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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

What is PEAK?

The ARS Executive PEAK is a challenging leadership development program providing specialized training and experiences for ARS executive leaders of the future. PEAK is competitive, rigorous, and designed for high potential employees. The objective: develop a culturally diverse group of highly qualified men and women as future ARS leaders who have vision and think strategically, are adaptable and able to lead change while managing a multicultural workforce, and are accountable for results.


Program, administrative, and NAL employees may apply for PEAK. Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Grade GS-14 or above
  • A record of superior research productivity (Program employees)
  • A record of superior achievement in administrative management (Administrative employees)
  • A record of superior achievement in library science or a related field (NAL employees)
  • A record of leadership accomplishment
  • A record of ARS supervisory/management experience
  • Willingness to move to various ARS locations

ARS management consists of leaders at the mid-level, and an executive leadership team comprising the Administrator, Associate Administrator, Deputy Administrators, and Area Directors. The PEAK program is designed for high potential individuals at the mid-level who are preparing to step up to the executive leadership level. Certain training and experiences are critical for executive development, and those applicants who have completed these activities will be more competitive for PEAK than those who have not. Among these types of experiences are:

  • A detail with the National Program Staff (NPS)
  • A detail with the Office of International Research Programs or the Office of Technology Transfer
  • Participation in the Congressional Briefing Seminar
  • Work experience in an Area office
  • Executive leadership training (FEI, Carnegie-Mellon)
  • Some supervisory and management experience
  • Significant personal accomplishment in the area of outreach, civil rights, or diversity.

Selection Panel

A selection panel will be named by the ARS Administrator to review the applications. Some applicants may be interviewed. The panel will forward recommendations to the Administrator, ARS who will make the final selections.

Applications are available on the ARS Web site:

Applications must be submitted by the due date, and must include the approval signature of the applicant's Area Director; the Deputy Administrator, NPS or AFM; the Director, NAL; or a staff office director.

PEAK Program Manager
Jamie Wadzink

5601 Sunnyside Avenue
Mail Stop 5108, Room 3-2161
Beltsville, MD 20705-5000
301 504-1007

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Last Modified: 11/27/2015
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