Employment opportunities should bode well for college graduates with agricultural backgrounds, according to a report touted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Those with “expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environmen,” could see the greatest opportunities, the report states.
Students with degrees and training in science, technology, engineeringand mathematics (STEM) could also wind up at the head of the class when it comes to what employers seek.
This does not surprise me for a couple reasons. Students with Ag backgrounds, particularly those who are FFA members, are impressive and well-positioned to excel.
Second, as global economics lift more in countries like China and India to middle-class status, their buying power increases. As this does, more food and more technology will be needed. Marrying an expertise in agriculture with an affinity for technology will be necessary as demand for food rises with this new buying power.
While attending a recent field day at UC Davis, I met a Ph.D. candidate just finishing her studies in the genetics graduate group. She recently accepted a job offer in England to work with the Institute of Food Research on cereal grains quality and human health initiatives.
Her work at UC Davis under the guidance of Professor Jorge Dubcovsky and others focused on Durum wheat and pasta. She has a remarkable story and ideas regarding specific traits researchers could breed into wheat that could revolutionize human health aspects of the commodity.
To cite another recent example of why I have high expectations of agricultural graduates, I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Professor Scott Vernon’s Ag Communications class at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo about the practical aspects of Ag journalism and what we do at Western Farm Press.
Vernon works tirelessly to help students understand the practicalities of agricultural communications and likes to introduce his students to working professionals.
Part of Vernon’s purpose is to expose students to ideas and the opportunities available. Some of his students do not have Ag backgrounds, and yet Vernon uses practical examples of professionals who likewise do not have Ag backgrounds yet succeeded through diligence, hard work and a passion for the industry.
It seems wherever I travel and meet agricultural students I’m constantly impressed by their enthusiasm, work ethic and ideas. While much credit should be given to their teachers, mentors and families, it’s still worthy to recognize their own efforts.
The report further says to expect the strongest job markets for plant and food scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resource scientists and engineers, precision Ag specialists and farm animal veterinarians.
Particularly noteworthy for California and other regions with significant water needs will be the need going forward for hydrologists and other scientists with knowledge of agriculture as state and federal policymakers work through issues necessary to develop, build and sustain the crucial water resources necessary to produce the food supplies these growing economies will demand.