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Career Internship Brochure

Take a Look at Student Career Positions
with the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Photo of farmland - Are you interested in protecting our nation's natural resources?Soil Science
Soil Conservation
Biological Sciences
Agricultural Engineering
Civil Engineering
and more...

Opportunities with NRCS in Illinois

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a technical agency of the Federal government devoted to natural resources conservation. NRCS provides programs and assistance to help America’s private landowners conserve their soil, water, and other resources on a voluntary basis. NRCS also provides technical expertise to local, state and Federal agencies and policy makers.

To accomplish our conservation mission, NRCS employs a variety of specialists in many disciplines. This includes: natural resources, agronomy, soil science, biology, wildlife, cultural resources, computer technology, engineering, and administration – just to name a few!

Photo of NRCS employee measuring crop residue in a field.NRCS offers a variety of opportunities for students and interns to explore interesting and rewarding career options. The Illinois NRCS employs students from high schools, colleges, technical and vocational schools, and universities from around the country, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and Native American Colleges and Universities.

NRCS Student Educational Employment Programs are designed for high school and college level students looking to explore career options while building skills and experience.

The NRCS Career Intern Program is designed for applicants who possess the experience and education to enter the workforce in a technical or professional capacity to further the NRCS mission.

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

Student Educational Employment ProgramsPhoto of student surveying.

Photo of soil in hand and another photo of farmland.NRCS’s Student Educational Employment Programs offer opportunities for college and high school students to explore career options while building skills and experience. These programs are designed as temporary positions, but in many cases may lead to future careers with NRCS. The Student Educational Employment Program has two components: the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

For More Information on Opportunities through STEP and SCEP

Contact the Illinois NRCS Human Resources department (see back) or visit your local NRCS office. Offices are listed by County on the Internet at:

Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP)

STEP provides temporary Federal employment to qualified students. Your academic career goals may or may not relate to job duties.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be at least 16 years old;
  • Must have United States citizenship;
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time or have been accepted for enrollment in an accredited high school or vocational school or associate degree, baccalaureate, or graduate program; and
  • Must maintain good academic standing
Pay and Benefits

Your rate of pay will depend upon your current education, work experience, and other position requirements. You are automatically eligible for paid vacation days, holidays, and sick leave.

Student Career Experience Program (SCEP)

SCEP is designed to be a partnership between you, your school, and NRCS. SCEP combines academic classroom learning with practical, on-the-job experience in your field of study. Participants often pursue permanent careers with NRCS upon graduation.

Participants are paid for their work and may receive additional financial assistance to help offset lodging expenses while enrolled in the program.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be at least 16 years old;
  • Must have United States citizenship;
  • Must maintain good academic standing in a qualifying educational institution and be enrolled at least half-time; and
  • Must be enrolled in and pursuing a field of study that relates to the career fields offered by NRCS
Work Periods

Participants typically work from mid-May to mid-August. NRCS and students work together to design schedules that work best for everyone. Many students return summer after summer.

Pay and Benefits

Your initial rate of pay will depend upon your education and work experience. You are eligible for paid vacation days, holidays, sick leave, retirement, and investment planning. As you advance, you will be eligible for promotions, awards, and other pay increases.

Health and Life Insurance

You are eligible for Federal health insurance and life plans that provide varying coverage to meet individual needs.

Conversion to Permanent Employment

Students are required to complete a minimum of 640 hours of career-related work prior to meeting the academic requirements for graduation. Upon successful completion of all your work study and degree requirements, you may be eligible to be converted to a permanent position within 120 calendar days of graduation.

collage of images of studentsNRCS Career Intern Program

The USDA Career Intern Program is designed to prepare men and women with diverse professional experiences, academic training, and talents for careers in Federal service. Interns participate in a two-year program that provides formal and on-the-job training to develop competencies appropriate for careers with NRCS in Illinois.

Eligibility Requirements

  • United States citizenship;
  • Bachelor’s or Graduate Degree with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better (may apply up to six months before graduation); and/or
  • Diverse professional experiences, training, and competencies; and
  • Leadership skills and community service background

Most career intern positions will be hired under the sciences intern program and will require education or experience related to a major study in soil conservation or field closely related to agricultural sciences, natural resources, engineering, or cartography.

Pay and Benefits

Federal pay charts are posted on the Web at Most positions will be at GS-5, 7 and 9 levels. Special salary rates are available for hard to fill positions; i.e., computer technology and engineering. Participants are automatically eligible for paid vacation days, holidays, sick leave, retirement, and investment plans.

Health and Life Insurance

Interns are eligible for Federal health and life insurance plans that provide varying coverage to meet individual needs.

Conversion to Permanent Employment

Program participants may be converted to a permanent position at the completion of the two-year internship. However, conversion is at the discretion of the agency and not guaranteed. Participants may be required to sign a statewide mobility agreement, which allows NRCS to place you where opportunities are available.

How to Apply for a Career Internship

Submit the USDA Career Intern Program Application, a resume or Form OF-612, college transcript, and signed mobility agreement to NRCS Illinois Human Resources. Access applications at:

Make a difference with NRCS!

Collage of NRCS employeesFederal Employment on the Internet

Illinois NRCS:
NRCS National Student Programs & Scholarships 
USDA Career Intern Web Site
Federal Job Vacancies:
Application for Federal Employment:  


NRCS Illinois Employment Contacts:

USDA NRCS Human Resources
2118 W. Park Court
Champaign, IL 61821
(217) 353-6619

Helping People Help the Land.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Download Printable Brochure

The following document requires Adobe Acrobat Reader format.
Career Internship Brochure (June 2004)
InternBRC_04.pdf (PDF; 329 kb)