As recent studies indicate agriculture is one of the best fields for college graduates, it is imperative for the industry to groom the next generation of leaders. All of us here at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) would like to highlight the efforts of a couple industry Research and Promotion Programs for encouraging young students to choose agricultural careers.
The Pork Checkoff and the US Pork Center of Excellence worked together to develop Swine Science Online (SSO) courses that teach students scientific principles and management skills to best prepare them for careers in the swine industry.
“In order to be successful at any job, you must possess the knowledge and expertise focused around that particular career,” said Program Director for the US Pork Center of Excellence Chelsey Branderhorst. “This is especially true in such fast-paced and changing environments like those in the pork industry.”
SSO’s vision is to ensure that the pork industry is led and managed by individuals who have a broad educational and production experience that has prepared them for leadership roles. The courses are delivered via distance education to universities across the country.
“This program gave real-life situations that I had to troubleshoot and could potentially encounter in everyday life on a farm,” said Brittany Lowery, a student at North Carolina State University majoring in animal science with a minor in feed mill science. “I really enjoyed the program and hate that it’s over.”
Dr. Trulie Campbell wants to make the world a better place, and she plans to do that through her plant-breeding research. For Campbell, a native of Valparaiso, Ind., plant breeding lets her tackle some of nature's most intriguing questions and gives her the chance to work with cutting-edge technology.
“Why do I want to do this?” asked Campbell. “I want to help people with food shortages in the world!” Campbell started her research at Purdue University through a United Soybean Board (USB) fellowship, and now, she is continuing to work on it as a soybean breeder at Dow AgroSciences. The USB Fellowship, which began in 2007, promotes graduate education in the area of plant sciences, emphasizing the development of improved soybean varieties, understanding soybean genetics and developing improved ways to grow and use soybeans.
Two students are selected each year to receive a $25,000 annual stipend for up to four years. This fellowship, which is sponsored by USB and awarded through the American Society of Agronomy, attracts high quality students whose careers will continue to improve soybeans.
“The purpose is to prime the next generation of soybean researchers to help farmers,” said USB Director of Supply Programs Rich Joost, who chairs the fellowship selection committee. Since its inception, 13 students have participated in the program and seven have graduated and are now in careers supporting the future of soybean research.
USDA is excited about the increasing interest in the agriculture industry. We are doing our part to meet this demand through our internship, scholarship, and programs like our beginning farmer and rancher program. Whether they choose to get their feet wet in a position in the department or at another place, we encourage all our young students to consider a position in the agriculture industry.