Plant Protection and Quarantine Officer (Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist)
Department Of Agriculture - Miami, FL

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Relocation expenses will not be paid. The incumbent is the primary liaison for the Agency on operational activities in a specific geographical area and works with state officials, other agencies, industry, colleges and universities, and others interested in activities affected by Agency plant quarantine programs. The incumbent performs a variety of specialized duties that provide a comprehensive approach to biosecurity minimizing the risk of biological and economic damage caused by exotic, non-native plant and animal organisms to agriculture, natural resources, and U.S. trade initiatives involving overall plant health activities.

You can make a difference! The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) needs bright, energetic and committed professionals to facilitate the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and to protect the health and care of animals and plants in the United States. MRP offers an array of occupations and is committed to diversity in the workplace. We operate in domestic and global markets. Be part of an organization that protects the health and agriculture of the American people. Join our team!

APHIS is an emergency response agency. This means that all Agency employees may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty assignments to support emergency programs at some time during their careers with APHIS. For details click: APHIS Emergency Response


U.S. Citizenship

The duties may include, but are not limited to:
Manages multiple program areas and/or a multi-faceted program (or areas for which a program will be developed), such as post-entry quarantine, gypsy moth, biological control, grasshopper/Mormon cricket, biotechnology, noxious weeds, boll weevil, or other pests.

Provides recommendations to the supervisor and staff on design and development of guidelines, operational standards, and procedures.

Drafts proposals or work plans and financial plans to be used for survey, sampling, control, trace back, regulatory, methods development and improvement, and/or eradication phases of programs or other projects.

Serves as accredited certifying official regarding export certification, which includes interpreting foreign quarantine regulations to facilitate international trade, issuing Federal Phytosanitary Certificates, and ensuring proper maintenance of the fee collection process.

Provides specialized inspection, regulation, and clearance of high risk propagative plant material and plant products and pest diagnostic identification services at plant inspection stations and/or other facilities.

Plans, conducts, and/or supervises various treatments and remedial measures, such as disinfection, sterilization, fumigation, cold treatment, hot water treatment, and irradiation of regulated articles for plant and animal pests and diseases.

Has a broad range of responsibilities under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), including reviewing permits, seizing shipments without proper documents, safeguarding seized or forfeited property, and maintaining accurate files on CITES transactions.

To qualify, you MUST meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.


Degree in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position.

Selective Factor: The qualifying degree must have included at least 24 semester hours in course work, such as agronomy, cell biology, botany, entomology, forestry, horticulture, mycology, nematology, plant pathology, soil science, or other closely related courses. Applicants who do not possess or fail to submit documentation of completion of this requirement will be found not qualified.


Combination of Education and Experience: Courses equivalent to a major, as shown in “Selective Factor” above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

Experience may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors. Examples of qualifying experience include, but are not limited to:

Knowledge of methods and programs used to control, treat, eradicate, and manage native and exotic pest populations and/or disease in the U.S. and ability to perform regulatory and complex treatment duties.

Computer skills in using Microsoft Office and GIS software; performing queries and running reports using Microsoft Excel, IPHIS, Arc GIS Suite.

Experience in multiple domestic program areas and/or multifaceted programs, such as citrus diseases, fruit fly detection, gypsy moth, biological control, grasshopper/Mormon cricket, etc.

Professional knowledge of pertinent regulations, policies, and procedures of agricultural quarantine principles, biological and scientific principles, and techniques of collection and identification.

TRANSCRIPTS are required. This education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university. For more information on submitting transcripts, click: Transcripts .

To learn more about combining education and experience for this series, click the following: Combining Education and Experience for Professional and Scientific Positions .

Special Conditions:
Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with the Selective Service.

DD214 (Member 4 copy) or other veterans' documents required to receive veterans' preference.

As a condition of employment, a background investigation may be required for this position.

Subject to satisfactory completion of one-year probationary period.

Must maintain a security clearance level sufficient to perform the essential functions of this position.

Valid state driver's license required at time of hiring; work may involve driving long distances, occasionally in poor driving conditions.

Transcripts must be submitted for this position.

Must be able to travel on a routine basis and be willing to work at odd times, including overtime, weekends, holidays, and shifts.

Required to travel to remote locations at various facilities and may be required to spend extended periods of time at these locations, usually not more than 30 days.

Field visits may require physical exertion, such as walking over rough or rocky terrain or climbing ladders on rail cars or grain elevators; loading, unloading, and carrying moderately heavy materials is sometimes necessary.

May experience discomfort due to adverse weather conditions, high noise levels, pesticides, and working around agricultural or industrial equipment.

May be required to maintain certification for the wearing of personal protective equipment, including respirators such as Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), and maintain a valid pesticide certification.

Must be certified under the USDA- APHIS- PPQ pesticide applicator certification program within 12 months after assuming the duties of the position. Failure to achieve certification within the specified time will result in appropriate corrective action.

MUST ATTEND BASIC AGRICULTURE SAFEGUARDING TRAINING (BAST). The purpose of BAST is to provide relevant training to help PPQ Officers acquire new skills and knowledge to enable them to accomplish PPQ's mission. Officers certified through BAST will be able to conduct plant health safeguarding activities authorized by the Plant Protection Act of 2000 and related regulations.

The core instruction will take place at the Professional Development Center in Frederick, MD. Additionally, portions of the training will be completed at the employee’s work unit. The time frame for completing BAST is within the first year of employment, but may be extended by the PPQ Program beyond this period, if necessary.

Your application will be rated on the extent and quality of your experience, education and training relevant to the position. Your resume must support that you meet the specialized experience requirements described above and are proficient in the following skills or competencies below. Please note you are not required to provide specific narrative responses to the skills and competencies described in this section.

Ability to perform entry- and development-level plant protection and quarantine work as a plant health safeguarding specialist

Ability to conduct inspections and/or surveys to detect existing or potential threats to U.S. agriculture or other interests

Knowledge of the methods and programs used to control, treat, eradicate, and manage native and exotic pest populations and/or disease in the U.S. and ability to perform regulatory and complex treatment duties

Knowledge of Federal Plant Protection and Quarantine programs pertaining to plant pests and the related importation and/or exportation of products

Ability to facilitate safe trade and export certification in order to make U.S. agriculture competitive in world markets

Ability to carry out permitting and compliance activities

Ability to manage program and organizational effectiveness and efficiency

Oral, written, and interpersonal communication

Category rating procedures will be used to rank and select eligible candidates. The following quality categories will be used: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, and Qualified. Within each quality category, veterans' preference eligibles will receive selection priority over non-veterans.

Your final category placement will be based on your responses to the assessment questionnaire. Please ensure your resume provides enough detail to support your responses.

If, after reviewing your resume and / or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score can / will be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Deliberate attempts to falsify information may be grounds for not selecting you.

To preview questions please click here .

Eligibility for employee benefits depends on your type of appointment and your tour of duty (work schedule). Generally, you must be hired on a permanent basis and have a regular full or part-time work schedule. For more information on potential benefits, go to: Federal Employee Benefits

Salary range does not reflect the general pay increase scheduled for April 2013.

For information regarding CTAP eligibility for displaced Federal employees click: Career Transition Assistance Programs

More than one selection may be made if another vacancy occurs within 90 days of the issuance of the certification of eligibles.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

For information on filing a complaint of discrimination, click: Filing a Complaint

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