NRCS Competing For Workers, Too

The Natural Resources Conservation Service recognizes that they are short on staff and trying to rebuild their workforce.

NRCS has a 3,000 field-office network that helps farmers and landowners carry out voluntary conservation practices. Like many other industries, the agency has felt the competition when recruiting skilled employees.

NRCS Chief Terry Cosby says one issue he’s running into is not enough graduates are qualified to fill agency positions. He says they haven’t taken the right agriculture courses in college, such as soil science or agricultural engineering.

“Most of these college campuses have dropped classes out of their curriculum that’s important to us, and mainly soils courses,” he says. “We’re having a challenge right now on college campuses finding students that can work for us. We need soil conservationists.”

Cosby says NRCS has been working directly with college campuses to recruit students with initiatives like their ambassador program. But another issue the agency runs into is that the pipeline of workers lacks a farm background.

“A lot of these folks now do not have an ag background,” he says. “We have to train them a little bit different than when I went into the agency understanding which end of a cow to milk.”

To overcome that barrier, local offices have job experience opportunities for students as young as 15 years old.

Reach out to your local NRCS office to learn more: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/find-a-service-center