Finding employment after college can be a stressful experience for students and their families.
For students with degrees in food, agriculture, natural resources or the environment, there will be plenty of opportunities in the coming years.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there will be a high demand for college graduates in the agriculture and food industries during the next five years. The USDA estimates there will be 57,900 job openings per year in those industries. However, only 35,400 graduates will join the workforce from American agricultural colleges per year.
To fill those agricultural roles, employers are looking to graduates with related majors. Finding graduates with a background in agriculture is more desirable, though.
“There is no more rewarding career than getting to help feed people, and that’s what I get to do every day,” said Miriam Martin, a 2015 University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources graduate. Martin is currently a herdsman for the Nolles Cattle Company, after serving as a Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador. “Being a part of CAFNR taught me how to network with industry stakeholders, as well as how to build strong relationships with my peers. I learned how to communicate with different audiences, which has proved valuable to my career. I work on a ranch in northern Nebraska where I use those skills every day.”
The USDA reported production agriculture positions make up only 15 percent of the open jobs, such as farming. The other 85 percent consists of jobs in education, business and management, and science and engineering. Nearly half of the jobs are in the business and management field.
“In order to feed a growing world population, we must produce graduates from a variety of disciplines and experiences who can work together to meet the challenges and be innovative,” said Bryan Garton, associate dean and director of academic programs at CAFNR.
The world of agriculture offers a wide range of job prospects. From an agricultural economist to a veterinarian to a public relations specialist – there are numerous ways to get involved in the industry.
“Graduates with experience and education in food, agriculture and natural resource disciplines are in high demand by our industry partners,” Garton said. “Graduates from these programs are more adept at transitioning into entry-level industry positions than graduates with limited to no experience.”
CAFNR strives to fully prepare college students for their jump into the workforce. Students learn from award-winning faculty and have the opportunity to make lasting connections, both personal and professional.
CAFNR graduates have plenty of success stories to tell. In fact, 93 percent of CAFNR students are employed in a field directly related to their degree program.
CAFNR prepares students for the workforce in numerous ways. Career and internship fairs open the door to different industries. Mock interviews and resume building give students an opportunity to refine their skills in a professional setting.
That education begins in the classroom, though.
“CAFNR helped prepare me for the future by having experienced professionals teaching me everything they knew,” Trey Barger said. “All my professors were distinguished and respected in their fields and would go above and beyond to help you succeed.”
Barger graduated with a degree in Agricultural Systems Management in 2015. He also earned a minor in Agricultural Economics.
Barger is currently employed by Ray Carroll Grain in Carrollton, Mo. Barger had an internship with CGB Enterprises, Inc. – a company that provides several services for grain farmers – before jumping into the workforce.
That’s another offering of CAFNR – professional connections to employers.
“CAFNR prepared me for the future with the great variety of courses that were available,” Matt Eisenbath said. “Most importantly, however, CAFNR provided real connections to people in the working world. For example, through CAFNR I became involved in the Dickinson and John Brown Scholars programs my sophomore and junior years. These programs gave me the opportunity to meet employers in my major and allowed me to establish relationships with these companies. My current career with Schnucks stemmed from a conversation I had with a vice president at our tour of a Schnucks store in Des Peres. It seemed like a small thing at the time, but they remembered me from that day, which allowed me to be hired for the management program I am currently in.”
Eisenbath graduated in 2014 with a degree in Science and Agricultural Journalism. He also has a minor in Agricultural Economics.
Preparation for those internships is a key offering for CAFNR as well. CAFNR wants students to be fully equipped for whatever opportunity comes their way.
“CAFNR did a great job of preparing me by helping me build industry contacts and establish a network of individuals that I can use daily,” said Lane Howard, a 2015 graduate. Howard is currently an agriculture teacher at Macon High School. “CAFNR also brings numerous jobs and internships in for the Career Fair. Career Services helped prepare me through professional workshops, such as career panels, internship fairs, mock interviews and resume building.”
Not only are there plenty of options in the classroom, there are several ways to get involved outside of the classroom.
“As a CAFNR student I felt like I was a part of a unique, inclusive community,” said Samantha Gibson, a current graduate student. “CAFNR is one big family, pushing students to strive and excel in their specific degree programs. With the endless clubs and organizations in CAFNR, it was also easy to find my place and get involved. Whether students are involved in an agriculture fraternity, sorority, serve as a CAFNR ambassador, or are on student council, there are so many unique opportunities for leadership.”
Students are also appreciative of how CAFNR has become an important part of their life. In the most recent CAFNR Success Survey, 94 percent of graduating seniors shared their plans for life after graduation.
“My favorite part about CAFNR was definitely the ‘everyone knows your name’ feel and attitude,” Eisenbath said. “I knew just about every professor in CAFNR and all seemed willing, at any time, to help when I needed it. The friendly nature of the college helped me to establish and maintain great professional connections with teachers, classmates and employers.”
At the end of the day, CAFNR not only prepares students for life after school – they prepare them for a career of helping people.
“Don’t be afraid to get involved in CAFNR organizations, to make friends outside your major, and to push yourself to explore new opportunities,” Martin said. “College is the time where you get to learn about yourself, what you’re passionate about, and what career path you want to follow. Take that responsibility seriously and figure out where you can make your mark in the world. Agriculture is an amazing industry that’s growing and changing every day, and that’s why I love being a part of it. No two days are ever the same in my job, and I love that. I know that I’m making a difference.”
Interested in visiting CAFNR?
Learn more about the degree programs and find resources for students and families at visitcafnr.missouri.edu. Interested students can also set up a customized campus visit through CAFNR by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.