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As part of a land-grant university, we have a three-pronged mission of instruction, research and outreach in the College of Agriculture. Much of what I write in these View From Ag Hill columns tends to focus on two of these areas, research and outreach, because that is where we address some of today’s most pressing agricultural issues. But the long-range solutions to these and many other challenges within our industry will come through instruction—recruiting and training the best and brightest students as tomorrow’s research, technology, production and agribusiness leaders.
Our next generation of leaders will face an agricultural landscape and a global population very different from the ones we have faced, and so they must be educated and prepared with a new level of skill. This forecast should influence not only the way we train students today, but also the way we recruit them. Our industry is teeming with career opportunities for the students we recruit, educate and graduate.
According to the USDA, every $1 billion in agricultural exports requires the employment of about 6,800 people. And our exports are growing. In fact, U.S. agricultural exports are expected to grow from $145 billion this year to more than $176 billion in 2022.
As you can see, the agricultural industry is creating more job and career opportunities, but the supply of graduates from colleges of agriculture is not keeping up with the industry demand. This must change moving forward, but it will change only if we broaden the scope of our recruitment efforts to attract student demographics that have traditionally not considered agriculture a desirable or profitable career option.
We are currently exploring ways to effectively advance our message among these important student audiences, and whatever methods we use must include you, the alumni and friends of our college. It isn’t enough to tell students of the broad range of career opportunities in agriculture. We must show them, and you can help us do that. Through you, we can expand students’ perceptions of the agricultural industry and demonstrate the far-reaching, impactful careers they can pursue.
I invite you to help us reach out to these bright, talented students. They would love to hear your story and to see the success you have achieved and the impact you have made. By doing this, you can make all the difference in their choice of career.
For information on how you can help, please contact our Office of Student Services at 334-844-4768 or firstname.lastname@example.org.