Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Soil Conservationist
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Natural Resources Conservation Service
Job Announcement Number:  NRCSDE-14-1144219-DS

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$31,628.00 to $39,179.00 / Per Year
Friday, June 13, 2014 to Monday, June 23, 2014
Full Time - Permanent
11 vacancies in the following location(s):
Akron, CO View Map
Ekalaka, MT View Map
Ashley, ND View Map
Bismarck, ND View Map
Bowbells, ND View Map
More Locations  (6)
United States Citizens
Q - Nonsensitive


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

Salary listed above is a range. However, some locations listed may offer additional locality pay. To determine the salary for a specific location go to:


The incumbents will serve as a Soil Conservationist in the local field office selected in, assisting the District Conservationist in developing and implementing a comprehensive natural resource conservation program.


These are developmental positions with an entry level of GS-5 and promotion potential to the full performance level of GS-9. Selections will be made at either the GS-5 or GS-7 level.


  • Occasional Travel
  • Travel to training and meetings.


  • Yes
  • Relocation expenses may be paid as allowable by law.


  • U.S. Citizenship
  • A valid state motor vehicle license is required, if selected.
  • Satisfactory completion and adjudication of a background investigation
  • and/or fingerprint check
  • Males born after December 31, 1959 must be registered or exempt from
  • Selective Service.
  • Satisfactory completion of a one year probationary period.


Back to top

The duties are the same as described in the target position description, GS-9. This is a developmental position. The incumbent will initially receive closer supervision in performance of assignments.


Works with farmers and other landowners to develop conventional conservation plans addressing resource concerns; provides information concerning Farm Bill and State Conservation Programs; and develops conservation contracts according to the NRCS Conservation Program Contracting Manual. Performs on-site inventory and evaluations; recommends and assists in conducting necessary preliminary surveys; and provides recommendations for feasible practices to solve resource concerns. Recommends practices to farmers and ranchers which help control erosion and conserve soil and water. Interprets soil survey data for community-owned land sites. Plans soil management and conservation practices, such as crop rotation, water quality/quantity improvement, considers grazing resources, permanent vegetation, irrigation efficiency, to maintain soil and conserve water. Evaluates the effects of land use alternatives on soil, water, plant, air and animal resources. Provides assistance to landowners in nutrient and pest management for water quality.


Back to top

All applicants must meet all qualifications such as the education requirement and the specialized experience requirements listed below by 11:59 PM (Eastern) on the closing date, Monday, June 23, 2014, of the announcement.


To qualify for the GS-05 level: Applicants must meet the minimal education requirements as listed under Basic Education Requirement.


To qualify for the GS-07 level: Applicants must have at least one (1) year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-5 level in the Federal service or other comparable experience not gained through federal service. For this position, specialized experience is defined as performing most of the following duties under guidance of a senior soil conservationist or related position: developing or assisting in developing portions of conservation plans or whole plans of a routine nature; assisting in the gathering of crop history, soil erosion data, drainage characteristics, land use data, and other resource information and planning map preparation; assisting in the evaluation of on site urban, rural or wetland conservation needs and application of land treatment measures including the installation of erosion and water control practices.

- OR –

To qualify for the GS-7 based on Superior Academic Achievement (SAA) you must meet one of the following: 3.0 average (on a scale of 4.0) based on the average of all completed college courses at the time of application or courses completed during the final 2 years of undergraduate curriculum, OR 3.5 or higher out of a possible 4.0 based on the average of all completed courses in major field of study at the time of application or of all such courses completed the final 2 years of the undergraduate curriculum, OR Class standing: applicant must be in the upper third of the graduating class in the college, university, or major subdivision, such as the College of Liberal Arts or the School of Business Administration, based on completed courses, OR Election to membership in the national scholastic honor society. More on SAA: :

- OR -

Have one year (or 18 semester hours) of graduate-level course work from an accredited college or university in soil, agriculture or natural resources or related discipline.

For more information on the qualifications for this position, click here:


Basic Education Requirement: (The educational requirement cannot be waived. Applicants must have the basic academic background to be eligible. It is the responsibility of the applicant to support and prove eligibility.)

- A degree in 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.


- A combination of education and experience with 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. 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.


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 at the following website: All education claimed by applicants will be verified accordingly.

*** 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 this link for more information.


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.

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.  

Conditions of Employment:

· This position requires regular and recurring outdoor physical exertion related to conservation field work, including prolonged walking on rough terrain, crossing ditches and furrows, and/or climbing steep banks. This may include exposure to agricultural equipment that may be in operation or adverse weather conditions

· Operate a government-owned motor vehicle as an incidental driver.

·You will be required to operate a motor vehicle on both public and private roads during daylight hours and occasionally after dark. Travel on improved and unimproved roads maybe required.
·You will be required to obtained conservation planning certification by a specified timeframe (generally two years).

Background Investigation: To ensure the accomplishment of its mission, the Department of Agriculture requires each and every employee to be reliable and trustworthy. To meet those standards, all selected applicants must undergo and successfully complete a background investigation for Suitability as a condition of placement in this Non-Sensitive level position. This review includes financial issues such as delinquency in the payment of debts, child support and/or tax obligations, as well as certain criminal offenses and illegal use or possession of drugs.


Applications will be evaluated in accordance with Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Delegated Examining Procedures using category rating. Applicants who meet basic minimum qualifications will be placed in one of three categories: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, or Qualified. Within these categories, applicants eligible for veteran's preference will receive selection priority over non-veterans. Category placement will be determined based on applicants' quality of experience and the extent they possess the following knowledge, skills, and abilities (or competencies):


1. Knowledge of fundamental soil, water, and resource conservation theories, concepts and principles in order to address natural resources conservation problems and achieve program objectives.

2. Ability to collect, analyze, and interpret natural resources data in order to perform and implement conservation activities that meet agency standards and specifications.

3. Ability to develop and implement conservation plans for various programs objectives and initiatives in order to assist landowners in conservation planning, application and maintenance of conservation practices on a variety of land uses.

4. Ability to plan, survey, and design the applications of a variety of conservation programs in order to address natural resource conservation problems and achieves projects objectives by assisting landowners with conservation plans and application.

5. Ability to communicate with others.


Best Qualified: Applicants possessing a background that demonstrates a superior level of the evaluation criteria.

Well Qualified: Applicants possessing a background that demonstrates a satisfactory level of the evaluation criteria.

Qualified: Applicants possessing the basic qualifications, with general knowledge, skills, and abilities.


The questionnaire will assess your qualifications for the job, and will be used to identify the best qualified applicants to be referred to the hiring manager for further consideration and possible interviews. Your ratings in this Assessment Questionnaire are subject to evaluation and verification based on the documents and references you submit. Later steps in the selection process are specifically designed to verify your ratings. Attempts to falsify information; inflate your qualifications or providing inaccurate information on federal documents may be grounds to adjust your rating or to not select you. Errors, omissions or providing inaccurate information on federal documents may affect your eligibility. If selected providing inaccurate information on federal documents could also be grounds for dismissing you from the position/agency. Please follow all instructions carefully.


Back to top

The Federal service offers a comprehensive benefits package: Explore the benefits offered to most Federal employees at


· This position may be filled at the GS-5 or GS-7 level. Promotion to the next higher grade may occur without further competition once all legal and regulatory requirements are met to include management’s certification of the continuing need for performance of duties at the higher grade level.

· Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): For information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible see To be well-qualified and exercise selection priority for this vacancy, surplus or displaced Federal employee must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors, and 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, applicants must receive a rating of at least 85 out of a possible 100.

· Direct Deposit – Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of your choosing.

· E-Verify: Federal law requires agencies to use the E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires. If you are selected as a newly hired employee, the documentation you present for purposes of completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form 1-9 on your entry-on-duty date will be verified through the DHS 'E-VERIFY' system. Under the system, the new hire is required to resolve any identified discrepancies as a condition of continued employment.

This announcement may be used to fill multiple vacancies.



Back to top

You must complete this application process and submit all required documents electronically by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on Monday, June 23, 2014. We are available to assist you during normal business hours. Applying online is highly encouraged. If applying online poses a hardship, please contact the Agency Contact listed below well before the closing date for an alternate method. All hard copy application packages must be submitted no later than noon 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 an as-needed basis. Please contact us if you require this for any part of the application and hiring process.


To begin, click the "Apply Online" button and follow the prompts to register, answer the required questions, create a resume, and submit all necessary documents. To return to your saved application, log in to your USAJOBS account at click on "Application Status." Click on the position title, and then select "Apply Online".



Electronic Submission: 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. Please ensure you click the Submit My Answers button at the end of the process.


To fax supporting documents you are unable to upload, complete this cover page using the following vacancy ID:1144219. Fax documents to 1-478-757-3144.

Note: To check the status of your application or return to a previous or incomplete application, log in to your USAJOBS account, select My Applications, and click on the more information link under the application status for this position.


OPTION B: If you cannot apply online:

Occupational Questionnaire must be submitted as follows:

1. Click the following link to view and print the occupational questionnaire View Occupational Questionnaire and

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

3. Fax the completed 1203FX form along with all supporting documents to (478) 757-3144. Your 1203FX will serve as a cover page for your fax transmission. As an applicant, you are responsible for ensuring all faxed documents are transmitted and received in the system.


·        Resume clearly describing your experience related to this position as described in the "Major Duties," "Qualifications," and "How you will be Evaluated" sections of this announcement.

·        Responses to the on-line Occupational Questionnaire:        View Occupational Questionnaire

·        For this position, 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. If applicable, you must submit with your application evidence that any education completed in a foreign institution was appropriately accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education as equivalent to U.S. education standards. For additional information, refer to the U.S. Department of Education web site at . You may submit an unofficial copy of the transcripts; however, if you are selected, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to entering on duty.

·        If you are a veteran and you are 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.

·        For competitive service positions, active duty service members expecting to be discharged or released from active duty service in the armed forces under honorable conditions within 120 days: you may be granted tentative preference by submitting a "certification" document in lieu of a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, DD-214. This "certification" is any written document from the armed forces that certifies the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty service under honorable conditions not later than 120 days after the date of the submission of the certification. Veteran's preference must be verified prior to appointment. Without this documentation, you will not receive veteran's preference and your application will be evaluated based on the material(s) submitted only.

·        If you are claiming 10-point veteran's preference based on service-connected disability, in addition to the DD214 or certification requirements (see above bullet), you must also submit an SF-15, "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference, plus the proof of entitlement of this preference which is normally an official statement, dated 1991 or later, from the Department of Veterans Affairs certifying to the present existence of the service-connected disability and indicating the percentage of your disability. For more information on veterans' preference see

·        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.


Darlita Sarkilahti
Phone: (701)530-2008
Fax: (701)530-2109
Agency Information:
1400 Independence Avenue
Washington, DC
Fax: (701)530-2109


You may track progress of your application package via your USAJOBS account. The questionnaire will assess your qualifications for the job, and will be used to identify the best qualified applicants to be referred to the hiring manager for further consideration, possible interview and selection. We will notify you, via your USAJOBS account, of the outcome after each of these steps has been completed. Log in to your USAJOBS account at to check your application status. After making a tentative job offer, we will conduct a Secret/security background investigation. We expect to make a final job offer within 40 days after the deadline for applications.

Additional Duty Location Info

11 vacancies in the following locations:
Akron, CO View Map
Ekalaka, MT View Map
Ashley, ND View Map
Bismarck, ND View Map
Bowbells, ND View Map
Linton, ND View Map
Wahpeton, ND View Map
Beaver City, NE View Map
Grant, NE View Map
Nelson, NE View Map
Sidney, NE View Map

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