A Career as a County Extension Agent
Texas needs people who are excited about today’s issues, knowledgeable in their fields, dedicated to education and committed to building better communities. It’s a tall order, but one that you can fill as a county Extension agent for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. If you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in agriculture or natural resources, family and consumer sciences or other relevant fields along with a strong desire to work with people and contribute to the community, Extension can offer you an excellent career opportunity.
Teaching, Informing, Working With People
The county Extension agent’s primary role is to inform and teach. Agents provide information for local residents in workshops and seminars, at community events, through the media, and with a variety of information technology tools.
An equally important part of the job is working with people. Agents work as a team with other agents in the county office. And they work extensively with committees of local residents to identify educational needs and with volunteers who help implement programs to meet those needs. They also cooperate with other agencies, businesses, school districts, community groups or organizations to jointly sponsor educational programs.
Focusing on Programs and Audiences
Each county office has one or more agents, depending on local circumstances. Typically agents are employed to work within a particular program area such as agriculture, family and consumer sciences, 4-H or community development. Agents, however, also work together on issues that cut across these program areas.
Agricultural agents have expertise in production, processing and distribution of agricultural products; conservation and environmental concerns; marketing; and economics. They work primarily with farmers and ranchers, agribusinesses and commodity groups.
Family and consumer sciences agents are experts in areas such as family and child development, nutrition and food science, family economics and health and wellness. Their audiences include individuals, families, child-care providers, school personnel and nutrition and health professionals among others.
4-H youth development agents work primarily with youngsters ages 9-19 through 4-H clubs, special projects and school enrichment programs. 4-H agents also conduct active training programs for adult volunteers and recruit parents and other adults to serve as volunteer leaders.
Expanded Nutrition Program agents provide basic nutrition education to limited-income families with young children and to youths through this special federally funded program available in nine Texas cities.
Depending on the situation in specific counties, Extension agents may also serve in specialized agent positions in areas such as integrated pest management, horticulture, marine sciences or communication.
A County-Based, Grassroots Organization
If you’re interested in local, community-based education and action, Extension is the place for you. County programs are funded by county, state and federal governments. Programs are guided by citizen advisory committees. So the county judge and commissioners as well as local residents have a vital interest in the local Extension program.
Support and Training
As a new agent, you’ll attend an orientation conference and will be assigned an experienced “mentor agent” to guide you in your initial professional development. You’ll also be able to take advantage of extensive in-service training programs throughout your career. You’ll receive guidance from a district Extension administrator and support from co-workers in your office as well as from agents in other counties. Extension specialists located at Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, other universities, or at Extension district offices will assist you with information, curriculum materials and the training you’ll need to do the job effectively.
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service offers an attractive benefits package including competitive salary, annual leave and paid holidays, sick leave, unemployment compensation and state workers’ compensation insurance. You can participate in group insurance plans, including basic life insurance and optional plans for health, dental, life, accident, disability income and long-term care insurance. Retirement benefits are provided through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Social Security.
A Career With A Future
A county Extension agent position provides the opportunity for personal and professional growth. There are opportunities for additional education through graduate study and professional meetings and training. You can develop your capabilities with diverse work assignments that challenge your initiative and creativity as well as your organizational and interpersonal skills. Whether you stay in Extension for a few years or a lifetime, you’ll find it filled with the satisfaction of working for a better Texas through education.
- Master’s degree in agriculture, family and consumer science, education, science/technology, or other field relevant to the mission of Extension is the basic requirement for most positions. Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree will be considered based on their agreement to complete a Master’s degree within seven years of employment.
- For applicants with a Bachelor’s degree, four-year grade point average of 2.5 based on a 4.0 system, or 3.0 based on a 4.0 system for the last 2 years (approximately 60 hours) of college work
- Desire to work with people of diverse backgrounds and to grow and develop as an Extension professional
- Ability to work independently and as a team member
- Character and personal traits that merit a position of public trust
- Ability to become an effective teacher of youth, and adults
- Professional appearance
- Vehicle for travel (required in most counties)
Outreach Education Is Our Business
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service offers outreach education to individuals, families and communities. We provide comprehensive educational programs in agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H and youth development and community development. Our goal is to involve Texans in education that will help improve their lives, the economy and the environment. The state is our campus and the county our classroom.
Extension is a statewide educational agency and a member of The Texas A&M University System. It is linked in a unique and historic partnership with the nationwide Cooperative Extension System and Texas county governments. County agents are located in offices serving the 254 Texas counties. County programs are supported by Extension specialists located at Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, other Texas universities and at 12 regional Research and Extension Centers throughout the state.
With more than 8.4 million educational contacts each year, Extension is the largest educational outreach organization in the state and among the largest in the nation.
Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.
An Equal Opportunity Employer