Skip

Careers

Student Career Experience Program 

You can make a difference in the conservation of our natural resources. We're looking for intelligent and motivated students who want to share their ideas and talents. The Student Career Experience Program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can offer you the opportunity to be part of this conservation effort.

Page Contents


What Is the Natural Resources Conservation Service?

NRCS is an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that began conservation work during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930's. A series of dust storms had just ravaged the Nation's farmlands, stripping away millions of tons of topsoil. Huge dust clouds had carried soil hundreds of miles, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Ever since that disaster, NRCS has been trying to make Americans more aware of the need to protect our natural resources, especially soil and water.

The employees of NRCS work with local soil and water conservation districts to encourage and assist people in conserving the Nation's resources. Our programs are aimed at reducing erosion, keeping streams clear, protecting wildlife, and promoting good land use.

NRCS offers career opportunities to high school, college, and technical school students through programs such as the Student Career Experience Program. 

What is the Student Career Experience Program ?

The Student Career Experience Program combines paid, study-related employment with periods of formal educational study. Students are given the chance to apply their academic studies to their on-the-job experience and earn academic credit for their work experience based on their school's Student Career Experience Program policy. The work experience with NRCS MUST be related to the student's academic/career goals. This type of employment greatly benefits both employers and students. It gives employers an effective, low-cost recruitment and training method which will help meet staffing goals. It introduces students to a professional work environment and will help them explore career options.

Types of Student Career Experience Program Opportunities

STUDENT TRAINEE positions under the Student Career Experience Program are available in a variety of job areas. A trainee position acquaints the student with field application of conservation practices learned in the classroom. The program provides for periods of study mixed with periods of study-related employment. Work is under the guidance of a trained NRCS employee in the specialty.

These positions can lead to careers requiring a college degree, usually with a major in natural resources, agronomy, or other agriculture areas. Some are:

Soil Conservationist
Provides technical advice on installing conservation practices such as terraces, dams and planting of grass, trees or wildlife cover. Provides advice to landowners and government agencies in the development of the natural resources.

Civil or Ag Engineer
Assists in engineering design of dams, road structure and terrace systems. Makes on-site inspections, computes quantity and most of materials, and gathers basic planning data for these structures.

Soil Scientist
Makes sample drillings in the field to identify and classify soils, gathers information for soil surveys such as land use and crop data, and is generally responsible for soil surveys.

Range Conservationist
Help ranchers develop good grazing systems by developing a conservation plan, gives advice on the best grasses to grow and ways to improve and protect rangeland.

How the Student Career Experience Program Works

Under a working agreement between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and an educational institution, the student must work a minimum of 640 study-related work hours before completion of the education requirements for graduation. The student may work full-time during the summer and vacation periods or part-time while attending classes. Students are hired on a temporary basis (usually at the GS-3 or GS-4 level) subject to all the conditions of a career-conditional appointment. They are eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a career-conditional appointment upon completion of the educational requirements and the minimum work hours.

As part of the SCEP program selected students must work a minimum of 640 study-related work hours before completion of the education requirements for graduation. The student may work full-time during the summer and vacation periods or part-time while attending classes. Students are hired on a temporary basis (usually at the GS-3 or GS-4 level) subject to all the conditions of a career-conditional appointment. They are eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a career-conditional appointment upon completion of the educational requirements and the minimum work hours. 

  • Must be a student, enrolled on at least a ½ time basis, in an accredited school

  • Occupations should be Mission-related to the agency (in NRCS that is Soil Conservationist, Soil Scientist, Rangeland Management Specialist, and Engineer)

  • NRCS Nebraska will pay a stipend of up to $500 for rent and electricity.  Actual costs, up to $500, are paid. 

  • SCEPs are paid based on completed education

  • GS-03 ($11.95 per hour) - 1 year above high school with courses related to the occupation

  • GS-04 ($13.41 per hour) - 2 years above high school with courses related to the occupation

  • NRCS Nebraska pays for the student to come to their duty station from their current location – including airfare.

  • NRCS Nebraska pays for the student to return to their current location at the end of the summer duty location.

  • Student can make arrangements to travel to the assigned duty station and return to current location through Financial Management.

  • Transportation at the duty location is not provided.  This sometimes is an issue because the student coming from a long distance (i.e. out-of-state) may not have transportation.

  • NRCS cannot taxi students from their living quarters to work during the summer using government vehicles.

  • Students are issued a Government Travel Card, for government travel only, upon being employed.

Qualifications

A Student must meet the following requirements to qualify for an NRCS Student Career Experience appointment:

  1. Be at least 16 years old
  2. Be a citizen of the United States
  3. Be in good academic standing in a qualifying educational institution
  4. Be enrolled in a field of study that relates to occupations with the Natural Resources Conservation Service

 Working Agreement Between Student's School and NRCS

The Student Career Experience Program is a formally structured program and requires a written agreement by all parties
(agency, school, student) as to the:

  • nature of work assignments
  • schedule of work assignments and class attendance
  • evaluation procedures
  • requirements for continuation and successful completion of the program

A student must be enrolled in their school's Student Career Experience Program to be eligible for this type of employment.

Questions?

USDA/NRCS Nebraska State Office
Attn: Human Resources
100 Centennial Mall North
Lincoln, NE 68508
(402) 437-5300  

Last Modified 03/20/2012