Cornell University, Department of Food Science

Position ID:Cornell-Food-EA [#18040, WDR-00024788]
Position Title: Midwest Extension Associate
Position Type:Other
Position Location:Ithaca, Mid-West Region 14853, United States [map]
Subject Area: Food Safety / Produce Safety
Appl Deadline:2021/03/01 11:59PMhelp popup finished (2021/01/29, finished 2021/05/18, listed until 2021/03/01)
Position Description:    

*** this position has been closed and new applications are no longer accepted. ***

Academic Job Description

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences - Department of Food Science

Midwest Extension Associate


Position Function

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA), based in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University, is a collaborative project with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) to provide educational outreach assistance to fresh produce growers and packers, including grower cooperatives, to increase their understanding of the critical role they play in public health by implementing food safety practices on the farm and in packinghouses. Since 2010, the PSA has been developing and delivering a standardized curriculum to educate fruit and vegetable growers, educators, industry members, state departments of agriculture, and regulatory officials on current best practices and guidance related to produce safety, as well as the regulatory requirements that were issued by the US FDA in November 2015 in the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (a.k.a., Produce Safety Rule) as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  In addition to conducting trainings to increase understanding and implementation of practices in the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, the PSA team provides technical assistance, develops additional educational materials and facilitates collaboration nationally and internationally to address implementation challenges.


As a key member of the PSA team, the Mid-west (MW) Regional Extension Associate (REA) will be responsible for planning, organizing, instructing, and evaluating PSA training programs for produce growers, extension educators, and regulatory personnel in their region.  Due to extensive national and international collaboration established by the PSA, it is anticipated the MW REA will interact with a diverse population of individuals and groups with specific emphasis in the Midwest including, but not limited to, State Departments of Agriculture personnel, commodity groups,  Land-Grant University personnel, and the FSMA North Central Region Center for FSMA Training, Extension, and Technical Assistance (NCR FSMA Center) collaborators.  The MW REA will facilitate and provide leadership for in-person meetings as applicable, conference calls and webinars and be directly involved in training other individuals to use the developed curriculum; provide continual feedback to PSA leadership through preparation of regional impact reports, training evaluations, and outreach activities; and participate in weekly PSA team calls.  Must be willing to travel regionally and nationally a significant amount of time (~50%) pending COVID-19 control, including non-traditional and weekend work hours.  This position will be located in the Midwest U.S. with exact location being flexible within the 12-state region.  Position will be supervised by the PSA Director, Dr. Elizabeth A. Bihn.


One-year term renewable depending on performance and available funding.


Anticipated Division of Time

Program Planning & Implementation (40%)

·        Work as part of the PSA team with emphasis on honest, transparent, and open communication.

·        Coordinate and participate in university, statewide, regional, and nationwide training programs to deliver the Produce Safety Alliance’s developed curriculum to increase grower knowledge and ability to comply with regulations and market demands for food safety practices.

·        Provide science-based knowledge through educational activities including direct teaching, webinars, and other meetings and workshops for fruit and vegetable growers and other produce industry personnel.

·        Ensure outreach includes a major program emphasis on the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and produce safety practices on farms and in packinghouses, and assist growers in compliance with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

·       Act as a liaison between Cornell University and PSA collaborators, including regional Land-Grant Universities, State Departments of Agriculture, the NCR FSMA Center, and grower organizations in the Midwest.

·       Participate in the PSA Lead Trainer and Trainer-of-Trainers assessment processes to continue to develop a cadre of capable and empowered trainers across the globe.



Building Collaborative Regional Networks (20%)

·        Provide leadership in identifying and supporting regional training needs of underserved growers by working with 1862, 1890, and 1994 Land-Grant Universities, FSMA Regional Centers, produce industry, non-government organizations, and State Departments of Agriculture.

·       Communicate with produce industry members and external stakeholders through public presentations at regional grower conferences, at Extension meetings, and to governmental and non-governmental agencies.


Research & Outreach Projects (20%)

·        Plan and develop educational materials in partnership with PSA team and collaborators including supplemental curriculum material, regional/commodity/industry specific educational materials including new fact sheets, brochures, and information for the Internet, including social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

·        Prepare research results for curriculum, proposals, peer-reviewed publications, and seminars including data from focus groups, surveys, evaluations, and other activities.

·        Perform general library and internet searches to support ongoing and future Extension outreach and research projects.

·       Assist PSA leadership in the preparation of publications and grant proposals, especially in educational approaches and techniques to be used with emphasis on regional program needs.


Program Evaluation (15%)

·        Conduct evaluations of all training programs to report on performance and improve program effectiveness.

·        Conduct and contribute to evaluation of the nationwide education and outreach curriculum as well as training programs that disseminate the curriculum.

·        Evaluate qualifications of trainers including Lead Trainer Application Reviews

·       Develop verbal and written presentations of program activities, and share regional impact summaries with PSA Leadership, Executive Committee, and other stakeholders.


Other Duties as Assigned (5%)



Required Qualifications

  • Master of Science (MS) degree in Food Science, Horticulture, Environmental Science, Agricultural Science or equivalent and a minimum of 5 years of experience in a related field.
  • Advanced knowledge of Good Agricultural Practices, fruit and vegetable production, produce safety microbiology, and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Experience training growers.
  • Must be a PSA Lead Trainer with a demonstrated ability to work well with a variety of diverse audiences to organize and conduct trainings, webinars, and other outreach activities to produce growers and industry members.  
  • Must be a self-starter, interested in helping people understand and learn how to implement produce food safety practices and co-management on farms and in packinghouses.  
  • Must be able to identify and relay technical scientific information to a non-scientific audience in a practical and respectful manner, including ability to conduct literature reviews and provide appropriate information to diverse audiences.  
  • Must demonstrate sound judgment, creativity, management and problem-solving skills, and the ability to work well within a team of professionals and when acting on behalf of the university.  Prior experience in developing partnership networks, preparing training materials and managing data, managing a successful program and experience with third party audits preferred.
  • Must be personable, maintain a positive attitude, be flexible, and be able to respond productively to criticism related to program development and delivery so that many ideas can be shared to achieve the best outcome.  
  • Must have public speaking, adult education, and presentation experience.
  • Must have and maintain a valid Driver’s License and have dependable transportation that allows for travel to regional locations.  Must be willing to travel nationally and internationally.
  • Must be able to lift up to 50 lbs.
  • Must be proficient in Microsoft Office suite (Excel, Word, PowerPoint) and webinar programs (Zoom, Adobe Connect, Go-To-Meeting).
  • Must be able to work closely with the supervisor under remote supervision, keep supervisor informed of progress, work independently to complete tasks and possess excellent organizational, writing, and communication skills.


Preferred Qualifications

  • PSA Trainer-of-Trainers
  • Food Science, Horticulture, Environmental Science, Agricultural Science or equivalent with experience working in produce safety.
  • Experience facilitating group discussions and leading teams of people through to completion of tasks/assignments in an efficient, safe and timely manner.
  • Research experience in an area relevant to produce safety such as produce safety education, surface water quality, or compost production.
  • Fluency in a language other than English.
  • Experience writing grant proposals and refereed journal publications.
  • Ability to work with University, regional, and national media outlets to provide factual and timely updates about training activities, regulatory impacts, and PSA updates.


Supervision Exercised

No direct supervision involved in this position.

Employment Assistance: If you require an accommodation for a disability in order to complete an employment application or to participate in the recruiting process, you are encouraged to contact Cornell University's Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at voice (607) 255-3976, fax (607) 255-7481, or email at For general questions about the position or the application process, please contact the Recruiter listed in the job posting. Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor. You may also visit the office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention Monday - Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to use a dedicated workstation to complete an online application. Notice to Applicants: Please read the required Notice to Applicants statement by clicking here. This notice contains important information about applying for a position at Cornell as well as some of your rights and responsibilities as an applicant. EEO Statement: Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university's mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:
And anything else requested in the position description.

Further Info:
Department of Food Science
M10 Stocking Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853