College majors that have been mistakenly deemed useless

While reading an article on Yahoo!, my Agvocay (support of agriculture) enthusiasm was recharged. One of the largest tasks Agvocates work to conquer is misunderstandings.  The article entitled “College Majors that are useless,”  by Terence Loose, included Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Science.  Normally, I would comment on the article or contact the author directly. In this instance those options were not provided. In today’s blog post I’d like to supplement the information in that article and share my thoughts about why an degree in Agriculture can be extremely worthwhile.

Did you know that Agriculture, Animal Science and Horticulture are essentially one of the same? 

Let us begin with the fact that I earned a B.S. in AgriBusiness from a University which classified  Animal Science and Horticulture as part of the Agriculture department. To obtain my degree I had to include studies in Horticulture and Animal Science. On various trips to other Universities I’ve observed the same. I only mention this to establish the first in a line of misunderstandings the article poses.

How have some of these statistics been established?

Next, we’ll evaluate a source of some the numbers, The Department of Labor. This is the same department which has proposed a law which would likely cause an increase in childhood obesity, increase sedentary lifestyles among the current and future generations; and diminish the words ‘work’ and ‘ethic’ to non-existence. The law in reference will limit my children from doing their chores and helping on the family dairy farm due to the inherent dangers of Agriculture. I’ll add that the many groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have noted a significant decrease in injuries and fatalities related to Agriculture during recent years. All of that aside, the point is that the proposed law would likely decrease job numbers which may be a portion the source for determining the ‘projected’ decrease in Agricultural Managers.

An Agriculture Manager is the Top of the Ice Berg.

Although a common title, it hardly encompasses the possibilities within Agriculture. Here are my own stats which include positions friends and family have and do hold with a degree in Agriculture.

  • Rural land appraising
  • Soils testing
  • Geneticist who holds a doctorate in Molecular and BioGenetics focusing on corn
  • Agriculture education
  • Horse training
  • Soybean research
  • Agronomy – plant health specialists
  • Landscaping – including designers
  • Tree specialists – including logging
  • Urban Educator teaching children in Chicago how to grow food for themselves
  • Crop insurance sales
  • Market broker
  • Realtor
  • Transporting grain and/or seed to major hubs
  • Milk tester
  • and my favorite which is where yours truly falls…AgriMarketing (not to be confused with brokering)

The above mentioned positions don’t even include family and friends who are actively participating in production agriculture (actually feeding the animals, milking the cows, bedding down, planting the corn, combining the beans, working the ground, vaccinating the pigs, sheering the sheep, delivering calves, etc…).

Lets also examine the article’s definition of Horticulture: “crops, plant diseases, agricultural businesses and economics, crop and fruit science.” That definition can be expanded to include friends and clients who are successful landscapers, landscape designers, tree specialists, conservation managers and florists who hold degrees in Horticulture.  None of these jobs are mentioned in the article.

What’s missing – Organic Food Sales and Whole Foods

Finally, a fast moving segment of Agriculture is the current organic food trend. With cheerleaders such as Whole Foods, I’m reluctant

Above many of the products, the farmer or rancher was listed as well as their location.

to say jobs will be reduced in this area. Recently, I visited my first Whole Foods store and I felt as though I was in another world. The number of shoppers easily resembled those who pay a visit to go ol’ Wally World. Looking at the sustainability of Whole Foods, their growth hasn’t slowed, the market shares are quite pricey and the market itself is no where even close to saturation levels. I enjoyed looking at their presentation of products. Above the dairy cases, the names of specific farmers were listed. In the meat market you can ‘get-to-know’ the farmer who is helping serve your supper. This connection is one of the key reasons Agriculture is growing. Despite a slow economy what I witnessed in the world of organic food production didn’t include signs that jobs will be decreasing.

I hope that this helps the author and others understand that Agriculture encompasses much more than someone who might be managing a farm. Part of my drive as a marketer and communicator includes educating others so that the true story of Agriculture can be carried on for all. By all

Whole foods uses a stretch of the store to explain the evolution of organics and Agriculture. Fantastic way to chat to people about food!

means, if Agriculture is your passion or even if you’re interested in taking a course here and there, go for it and don’t let a misunderstanding become a barrier.


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