To return to a previously Saved or Incomplete application you may use the following link: for USA Staffing Applicant Manager or for USAJOBS account.


If you are unabel to upload supporting documents, you may fax them by printing and completing a cover page (click the following link for the cover page) and use the following 794636.  Fax your document to 1-478-757-3144.


If you cannot apply online:

1. Click the following link to view and print the occupational questionnaire View Occupational Questionnaire ,
2. Print this 1203FX form to provide your response to the occupational
, and
3. Fax the completed 1203FX form along with any supporting documents to 1-478-757-3144. Your 1203FX will serve as a cover page for your fax transmission.


If you are unable to upload supporting documents: 

You may fax them by printing and completing a cover page (click the following link for the cover page)   and use the following Vacancy ID  794636

Fax your documents to 1-478-757-3144.


If you want to preview assessment questions or occupational (biographical) questions before you apply on-line, you may click on the links below.  This is for previewing only.  To apply, you must follow the steps shown above. (Section labeled "How to Apply")


To preview Assessment Questions only click on the following link: View Assessment Questions

To preview Occupational  Questionnaire click on the following link: View Occupational Questionnaire


The online Assessment Questions are based on the following Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: 

  • Knowledge of USDA and NRCS Programs, Policies and Procedures
  • Ability to Develop and Maintain Working Relationships
  • Skill in the Use of Measurement Tools to Analyze and Evaluate Facts
  • Knowledge of Conservation Planning and Application


After the closing date of this announcement, complete applications will be evaluated.  The most highly qualified candidates will be referred to the hiring manager for further consideration.  We expect to have a selection within 30 to 45 days of the closing date of this announcement.


For this job announcement YOU MUST SUBMIT ALL of the following documents:  

·         Your responses to the On-line Occupational Questionnaire, and  

·         Resume   

·         College Transcript(s) from all colleges attended (legible copy) 

·         SF-50 Notification of Personnel Action - All current Federal employees, and former Federal employees eligible for reinstatement, must submit a copy of a SF-50 that shows their current grade (i.e. latest pay adjustment, promotion, within grade increase or separation). If your current grade is not your highest permanent grade, submit an additional SF-50 showing the highest grade held on a permanent basis.

·       If claiming Veteran's Preference or eligibility for VRA or VEOA, provide basic eligibility information and submit a copy of DD-214 form (copy 4 which provides Character of Service).  If claiming service-connected disabilities, submit a current SF-15 (revised December 2004) and the documents specified on the form for the type of preference being claimed.  Veterans Opportunty to Work (VOW): For appointments in the Competitive Service, Active Duty Service Members may make applications for Federal employment by submitting a certification (written documentation from the Armed Forces) that certifies expected discharge or release from active duty under Honorable conditions not later than 120 days from the date the certification is signed.  For more information on veterans' preference eligibility go to   and   

·        If claiming eligibility for Career Transition Assistance (CTAP/ICTAP), you must provide proof of eligibility by providing a copy of the agency separation notice, a copy of your most recent performance rating, and a copy of your most recent SF-50 annotating current position, grade level, and duty location. Your on-line application must also  indicate  your selection for CTAP/ICTAP consideration.   

·        Peace Corps or VISTA Volunteers:  If you are a returning Peace Corps or VISTA volunteer that completed the qualifying service no more than 1 year ago, you may be eligible for a non-competitive appointment.  You must provide a letter documenting your Peace Corps or VISTA service.   



Phone: (515)284-4587
Fax: (515)284-5196
Agency Information:
Iowa NRCS State Office
210 Walnut Street RM 693
Des Moines, IA
50309-2180 Fax: (515)284-5196




Once your Occupational Questionnaire has been received, you will receive an acknowledgement email that your submission was successful.  All information provided may be verified by a careful review of your resume, questionnaire responses, reference check, background check, and/or verification of education.  After a qualification review of your complete application package, you will be notified of the status of your application.  If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted.  Any exaggeration of your experience, false statements, or attempt to conceal information may disqualify you for consideration.  A job offer is typically made within 45 days after the deadline for applications.  You can track the progress of your application package in Application Manager at .


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Job Announcement Number:

IA-13-794636-SJ (DEU)

Control Number: