Position Summary

Descriptive Title

Extension specialist in Christmas Tree Production and Marketing

Position Description

Position Summary:

The College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University is seeking an effective and dynamic educator to fill the Extension specialist position in Christmas Tree Production and Marketing focusing primarily on the intensive culture of Fraser fir Christmas trees. This is a full-time, 1.0 FTE, 12-month professional staff position within the 13-person Extension Forestry team of 4 faculty and 9 staff, which includes a Christmas tree integrated pest management specialist and a Christmas tree geneticist. The Extension forestry team works collectively with faculty and staff in tourism and wood products to form the overall Extension program in the College of Natural Resources. This position is based in Western North Carolina, with Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Jackson counties as the primary areas of responsibility, but the successful applicant will have to travel periodically throughout North Carolina. Office space will be provided in either Extension or NC Department of Agriculture facilities within the primary area of responsibility. The Christmas Tree Production and Marketing Extension Specialist will provide leadership for the development, delivery, and evaluation of educational programming and materials with an emphasis on Christmas tree production and marketing for NC Christmas tree producers. In addition, the Specialist will build collaborative partnerships with a variety of stakeholders including county Extension personnel, landowners, state and federal agencies, non[1]government organizations, natural resource professionals and others to increase the visibility and reach of North Carolina Cooperative Extension. They will be responsible for developing and delivering educational programming to diverse audiences, including stakeholders from diverse socio-demographic groups and with varied background knowledge of forest management and Christmas tree production. The successful applicant will have ample opportunity to travel throughout North Carolina (4WD state vehicle provided) working in Christmas tree fields, collecting samples, and interacting with Christmas tree growers. Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains are popular destinations for their natural beauty and in proximity to lively cities and towns known for culinary delights, outdoor recreation, and regional arts and crafts.

The Specialist will work with researchers, Extension professionals, and others within the College of Natural Resources, across the university, and other agencies to interpret and disseminate current research findings consistent with the philosophy, policy, and overall educational objectives of North Carolina Cooperative Extension and NC State University. Educational information and program delivery will be in cooperation with NC Cooperative Extension field faculty, current Extension Forestry team members, statewide partners, and stakeholders, and should use a variety of delivery strategies appropriate for the target audience. Strategies could include workshops, short courses, demonstration projects, webinars, podcasts, publications, fact sheets, mass media, and social media. The Christmas Tree Production and Marketing Extension Specialist will report to the Associate Dean of Extension in the College of Natural Resources.


  • Develop, execute, and evaluate an innovative and inclusive Extension program in Christmas tree production and marketing with emphasis primarily on the intensive culture of Fraser fir Christmas trees.
  • Employ a variety of teaching and communication methods and formats tailored to meet the needs of diverse audiences.
  • Provide support to North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Agents with Christmas tree responsibilities.
  • Provide essential leadership to Christmas tree grower associations, which are primary providers of educational meetings in NC.
  • Perform, design, and support applied research relevant to Extension needs related to Fraser fir Christmas trees and other mountain conifers.
  • Seek external funding that expands the impact of their extension program.
  • Cultivate and develop collegial and productive working relationships with North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service county personnel, NC Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services research stations, Christmas tree producers, farm workers, faculty, staff, students and others including from relevant state and federal agencies to meet subject matter needs.
  • Collaborate with other faculty as appropriate to conduct applied research and to mentor students.
  • Engage in service to the department, college, Cooperative Extension, university, and professional societies.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


Qualifications and Skills:

Educational Qualifications

A Master’s degree(s) or higher in tree physiology, horticulture, plant biology, or similar area.


Required Qualifications and Skills

  • Demonstrated ability to plan, conduct, and evaluate participatory non-formal education programs.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, including effective use of electronic and printed media.
  • Self-directed and self-motivated with the ability to multitask, set priorities, seek opportunities, manage resources, and exhibit success.
  • Basic knowledge of educational technologies (common computer software programs, Zoom, Panopto, Powerpoint/Google Slides, etc) and their appropriate use in the development and delivery of educational programs and materials.
  • Ability to secure external funding in support of Extension programs.
  • Demonstrate a general knowledge of weed management including herbicides mode of action.
  • Demonstrated experience in nursery and/or field production, harvest, & management of plant material and/or conifers–including soil fertility management, & post-harvest quality.
  • Ability to obtain/maintain a current North Carolina pesticide license.
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a valid North Carolina driver’s license; willingness to drive extended distances statewide.
  • Ability to match schedule to Extension needs including the delivery of evening and weekend educational programs and activities as determined by programming and collaborator needs.
  • Ability to work outdoors in all seasons under all types of weather conditions, and frequently in very steep mountain terrains.

Preferred Qualifications and Skills

  • Ph.D. or terminal degree strongly preferred in appropriate discipline. A strong candidate with a M.S. level degree in an appropriate discipline with experience may be considered.
  • Knowledge of abiotic issues related to conifer production.
  • Demonstrated ability to plan, organize, work, teach, and interact with diverse populations, including stakeholders from different socio-demographic groups and with varied background knowledge of Christmas tree production.
  • Demonstrated ability to teach effectively in non-formal settings, including but not limited to field days, demonstrations, workshops, and public events.
  • Demonstrated experience writing grants for external funding to support educational outreach programming.
  • Demonstrated ability to coordinate and/or implement an applied research program.
  • Experience using a variety of digital media tools to create engaging educational materials to reach expanding and new online audiences.
  • Working knowledge of Christmas tree production and associated integrated pest management practices.
  • Verbal and written communication skills in both English and Spanish.
  • Fluency in Spanish is desirable.
  • 107 UAV (drone) pilot license is desirable.
  • NC aerial pesticide applicator license is desirable.

Physical Demands of the Position:

The physical demands of the position described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the basic essential functions of the Extension Specialist in Christmas Tree Production and Marketing position. North Carolina State University is committed to determining and supporting accommodations as needed to meet the physical demands of this position.

  • Presenting information through vocal and written communication to individuals and large groups.
  • Traversing steep mountainous terrain, across farm fields and other areas.
  • Operation of a motorized passenger vehicle or other vehicles such as pickup trucks with trailers, farm tractors or similar equipment.
  • Transport materials between event and or research locations, including loading and unloading a vehicle with materials, some weighing up to 50 pounds.
  • Utilize equipment, such as backpack sprayers, requiring to carry up to 50 lbs.
  • Setting up and breaking down displays at events and research trials.
  • Setting up tables and chairs at events.
  • Many programs and events are outdoors and may occur during temperature extremes or inclement weather conditions.

Salary & Benefits:

Salary will be commensurate with experience: Master’s base salary starting at $58,240, Ph.D.’s base salary starting at $70,720. North Carolina State University offers an extensive benefits package; for more information visit https://benefits.hr.ncsu.edu/.


Application Procedure: Confidential review of applications will commence February 26, 2024, and continue until the position is filled. Applications are only accepted via the NC State University portal http://jobs.ncsu.edu/hr/postings/196997 and include:

  • Cover letter stating the motivation for the application
  • Resume or CV
  • Contact information for three references
  • A one-page statement of Extension experience and philosophy (uploaded as other Document 2)
  • A one-page statement of scientific research experience and philosophy (uploaded as other Document 3)

The proposed start date is June 24, 2024. Inquiries about the position may be directed to Dr. Justin Whitehill (Assistant Professor), Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at jwhiteh2@ncsu.edu.


AA/EOE: NC State University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, status as an individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran.

For individuals with disabilities requiring disability-related accommodations in the application and interview process, please call the university’s Visitor ADA Coordinator at 919-515-3148.

Final candidates are subject to criminal & sex offender background checks. Some vacancies also require credit or motor vehicle checks. If the highest degree is from an institution outside of the U.S., final candidates are required to have their degree verified at www.wes.org. The degree must be obtained prior to the start date.

NC State University participates in E-Verify. Federal law requires all employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all persons hired to work in the United States.


About the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources: The Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER) is part of NC State University’s College of Natural Resources and is one of the oldest and largest departments of its kind in the nation. We are home to over 90 full-time faculty and staff, more than 750 undergraduate and 150 graduate students. We are based in Raleigh, North Carolina and our activities include teaching, research, and extension. Inclusiveness and diversity are integral to our mission and commitment to excellence in education, extension, and research. The department offers comprehensive undergraduate programs in Environmental Science; Environmental Technology and Management; Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology; Forest Management; Natural Resources Ecosystem Assessment; and Natural Resources Policy and Administration; graduate non-thesis programs in Environmental Assessment; Forestry; Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology; and Natural Resources; as well as the traditional thesis degrees of MS and PhD in Forestry and in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology. We are recognized worldwide for our cutting-edge research of systems and issues that impact landscapes, populations, economics, policies, and cultures at local to global scales. Our research project teams are cross-disciplinary and are often comprised of experts from a variety of fields within FER, the broader College of Natural Resources, other colleges at NC State and representatives from government agencies, the private sector, industry or other universities. We support NC State’s land grant mission by maintaining a robust extension and outreach program. We believe in sharing our knowledge with the people of North Carolina and supporting the economic prosperity of NC communities by enabling North Carolinians to make informed decisions concerning the management, enhancement, and enjoyment of their forest and other natural resources through sound, research-based information and education.

To learn more about the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources please visit: https://cnr.ncsu.edu/fer/

Why you should apply: NC State University is one of the largest Universities in the Research Triangle and is ranked as one of the best employers in North Carolina. Our team embodies a culture that values collaboration, creativity, innovation, diversity, and teamwork. NC State University provides work/life balance, a team-oriented culture, and work that makes a difference in our community.