Agriculture: there’s a lot to it! There’s so much information and knowledge to be had about the industry that it’s quite impossible for anyone to grasp it, and you may even think that you don’t need to know much about agriculture to work in it. Sure…but at the risk of embarrassing yourself at a networking event or when discussing something about the industry with a coworker, there are some things that should just be common knowledge. AgCareers.com intern Danielle Tucker gathered up these 20 facts that you should know about agriculture if you plan to work in the industry. And if you already know them, enlighten your friends with this crash course in Ag 101!
1. Most corn in the field, known as field corn (or dent corn), is meant for livestock, ethanol production, and other manufactured goods. Sweet corn is the corn that you eat but makes up less than 1% of all the corn grown in the U.S. each year. (Source)
2. Pigs can get sunburned just like humans. (Source)
3. Free range means that chickens have (and this may be limited) access to outdoor spaces. Cage-free means they are not kept in cages but are not required to have outdoor access. (Source)
If you are interested in a career as a Career Consultant with a collegiate career services office, you may think you know it all, especially if you’ve worked closely with a career services professional. Michelle Foulke, Career Consultant for College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, College of Environment + Design, Odum School of Ecology and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia, shares her insights from working in career services for the past three years.
What made you want to pursue working in ag career services?
Throughout my time in undergraduate and graduate school, I completed internships in housing, career services and judicial services. What I found unique about career services was that you can see the progress a student makes through an appointment, while that was not always the case in my other roles. There is something to be said about a student seeking out your advice instead of being required to meet with you, student appointments are usually the highlight of my entire day.
You are a hardworking and special person who has made the decision to pursue a career path in agriculture to help feed the world and provide for the future generations to come: an ag student! However, this does come with certain side effects that you might have noticed along the way.
Here are 15 things ag students likely know to be true:
1. You most likely leave a trail of dirt behind everywhere you go.
You’re sitting in class and look down at a pile of dirt you just left from your boots, then casually look back up hoping no one pays attention to the floor and the mess you just left. Let’s face it, you leave a crumb trail of dirt and manure wherever you go.
2. You will often go to class hungover from foal/lamb/calf watch, not the bars.
While your friends are out late at the bars, parties, and other social gatherings, you are spending your time in a barn on foal/lamb/calve/etc. watch because of your degree requirements. You might slightly resemble a zombie the next day you walk into class.
Kyle Neher recently began his career as a mechanical engineer as Lab Activities Engineer for John Deere in Ottumwa, Iowa. Here, he tells a little bit about what his role is like and advice he has for aspiring mechanical engineers.
What made you want to become a mechanical engineer?
As I grew up I was always very good with math and science, and enjoyed problem-solving. This led me to trying to solve problems on the farm in unique ways, and eventually I learned about engineering and decided to get my degree in the engineering field.
What is a day in the life like for you?
My role as a Lab Activities engineer requires me to work with product development teams to design and run tests to collect data that will help determine if a part will hold up to its design life when being operated out in the field. These tests can be done in the plant or can take place in the field.
By Danielle Tucker, 2017 AgCareers.com Marketing Intern
You probably haven’t seen anyone out handpicking corn with a husking knife or a peg strapped to the palm of their hands. Why not? Because science, technology, engineering and mathematics have helped change agriculture. These fields are what are known as STEM careers.
Farmers cannot feed the world alone. If we solely rely on the diminishing number of farmers to meet the demand of food, there won’t be enough to go around. Pursuing a STEM degree will open a countless number of doors for you.
If you are wondering what kinds of opportunities there are, the designated STEM degree list has over 400 degree programs listed. If you were to glance over the list, you would find most of them relate to agriculture in more ways than you may realize. You can match these degrees to hundreds of job opportunities that exist within agriculture. Students pursuing degrees in STEM are carving new tools to find solutions to feeding the drastically rising demand for food.
Agriculture is one of the best pathways to choose for students because of the sheer amount of opportunity within the industry. Innovations in sustainable agriculture, precision technology, and plant/soil science are creating exciting new skilled trade roles each year.
Some of the roles that are in the most difficult to fill are within the skilled trade realm. There are simply not enough students entering these career pathways to fulfill the vacancy demand within agriculture. If you are in high school just considering your career path, or are mature, and open to retraining for a second career; consider training in a skilled trade. These roles can span every industry type within agriculture, and often include mechanics, welders, electricians, technicians, and specialists.
On April 27, I had the pleasure to virtually attend STEMConnector’s first #AGis Town Hall meeting live from Washington, D.C. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) are critical career areas we at AgCareers.com frequently advocate for, and as supporters of STEMConnector, we eagerly share in VP/Chief Strategy Officer Ted Wells’ opening remarks: “Agriculture is critical in order to sustainably feed the world.” And what better way to do this than to pursue careers in STEM?
Kevin O’Sullivan, Vice President of Global Equipment and Engineering Technologies at PepsiCo, opened the seminar by sharing, “There’s a stigma attached to food and agriculture; instead of thinking about seed and farms and tractors, we should be thinking about robots and drones and science and technology.” There will certainly always be a place for the top-of-mind elements of agriculture, but as the industry continues to progress, it’s plain to see that agriculture is steeped in technology and scientific advancement.
A day in the life of an ag HR professional may not vary at the surface from industry to industry. There will always be positions to fill, new hires to orient, performance management objectives on which to coach, training initiatives to meet, and another fire to put out. And of course, these things are to be expected in day-to-day HR and for most HR professionals, these challenges are what attracted them to the field. While to the outside world, the world of agriculture HR can look like any other industry, on the inside, things can look much different.
A few years ago, a young adult sought guidance on asking their employer for a raise. They were certain it was only the right thing to do as they had done well with the onboarding and initial training program. The young employee was feeling comfortable where they had been placed within the organization and had eagerly taken on responsibility. This person was advised that its very common for new employees to ask for a raise within the first 3 months of employment. If they were to move up in earrings they’d have to initiate it. Luckily, someone else advised it was a bad idea and if they wanted to move up they’d keep up the good work and not risk offending the employer. I completely agreed.
If someone has given you advice to ask for a raise before the time is right, please ignore them. While there is no absolute answer as to when is the right time to ask for a raise, start with this list to see if timing is in your favor.
Agriculture is such a great industry to consider joining! As consumer demand for agricultural products is growing both domestically and internationally, demand for a diversity of careers increases as well. And contrary to popular belief, many jobs in ag are very well-paid. To illustrate, below is a list of the five highest-paying jobs in agriculture.
A company’s foremost senior executives hold strategic management and prominent leadership roles within a startup or proven organization. As one might expect, they are the highest-paying jobs in agriculture. C-Suite roles include such titles as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), etc. To learn more about C-Suite Executive careers in agriculture, click on the following links to career profiles: