Love the job you have.

I've been in & out of the office this week - taking vacation to help Clint AI cows, and heading in to work for partial days when we're done.

I love helping Clint - but I also love my job.

I thought now was as good of a time as ever to post this.....


Most days at work look like me sitting at my desk, working at my computer helping farmers & ranchers with appointments, answering questions from producers or staff, and just helping with the general day to day running of our office.

But a few days a year, I get to go out and talk about working for USDA at career fairs.

Two weeks ago I spent a day in Hermiston at the Bulldog Career Discovery Fair where I visited with 4th graders from elementary schools in Hermiston, and a whole host of high school students from Umatilla and Hermiston high schools.

One of my best friends Lindsay teaches 4th grade at Rocky Heights and these are two of her students who I told need to come work for USDA "when they grow up"!  :)

It's easy to talk about my job because I love it.
I honestly don't see myself doing anything else besides what I do and I'm so thankful I found my career so quickly after college. 

Some people spend years in various jobs before they find their {fit} and I feel like I found that right off of the bat.
Setting up for the fair in the morning - I spy my good friend & booth neighbor Shannon of fotoNovella to the right!

As the students came around to everyone's booths at the career fair, they had different questions they asked to get a feel for the different types of jobs out there.  The goal of the career fair was not to hire anyone (since all who attended were still students) but to expose kids to the different types of jobs that are availabe, and what experience/skills/education they may need to get a job after they graduate.

I thought it'd be fun to list the questions they asked with answers here:

1. What is your name?
I'm Darcy Sexson.

Easiest question of the day!  :)

2. Who do you work for?
I work for the USDA Farm Service Agency in Umatilla County and I'm a County Executive Director there.

3. Tell me about your job.
My team & I work with farmers and ranchers to help administer Farm Bill programs to them.  Basically, I work in an office behind a desk and the farmers and ranchers come to our office and we help them fill out paperwork that makes them eligible for different programs. 

4. Why did you choose this career? 
I actually kind of fell into this career.  I was in FFA in high school, and really involved with agriculture but I had never heard of the Farm Service Agency until I was applying for a job after college.  Clint had been asked to manage a ranch near Burns, OR and was considering the offer....and I thought to myself, "Well if we're going to move to Burns, I need to either become a teacher or get a job with the government!".  (Note: Burns is in a remote part of Oregon and is primarily agricultural based.)  I started to look online and found a job posting for a "County Operations Trainee" that was located anywhere in Oregon.  I called the state FSA office, and asked if the job would ever be located in Burns and was told "probably not" so I didn't apply.  A few months later after we had decided not to move to Burns, the same job was advertised and I ended up applying.  I was hired and after 7 months of training, I was hired in Heppner as the County Executive Director.  I stayed in the Morrow County office for two and a half years, when we moved to Nebraska where I was the CED in Buffalo County for under a year, when we moved back to Oregon.  At that point, I was hired as the CED in Umatilla County and have been here ever since.

That's the extended version...LOL.

5. What are the educational requirements of your job?
To work for FSA as a Program Technician, you only need to have a high school degree.  To be a manager, you need a four year college degree, and a degree in agriculture is the most desirable.

6. Are there specific courses or other requirements you look for in prospective employees?
I told the kids it was really important in our job that they have a good math & English background, and it's a bonus if they have an agricultural background. 

7. Describe your best day at work.
We'd have a fast paced day, with a lot of producers coming in for appointments.  I'd work at my computer, helping farmers sign up for programs, and then the boss would bring Starbucks.

Note: The "boss" is me....and I do try to treat my staff to coffee or something similar a few days a month.  :)  The girls in my office work hard and I try to find small ways to tell them "thank you".

8. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
I think the most challenging part of our job is the aspect of change.  So much of what we do can change from day to day, or year to year as new Farm Bills or regulations are rolled out.  For some people (myself and my staff) - we can adapt to change well and keep on rolling with the punches. 

9. What qualities or traits do you look for in employees?

This was my favorite question to answer -

#1 - I want to hire a hard working individual.
#2 - I want to hire someone who is quick thinking & smart.
#3 - I want to hire a person who has a positive attitude.

I'd ask the kids:

"Are you a hard worker?" 

 Some would respond quickly - YES!  Others - you could tell that they were not and they'd half answer.  I tried to tell them (kindly, but firmly) that being a hard worker will take you FAR in life.  That whatever job you chose - if you were a hard worker, you would be able to accomplish much.

This discussion usually led to one about salaries & the value that being a hard worker returns to you.  Multiple students would say "It's not all about money" and I agreed with him....but then I explained that when you become an adult, wouldn't you like to be able to afford to buy a home, drive a reliable car and put food on your table?  Every student shook their head yes....and you could see the lightbulbs going off in their heads as they realized that all of these things require money. 

10. What are some of the perks of your job?
Working for USDA comes along with a lot of great benefits - a flexible schedule, time off, sick leave, a retirement plan, matching savings plan, etc.
My favorite perk though is my schedule - I get every other Friday off.  I work eight 9 hour days and one 8 hour day every two weeks for a total of 80 hours.  That extra day off gives me a three day weekend every other weekend and I can really get a lot of "fun" things done then! 
Do you love your job?
What skills would you recommend a child develop during school?
Did your education dictate your career success?


  1. Love this! Now come to Missouri and talk to my classroom of kids. : ))


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