Extension Specialist-Fixed – Eaton, TN

Extension Specialist-Fixed

Michigan State University

Eaton, TN


Working/Functional Title

Apple Extension Specialist

Position Summary

Michigan State University Extension is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive organization, which requires all staff to contribute towards a vision for success. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to our work, regardless of title or position within the organization. This means that all staff at MSU Extension are dedicated to the following:

  • We work together to ensure that programming is delivered to diverse audiences, produces equitable impacts for all participants, and demonstrates partnership and inclusion for all groups.
  • We embrace that it is everyone’s job to create a culture that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
  • We ensure that every team member is prepared with the skills and resources to contribute to our welcoming and inclusive culture.
  • We foster inclusion by recognizing and valuing diverse perspectives, skills, experiences, and work to create equal access to programming for communities.
  • We commit to continuous learning for diversity, equity, and cultural competency, in order to achieve inclusive excellence.
  • We understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential elements to our work and are vital to the organizational culture and programmatic success of MSU Extension.
  • We embrace a culture of understanding, coaching and feedback towards achieving a vision of success for the entire organization and its staff.
  • Together we will achieve success and we commit to these goals in our work, continued education, and ongoing efforts.  



As part of MSU Extension (MSUE), the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute (AABI) and MSU AgBioResearch (ABR), this position provides local and statewide leadership and will conduct programming and applied research in apple production. Michigan is the second-most agriculturally diverse state within the United States and is the 3rd leading apple producing state in the U.S. This position is located near the major apple production region in Michigan. The position will conduct Extension programming and research germane to the apple industry and work with apple growers within the region and statewide as needed and will collaborate across work teams and Institutes, including working with faculty, specialists, and educators to achieve efficient, profitable, and sustainable apple production and overall advancement for the Michigan apple industry.


In this position, you will also design, implement, and evaluate educational programming based on basic and applied research addressing the needs of Michigan growers. You will secure intra- and extramural grant funding to support your research and Extension programs, will ensure dissemination of research-based information through various methods, including multi-media, social media, personal education, and written articles, and will provide growers, processors, and agri-business professionals with the knowledge to profitably produce their crop, while minimizing environmental impact. Additionally, you will serve as an informational resource for MSU personnel and clientele.


The position will be based at the 440-acre Clarksville Research Center, located in Clarksville, Michigan, near the leading apple producing region of Michigan.  


This position is a full-time, fixed term end-dated appointment, renewable annually based upon successful performance and continued funding.


Characteristic Duties/Responsibilities

  • Develop, conduct, and evaluate innovative research-based educational programs that meet current and projected statewide needs of apple growers, processors, and agri-business professionals, and supports growth and understanding of critical issues facing people in Michigan.
  • Develop an innovative, and forward-thinking applied apple research program, intra- and extramurally funded, addressing contemporary and future industry needs.
  • Develop and maintain positive working relationships intra- and inter-organizationally and create and promote positive public relations for MSU Extension, AABI and ABR.
  • Understand and support the Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute’s and AgBioResearch’s efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion, and Civil Rights, with a special emphasis on removing barriers from participation and reaching diverse populations, including but not limited to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status, socio-economic class and other human differences.
  • Serve as an information resource for apple personnel throughout Michigan, and work with statewide AABI workgroups to effectively plan and implement relevant programming.
  • Author/co-author, produce, and submit research results, reports, and educational articles in appropriate venues including University publications and websites, industry publications, and scientific journals.
  • In concert with the MSUE work team(s) and MSU AgBioResearch, interact with federal, state, and county agencies that support agriculture industries to determine research, demonstration, and programmatic needs of the region as well as the state, and communicate those needs to county commissioners, campus-based departments, and research partners.
  • Develop and utilize appropriate media methods to communicate current and timely information, research results, and relevant industry updates, as well as a schedule of current and future activities.
  • Collaborate with MSU Extension and AgBioResearch staff to gather and report programming outputs and impacts, to demonstrate program effectiveness, and to guide future program priorities for MSU Extension, the AABI, work teams, and ABR. 
  • Actively participate in professional development opportunities.
  • Other duties or projects as assigned by the Institute Director with input from the AgBioResearch Director.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, disability or protected veteran status.

Required Degree

Masters -Horticulture, Crop Science, Apple Produc

Desired Degree

Doctorate -Horticulture, Crop Science, Apple Produc

Minimum Requirements

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution in a field of study related to horticulture or crop science, and/or related to apple production must be earned by date of hire.
  • Background in apple production, and experience in horticulture practices related to apple research and education.  
  • Experience conducting research independently.
  • Experience successfully acquiring and managing grant funding and resources.
  • Ability to demonstrate sensitivity, knowledge, and use of appropriate approaches, skills, and techniques, which reflect an understanding and awareness of social, cultural, and economic diversity of the target population served.
  • Ability to create and carry-out a project plan from development of initial concept to project completion and follow-up/impact assessment.
  • Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills.
  • Experience and proven ability working productively with a team serving in both leadership and contributor roles.
  • Self-motivated with demonstrated ability to work independently in an office environment without daily supervision and/or coaching.
  • Proficiency in use of technology (e.g., web research, Zoom, Qualtrics, Microsoft Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook for mail/calendaring, distance delivery/communication technology, etc.) for day-to-day work and educational program delivery, record keeping, reporting, team-based communications, and overall management.
  • Experience with marketing/promotion of educational programs.
  • Demonstrated success in program development and delivery to diverse audiences/communities, and proven ability in establishing and working with a diverse network of constituents and community members across race, color, gender, national origin, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, veteran status, socioeconomic class, and other differences.
  • Ability to travel in local and surrounding communities and occasional long-distance travel are required as a regular part of this position.
  • Transportation is the responsibility of the employee.
  • Demonstrated skills and professional development from the last five years related to cultural competency and inclusive excellence.
  • Other skills and/or physical abilities required to perform duties of the position.

Desired Qualifications

  • Persons with a Ph.D. from an accredited institution in a field of study related to horticulture, or crop science with a background in apple production.
  • Three or more years of experience in Extension program delivery or demonstrated ability and skill in horticulture practices related to apple research and education (relevant experience acquired within the last 5-years preferred).  
  • Demonstrated drive and initiative, with proven ability to manage multiple responsibilities and tasks simultaneously.

Required Application Materials

Current resume/CV.

Cover letter.

Four (4) professional references including two (2) current or previous supervisors.

Together-we-will Statement

The university is requiring all MSU students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at: https://msu.edu/together-we-will/

Special Instructions

This position is a full-time, fixed term end-dated appointment, renewable annually based upon successful performance and continued funding.

Summary of Physical Demands

Essential functions of this position include:

Ability to lift a bushel of apples from the floor to a table with an anticipated weight of up to 65 pounds.

Ability to carry a bushel of apples weighing up to 65 pounds a distance of approximately 20 feet to move from one part of storage to another.


MSU Statement

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.


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