Extension Agent I - III - Sustainable Agriculture

University of Florida

Sarasota , Florida

The Florida Cooperative Extension Service is a partnership between state, federal, and county governments that provides quality, relevant education and research-based expertise to foster healthy people, a healthy environment, and a healthy economy. We are the resource that helps educate Floridians to address issues related to agriculture, horticulture, natural resources, youth development, families and communities.

University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Sarasota County seek to fill a 12-month, permanent status-accruing Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent position. Your educational responsibilities will emphasize strong leadership in both small and large-scale agriculture production with a focus on sustainable food systems and agricultural practices, Best Management Practices (irrigation/fertilization/integrated pest management/water quality, pasture management), labor (laws/relations/shortage/productivity), business management, and other related topics. You will also contribute to our 4-H Youth Development program in your area of expertise (5%).

As the Extension Agent you will plan, develop, teach, evaluate, and report on educational programs. The successful candidate will coordinate and establish appropriate partnerships, perform site visits, and teach clientele (e.g., landowners, farmers and ranchers, schools, entrepreneurs, community organizations, citizens, industry groups and local and state government agencies) how to create urban-rural community economic opportunities that support and strengthen Sarasota County’s agricultural industries and local food systems. You will develop and maintain an effective program advisory committee with appropriate community representation. You will also have emergency management responsibilities including ESF-17 roles and post-disaster agricultural support functions.

You will use resourcefulness, creativity, enthusiasm, and innovation to strengthen current educational programs while reviewing and implementing new policies, maintaining records, assessing risks, communicating, and marketing effectively across social media platforms, managing financial resources, and creating educational materials and opportunities for Sarasota County. We will expect you to participate in appropriate professional development activities to stay abreast of industry and community needs, and be familiar with county, state, and federal regulations and statutes governing agriculture and food systems including, but not limited to food safety, food processing, food storage, and product development.

You will report to the Sarasota County Extension Director and ultimately to the District Extension Director. You will also collaborate with other Southwest Extension District Agents on multi-county projects.

Further information:

UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability is one of 16 departments in Sarasota County government. The office operates under a partnership between the University of Florida and Sarasota County government. As part of the national extension system founded in 1914, faculty and staff develop and deliver community initiatives, classes, and volunteer opportunities related to food systems, environmental sustainability, job readiness, and community development. Sarasota County is proud of its reputation as a leader in environmental and sustainable practices as demonstrated by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-level office that features use of natural light and beautiful views of Twin Lakes Park, near I-75 and Clark Road.

Sarasota County is located on the Florida peninsula, midway between Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. Thirty-seven miles of white, sandy beaches line the Gulf of Mexico west of the county, while the wetlands, prairies, and hammocks of Myakka River State Park roll across much of the eastern lands. Situated in the sub-tropical region that arcs across the state, the area features an appealing climate the year around. Prominent cities include Sarasota, Venice, and North Port. Nearly 400,000 residents make Sarasota County their home the year around with another 75,000 or so wintering here, and 90% of respondents describe their neighborhood as excellent or good.

Agriculture is an important industry in Sarasota County. The most recent Census of Agriculture reports 283 farms on 80,000 acres. The market value of ag products sold is more than $25 million annually. Top commodities include sod, cattle, nursery operations, citrus, and aquaculture.

Extension is a partnership between state, federal, and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. As such, all partners are involved in the supervision of the office and contribute to the salary and support 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 in order to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. The UF/IFAS mission is accomplished through extension faculty members, scientists, educators, administrative staff, and volunteers working cohesively throughout Florida’s 67 counties.

Commensurate with Education and Experience.

The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, sustainable food systems, horticulture, agronomy, or a closely related field. A schedule that allows for irregular hours is necessary. If hired with a bachelor’s degree, we want you to grow in your career. As such, we expect you to make at least 50% progress towards obtaining your master’s degree within the first 6 years of employment. Demonstrated abilities in organizational skills and written/oral/listening communication skills are essential. A valid driver’s license as well as national background screening is a requirement of this position.

An earned master’s degree and/or previous industry, teaching, or extension experience is preferred. Experience with agricultural economics and farm or ranch management is desirable. Experience in teaching, writing, and developing educational programs is preferred. Demonstrated skills in partnership development and project management are also desirable. Spanish-speaking skills would be a plus.