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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Posted: 02/6/2019
Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development (Food Systems)

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

University of Illinois Extension

Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development – 108058

The Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development, Food Systems will focus on creating opportunities through programming for youth to learn about rural and metro food systems. Topics include but are not limited to food production, agri-science, gardening, food distribution, hunger and food insecurity, and sustainable communities. This person will provide leadership in creating a pathway of experiences for youth from county to state to national/international levels. This position serves as a regular, full-time, 12-month academic professional staff member of the State 4-H Office of University of Illinois Extension within the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES). The State 4-H Office provides leadership to the 4-H Youth Development Program delivered through University of Illinois Extension staff and offices throughout the state. This position will integrate program leadership, partnership, scholarship, and public engagement into its everyday practice. In collaboration with University of Illinois faculty, Extension staff and partners, this position will lead and consult on statewide research and programs related to food system.

One full-time position is available.

Location: State 4-H Office, Champaign, IL

Additional positions may become available in other locations.

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit To learn more about the University’s commitment to diversity, please visit

This is a security-sensitive position. Comprehensive background checks, including but not limited to a criminal conviction information check, a CANTS (Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System) check, and a review of the Registered Sex Offender List will be conducted.

Specific responsibilities of the Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development are as follows:

Program Development and Delivery

· Assess the statewide needs for out-of-school time youth food systems programs in a systematic and analytical manner.

· Develop and provide leadership for non-formal youth education programs in areas of rural and metro food systems that support the 4-H mission to provide hands-on learning, equip youth with skills and experiences for mastery, create opportunities for related career exploration, and empower youth to use what they learn to influence and impact others.

· Develop, communicate and execute a strategic plan for growth and quality of 4-H food systems; includes vision for programs delivered by county 4-H staff and volunteers, as well as state/national events.

State/National Youth Experience Development and Delivery

· Provide leadership for the design and implementation of state and national food systems learning experiences. Those include but are not limited to, 4-H Hunger Ambassador Summit.

· Develop opportunities for youth leadership, advocacy and service in relation to food systems challenges at local, state and national levels.

· Work as part of a State 4-H Office team to support statewide events such as State Fair and connect to other aspects of the state 4-H Youth Development plan of work as needed.

Professional Development Programming / 4-H Program Technical Assistance

· Identify, design, and teach professional development experiences for Extension staff, volunteers, and other partners located throughout the state related to research-informed best practices in food systems programs and positive youth development, as well as training related to working with diverse audiences of youth.

· Serve as a liaison between county-based staff and the State 4-H office for help in implementing 4-H policies, grants and state-supported programs.

Partnership Development

· Serve as Illinois liaison for state and national committees related to work around food systems youth programs.

· Establish professional relationships and participate in campus-based partnerships to inform and support 4-H youth food systems programs delivered across the state.

· Establish community and industry partnerships to support 4-H program goals.

Research and Development

· Research and evaluate both short and long-term impact of 4-H youth food systems initiatives.

· Contribute to and integrate research as it relates to 4-H youth food systems initiatives in collaboration with University of Illinois faculty and Extension staff across different disciplines.

· Research and apply for target grants that will support youth food systems programs. Includes budget management, staff supervision and program evaluation.

Other Information:

  • Assume additional related responsibilities to enhance and further the mission of University of Illinois Extension.

· Local, regional and (limited) statewide travel required.

  • Comply with all Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity policies and guidelines in all aspects of Extension work; assist Unit staff with data collection for Affirmative Action, Gender, and Targeted reports as needed.

· To perform the functions of this position, the employee will be required to perform work both within an office and outside in the communities that are served, and must have the capability to travel from one location to the other in a timely fashion. Employee is responsible for securing personal transportation. A valid driver’s license is preferred. Some work will be required during evenings and/or weekends. When working, the employee may be exposed to a variety of environmental factors to include, but not limited to, hot or cold weather, exposure to noise and allergens, and uneven ground. In performing the functions of this position, the employee may be subjected to various mental and physical demands as well to include, but not limited to, independently traveling to and performing work at different locations, lifting and moving items that may occasionally weigh up to forty (40) pounds and frequently weigh up to twenty (20) pounds, and twisting, pushing and pulling movements. More detailed information regarding the functions of this position (including the physical, mental and environmental requirements of the position) may be obtained from Human Resources for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) by contacting  


The Extension Specialist, 4-H Youth Development is administratively responsible to the Assistant Dean and Director, 4-H Youth Development, and is a member of the State 4-H Office staff.


· Master’s degree in field related to food systems, agriculture, health/nutrition or youth development. Candidates with a Master’s degree in progress may be considered for interviews, but degree must be completed by hire date. Experience relevant to the role of this description in food systems, agriculture, health/nutrition, youth development or similar field. Understanding of positive youth development. Understanding of food systems issues as they relate to both rural and urban communities.


· Experience working with youth as program collaborators and/or engaging youth in community service, advocacy or leadership roles. Experience working with diverse youth audiences. Experience in cross-organizational partnerships. Experience is design and implementation of youth programs. Experience in applied research. Experience with grant writing and implementation.


The position is a full-time, benefits-eligible, non-tenure academic professional position appointed on a 12-month service basis. The expected start date is as soon as possible after the closing date. Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Generous vacation and sick leave. State Universities Retirement System. Group health, dental, vision and life insurance.


To apply, go to Log in to your account and upload a cover letter and resume, as well as the names and contact information of three professional references. Resume dates must be in month/year format and employment history, at a minimum, should include all work dating back to the completion of your undergraduate degree. Positions that were less than full-time/100% must be noted as being part-time. Transcripts may be requested at a later date. To receive full consideration, all requested application materials must be submitted via the online system by the close date of March 6, 2019.

For further information please contact Lisa Merrifield at For technical assistance with the online application process call 217-333-6747 or email