Extension Agent I - IV – Sustainable Food Systems

  • University of Florida
  • United States
  • Mar 28, 2024

Job Description:

Classification Title:

Ext Agent I - IV

Job Description:

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is creating an environment that affirms community across all dimensions. We particularly welcome applicants who can contribute to such an environment through their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and professional service. If an accommodation due to a disability is needed to apply for this position, please call 352-392-2477 or the Florida Relay System at 800-955-8771 (TDD) or visit Accessibility at UF .

The University of Florida (UF), the flagship university for the state of Florida, is a land grant institution with core values of unique purpose, excellence, integrity, collaboration and partnership, lifelong learning, responsiveness, innovation, communication, and global reach. The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) employs more than 2,000 faculty and staff statewide. IFAS Extension employs 375 Extension Agents and has an office in each of Florida’s 67 counties.

Our mission in the Florida Cooperative Extension Service is to partner with communities to provide quality, relevant education, and research-based expertise to improve health, environment, and the economy. We are the resource that helps educate Floridians to address issues related to agriculture, horticulture, natural resources, youth development, families, and communities.

We look for people with both academic and people skills who work well in teams, honor their commitments and innovate in a rapidly changing world. Working for Florida Cooperative Extension will allow you to make a positive impact in your community as you help shape future generations, growing your career while earning a competitive salary and great benefits.

As an Extension Agent, you will work jointly for UF/IFAS Extension and Manatee County government. As an extension educator, you will design, implement, and evaluate sustainable food system educational programs to assist clientele in sustainable production practices on fruit and vegetable farms. You will devote 5% of your time contributing to our 4-H Youth Development program. Your target audiences will include fruit and vegetable producers, both large and small producers, farmer’s market management, entrepreneurs, allied industry representatives, national, state, and local agencies, Manatee County citizens youth and adult, among others. Your comprehensive sustainable food systems educational program will be guided by an advisory committee that represents the needs of the county’s population.

What you will do as the Sustainable Food Systems Extension Agent:

  • Develop, conduct, coordinate, evaluate, and report on educational programs for sustainable food systems to include fruit and vegetable production.
  • Provide on-site technical assistance and teaching to facilitate the implementation of Best Agricultural Practices in fruit and vegetable production which includes appropriate fertilizer and pesticide use.
  • Teach integrated pest management, including insect, mites, diseases, and weed management, which increase resource use efficiency.
  • Teach water conservation and efficient irrigation practices to achieve behavior change leading to documented water savings. You will be utilizing soil moisture sensor technology to assist you.
  • Teach Florida Department of Consumer Services (FDACS) pesticide license certification and Worker Protection Standards to horticulture professionals and administer pesticide exams.
  • Supervision of the Community Garden Program Specialist position.
  • Deliver consumer awareness educational programs such as farm tours and producer panels to promote agriculture awareness.
  • Work with Manatee County 4-H and other youth interested in agriculture-related projects including plant production.
  • Establish and maintain an effective advisory committee to assist with program development and implementation.
  • Collaborate with local growers and UF/IFAS Research and Education Center faculty to help design, conduct, and evaluate studies (including demonstration trials) that assess fruit and vegetable crop variety performance, response to fertilizer and other crop nutrition inputs, and improved methods for weed/pest management.
  • Market the extension program through multi-media platforms.
  • Target programs to reflect the area’s population and unique educational needs using a variety of program delivery methods.
  • Develop community partnerships.
  • Work as part of a team with local producers, organizations, agencies, and UF/IFAS colleagues to promote agriculture.
  • Strategize extension educational events that also offer continuing education units (CEUs) relevant to target clientele.
  • Establish and maintain an effective system for accountability.
  • Produce “extension-friendly” creative works and publications.
  • Actively participate in professional societies (committees, leadership roles).
  • Write an annual plan of work and report of accomplishment.
  • Work closely with Manatee County Government to follow all procedures and guidelines as a joint employee of UF/IFAS and Manatee County Government.
  • Assume other responsibilities that benefit the total county extension program as assigned by the District Extension Director and County Extension Director.

Further information:

Employment is contingent on the results of a physical examination, a substance screening, and a national background screening.

About the County

Manatee County is located on Florida’s west coast, south of Tampa/St. Petersburg and north of Sarasota. It comprises 741 square miles with 150 miles of coastline. The county seat is Bradenton, the home of Tropicana Products, and winter home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The county population is approximately 430,000. Manatee County 7th in Florida for agriculture production. Commodities include tomato and vegetables, citrus, beef cattle, and ornamental production. Manatee County ranks 13th in the state in market value of ornamentals, with nursery stock and floriculture/foliage crops making up the bulk of production.

Extension is a partnership between state, federal, and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. As such, all partners participate in the supervision of the office and contribute to the salary and support of resources. The primary goal of Extension is to disseminate the latest knowledge and applicable technologies in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. Extension faculty members, scientists, educators, administrative staff, and volunteers working cohesively throughout Florida’s 67 counties to facilitate UF/IFAS’ mission.

Candidates will be reviewed as applications are received, but please be aware that interviews might not be scheduled until 4 to 6 weeks after the position closing date. Apply to become a part of our growing team!

Expected Salary:

Commensurate with Education and Experience

Minimum Requirements:

What you will bring (required):

  • A bachelor’s degree in plant science, horticultural science, agronomy, food systems management, or a closely related field from an accredited college or university. If hired solely with a bachelor’s degree, you will be expected to advance your career by making at least 50% progress towards obtaining your master’s degree within the first 6 years of employment. (Candidates must hold a master’s degree to be hired as an Extension Agent II or higher).
  • Strong written and verbal interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Ability to establish solid partnerships and to find innovative ways to attract new audiences and volunteers.
  • A commitment to customer service.
  • Ability to possess (or be able to obtain) a Florida driver’s license.
  • Flexibility with working hours; willingness to work irregular hours including occasional evenings, weekends, and overnight travel.
  • A commitment to UF core values of excellence, discovery & innovation, inclusion, freedom & civility, community, and stewardship.
Preferred Qualifications:

What you will bring (preferred):

  • A master’s in plant science, horticultural science, agronomy, food systems management, or closely related field or Doctor of Plant Medicine (DPM).
  • Project management skills are preferred.
  • Experience creating lesson plans, developing instructional materials, and applying teaching methods appropriate for an array of audiences.
  • A strong commitment to community.
  • Practical experience in extension education, particularly in southwest Florida horticulture production.
  • Working knowledge of plant diagnostics, best agricultural practices and integrated pest management with fruit and vegetable production.
  • Working knowledge of business plans and practices, grades and standards, soils, and sustainable production practices.
  • Familiarity with local, state, and federal pesticide and landscaping licensing requirements.
  • Evidence of exceptional collaborations, partnerships, and marketing with community agencies and groups.
  • Experience working in multicultural settings; bilingual in English/Spanish is a plus.
  • Technological literacy necessary for communication and program management.
  • Additional certifications for Core, Private, Agriculture Row Crop, and Demonstration and Research pesticide license categories are suggested but can be attained in first year of employment.

Expertise in leading groups to work together for a higher goal; managing competing priorities; practicing resilience; and the adaptability to manage unexpected situations is a plus for this role. We actively seek applicants who can contribute to such an environment through their scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and professional service.

Special Instructions to Applicants:

Apply at Careers at UF by 11:55 p.m. (Eastern) of the posting end date, and attach:

  • Cover letter that describes how your experience and qualifications have prepared you for this position
  • Résumé or Curriculum vitae
  • Unofficial copies of all transcripts (showing coursework) of your academic degrees

The following documents are also required and may either be submitted through the above link at the time of application or sent separately to our office (below).

  • Current and Previous Employment Form
  • A minimum of 3 reference rating forms from your professional/academic references. Applicants are responsible for sending the rating form link to their references.
    • Reference forms will be kept on file for 1 year and will be automatically used with any of our extension agent positions you apply for during that time.

Reference rating forms and unofficial transcripts not submitted at the time of application should be submitted/postmarked by the next business day after the position’s closing date. They may be submitted to:

UF IFAS Human Resources
Faculty Recruitment and Hiring
P O Box 110281
Gainesville, FL 32611-0281


Fax: (352) 392-3226

Selected candidate will be required to provide an official transcript to the hiring department upon hire. A transcript will not be considered “official” if a designation of “Issued to Student” is visible. Degrees earned from an education institution outside of the United States are required to be evaluated by a professional credentialing service provider approved by National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the US. The University of Florida is a public institution and subject to all requirements under Florida Sunshine and Public Record laws.

The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution. The University and greater Gainesville community enjoy a variety of cultural events, restaurants, year-round outdoor recreational activities, and social opportunities.

Health Assessment Required: Yes