The U.S. Department of Agrculture's Office of the Ombudsperson is seeking a Volunteer Intern, part- or full-time for two to four months. The internship offers an excellent exposure to a growing Ombuds program and the chance to acquire significant experience working with USDA Ombuds.

The Secretary of Agriculture created the Office of the Ombudsperson as part of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack settlement. Operating since the summer of 2015, the Office aims to improve access to USDA programs for minority farmers and ranchers by listening to concerns about access to USDA programs, reporting issues and trends to USDA leaders, and making recommendations about how to improve access for the farmers and ranchers.

Currently, the Office serves Native American producers in seven states (Arizona, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas) as part of a graduated Office roll-out. The Office will eventually expand to serve all the states and minority groups. Please see for additional information.

The Office of the Ombudsperson Volunteer Intern will learn about the functions of an external organizational ombudsman office and how to build valuable relationships within a large federal agency. The intern will assist the Ombudsperson with outreach, trend identification and office administration. This is an unpaid position located in Washington, DC. Interns are expected to work 20 - 40 hours a week (e.g., 2 – 4 months), and the exact start and end dates are negotiable. The Office of the Ombudsperson strives to adhere to the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and is a neutral, informal, independent and confidential resource at USDA.


  • Assists the Ombudsperson in outreach, trend identification and office administration.
  • Helps identify complex, controversial, or sensitive information and reports it to the Ombudsperson for further attention.
  • Contributes to identifying potential problems or trends that affect the entire organization and helps formulate recommendations to address shared concerns.
  • Maintains strict confidentiality and exercises discretion and sound judgement.
  • Strives to adhere to the International Ombudsman Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and upholds the neutrality, informality, independence and confidentiality standards.


  • A Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree in a conflict resolution program (or currently enrolled) or a related field (e.g., public policy) and/or demonstrated interest in the field.
  • Currently enrolled as a student, or a recent graduate of a Master’s program in conflict resolution or a related field (e.g., public policy).
  • Excellent problem solving abilities and active listening skills.
  • Strong background in mathematics, statistics or economics.
  • Experience in conflict resolution as a mediator, facilitator, conflict coach, or instructor, etc.
  • Able to work independently but also collaborate with others.
  • Able to establish and maintain contacts throughout an organization and external to an organization.
  • Able to work with people from diverse cultures and a demonstrated ability to be sensitive to different cultures.
  • Able to handle detailed tasks and assignments.
  • Able to work effectively with a team.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office (Excel and PPT).
  • Familiar with the organizational ombudsman field.

In order to apply, please email a resume and cover letter explaining your interest in working in the USDA Office of the Ombudsperson to Joanne Dea at

Related Ombuds Blog posts: GAO Urges USDA to Hire OmbudsSettlement With Black Farmers Will Create USDA OmbudsSettlement of Class Action Filed by American Indian Farmers Will Cr...Job PostingInternship.

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