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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Student Trainee- Internship
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Natural Resources Conservation Service
Job Announcement Number:  SD-873489-SK

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$24,933.00 to $36,384.00 / Per Year
Thursday, April 11, 2013 to Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Multiple Schedules - Internships
3 vacancies in the following location(s):
Aberdeen, SD United StatesView Map
Sioux Falls, SD United StatesView Map
Watertown, SD United StatesView Map
United States Citizens


Be remarkable and make a difference! Join the Natural Resources Conservation Service team and help conserve our nation's natural resources in partnership with America's land owners.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is known worldwide for its accomplishments and innovations in conservation.  The employees of NRCS are recognized for their talent, dedication, and ingenuity in making the agency's programs work as they take necessary steps to reduce erosion, protect wildlife, promote good land use, and other measures to preserve the Nation's natural resources for future generations.  Join us in protecting and conserving natural resources on America's private land.  Visit our website ( to learn more and see why this is such a great place to work.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service in South Dakota is hiring Student Trainees under the Pathways Internship Program.  The Pathways Internship Program is a planned, progressive education program that provides for the integration of a student's academic studies with target positions in the Federal workforce.  These internships allow students to gain real, paid work experience while pursuing a college degree in a particular career field.  South Dakota NRCS is specifically seeking students who are pursuing at least a 4-year degree in Soil Science, Plant Science, Crop Science, Agronomy, Forestry, Rangeland Management, or other closely-related Agricultural or Natural Resources fields; who are interested in doing professional Soil Conservationist work after graduation from college.


HOW DOES THE PATHWAYS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM WORK?  These positions will provide hands-on experience for students that is in the specific discipline for which hired and is related to the student's academic program and career goals.  A written agreement is required between South Dakota NRCS and the intern.  Students must complete at least 640 work hours under the internship to be eligible for placement upon graduation.  Within 120 calendar days after completing educational requirements and Pathways Program specifics, NRCS may non-competitively convert an intern to a career/career-conditional or term appointment.  Conversion is not guaranteed and is based on the need of the agency.   

Students must be willing to work in any location in South Dakota.  Each selected student's initial work location will be determined at time of selection, and work locations will vary each summer as students return to work in the program. Applicants must be mobile to all locations throughout South Dakota for initial placement, for each summer placement, and also for final placement if offered a permanent position upon graduation from college.  A mobility statement will be required upon selection.

Positions are full time in the summer and full-time upon successfully meeting the requirements for graduation and the qualifications for the target position.  Students will be placed into non-pay status when they return to school each fall, then returned to work the following summer.  Paid leave, life insurance benefits, health benefits, retirement benefits, and other federal benefits are available depending on work schedule.  Housing subsidies and/or transportation costs may be offered.  Students pursuing their Bachelor's degree may be promoted up to the GS-4 level as they progress through the program, and may be placed in permanent positions at either the GS-5 or GS-7 level (depending on qualifications) when they graduate.  The full performance level for these positions is GS-09.  If converted to a permanent position, at management's discretion students may be non-competitively promoted to that level when eligible.  However, progression to that level is neither guaranteed nor required.  Advancement is dependent upon successful performance in the position and satisfaction of time-in-grade and qualification requirements.

This program is intended for students interested in long-term, permanent employment only.  If you are interested in short-term employment or summer employment, please check for other opportunities advertised on the USAjobs website at


  • You must be a U.S. Citizen
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be registered with the Selective Service.
  • You must complete a FBI Background & Security Investigation.
  • You must have a valid state driver license.
  • Cumulative GPA 2.9 - 3.0 and higher preferred.
  • Must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a degree-seeking student.


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The trainee positions advertised are developmental positions designed to provide intensive and specialized training in the field of work related to the student's major field of study.  Work will become increasingly more complex as the student masters skills and assignments and progresses through the program. 


Soil Conservationist Student Intern

As a Soil Conservationist student intern with the Natural Resources Conservation Service you will work with staff specialists to assist with various stages of conservation planning, surveying and carrying out resource conservation plans.  The internship provides intensified training in soil conservation and is qualifying for a professional position upon graduation from college.



Gathers preliminary data such as farm and field boundaries, physical features, and acreage, for use by the district conservationist in preparing complete conservation plans; delivers completed farm plans to farmers, reviews and explains plans thoroughly to them, and makes arrangements to give the necessary onsite assistance which will be needed in the application of the plans.


Lays out or assists farmers in the application of all types of conservation practices and measures being applied in the field office area; makes minor changes or adjustments in conservation plans during application as requested by the farmer or as local conditions dictate.


Inspects the site, makes the necessary preliminary surveys, recommends needs and feasibility, lays out, supervises construction, and recommends acceptability of completed practices to the district conservationist on all types of practices being utilized in the field office area. Applies a follow-up schedule on maintenance and application of natural resources conservation practices; observes applied practices in the field, and makes recommendations to farmers for proper maintenance of these practices; encourages farmers to complete the application of their conservation plans by making follow-up visits to the farm and giving assistance and advice on the application of practices; works with the farmer in making minor adjustments and changes in the conservation plans as changed conditions dictate.


Prepares preliminary drafts of conservation news items encountered in daily field activities; occasionally prepares final drafts of news articles for publication in local newspapers, over radio stations, etc.


Receives training in professional farm planning methods and procedures and the application of conservation practices in order to develop a well-rounded experience in natural resources conservation work to better understand the inter-relations of the various functional fields in the natural resources conservation program.


Receives intensive and specialized training in all phases of the natural resources conservation program, including information and educational activities, working relationships with the conservation district governing body, and other state, federal, and local groups at the county level.


The on-line occupational questionnaire that you will complete will address the following Knowledge, Skills and Abilities necessary for this position:


1.  Knowledge of processes, methods and procedures to operate basic equipment.

2.  Skill in operating a computer and knowledge of software.

3.  Ability to communicate with others both orally and in writing.


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NRCS Pathways Program candidates will meet the qualification requirements consistent with OPM qualification standards applicable to the position being filled.


For GS-03: Completion of 1 academic year of post-high school study


For GS-04: Completion of 2 academic years of post-high school study or associate's degree


Note: An academic year of undergraduate education is defined as 30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, or the equivalent in an accredited college or university.


The required education must lead to a bachelor's degree with specialization in a directly related field to the position in which the student trainee will participate in the intern program.  The degree of specialization in this field must satisfy on graduation the specific educational requirements in the qualification standard for the corresponding position.


In order to be considered for non-competitive conversion upon graduation applicants will be required to meet the following education requirements.


Soil Conservationist, GS-0457, Education Requirements:

Degree: soil conservation or related agricultural or natural resource discipline such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, 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.


Unofficial transcripts are required to verify educational claims.  All academic degrees and course work must be completed at a college or university that has obtained accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  For a list of schools that meet this criteria, see

Many NRCS positons have specific educational requirements, so we encourage you to provide a complete description of your educational achievements.

Courses of Study closely related to Soil Conservation:

-Soil Science

-Crop Science


-Plant Science

-Natural Resource Conservation

-Range Management

-Range Ecology & Management


-Agricultural Discipline

-Natural Science Discipline


Foreign Education — Education completed outside of the United States must be deemed equivalent to that gained in conventional/accredited U.S. education programs to be acceptable for Federal employment. Applicants must submit all necessary documents to a private U.S. organization that specializes in interpretation of foreign educational credentials, commonly called a credential evaluation service when they apply for positions in order for the foreign education to be considered as a part of the qualification requirements or for positive education requirements.


Pathways Program requirements for an internship with South Dakota NRCS:

a. Be a United States Citizen.

b. Be at least 16 years old.

c. Have at least a cumulative GPA 2.9 - 3.0 or higher is preferred.

d. Be pursuing a baccalaureate or graduate degree in one of the academic majors or related fields listed above. Must be enrolled in an accredited college or university on at least a half-time basis as defined by the college or university.



BASIS OF RATING: 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 identified 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.



Candidates will meet the qualification requirements consistent with the OPM qualification standards applicable to the position being filled.  Veteran's preference applies to all selections made under the Pathways Program authority in accordance with Part 302 of 5 CFR.  Candidates who meet the minimum qualifcation requirements need not be further evaluated; however, if no further evaluation is done, qualified veterans have preference.  If candidates are further evaluated using NRCS's category rating process, qualified veterans have absolute preference within the appropriate category. 



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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: 



Housing Subsidy; USDA/NRCS South Dakota may authorize a housing subsidy while working Full Time during the summer depending on budget.

EEO Policy Statement:

Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement:

Veterans Information:

Legal and Regulatory Guidance:


Shari Kieffer



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To apply for this position, you must provide a complete application (see "Required Documents" section below).  The complete application package must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) by the closing date of this announcement.


To begin the process, click the Apply Online button to the right of this announcement to create a USAJOBS account or log into our existing USAJOBS account.  Be sure to upload the required documents before you submit your application.  Please ensure you click the Submit My Answers button at the end of the process.  Mailed/emailed applications will not be accepted.


Note: To change or update your application, simply reapply through USAJOBS before the closing date of this announcement.  To check the status of your application, log into your USAJOBS account, select Application Status and click on the More Information link under the application status for this position.


If you cannot apply online:

1. Click the following link to view and print the occupational questionnaire:  Online Questionnaire

2. Print the OPM Form 1203FX to provide your response to the occupational questionnaire:

3. Fax the completed 1203FX form along with all supporting documents to (478) 757-3144.  Do not use a separate cover sheet.  Your 1203FX form must be placed on top of all materials and will serve as a cover page for your fax transmission. 

4. Keep a copy of your fax transmission receipt in case verification is needed.


To fax supporting documents you are unable to upload:

1. Complete this cover page using the following Vacancy ID:873489.  You must use this fax cover sheet in order for your documents to be matched with your online application.

2. Fax this cover sheet and supporting documents to (478) 757-3144.



The following documents are required: 

  • Completed Occupational Questionnaire.  This can be completed online.  Make sure that you click the Submit My Answers button at the end of the questionnaire.  If you wish to complete the questionnaire via paper, please print the Online Questionnaire and the 1203FX form to document your responses.
  • Résumé 
  • College Transcripts to support education requirements.  Copies of unofficial transcripts are acceptable for proof of education.  If selected for a position you will be required to provide official transcripts and proof of enrollment.
  • Veterans:  If you have prior military service, please include copies of all your DD-214s for proof of service.  Applicants claiming preference based on service-connected disability, or based on being the spouse or a mother of a disabled or deceased veteran, you must also complete and submit a SF-15 along with supporting documentation.

    If you have submitted all documents listed above, you have completed the application process.   If you want to save an incomplete Occupational Questionnaire and return later, select the Save button at the top or bottom of each of the application pages and click the Logout button.


    View Occupational Questionnaire


    Shari Kieffer
    Phone: (605)352-1224
    Fax: (605)352-1270
    Agency Information:
    Federal Building - Room 203
    200 fourth Street SW
    Huron, SD
    Fax: (605)352-1270


    Once the online occupational questionnaire is received you will receive an automated acknowledgement email that your submission was successful.   After a review of ALL applications are made, you will be notified of your qualification status and referral or non-referral to the hiring official for further consideration.   If further evaluation or interviews are required you will be contacted.


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    EEO Policy Statement | Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement | Veterans Information | Legal and Regulatory Guidance