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College of Ag Graduates Find Promising Opportunities Outside Production Ag
March 24, 2008


The Prairie Star editor


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana and Wyoming, like the other agricultural states, have felt a growing need for agricultural labor force.


However, most college graduates are pursuing careers elsewhere in the agriculture industry, outside the scope of production agriculture.


 "At, we have definitely seen a bit of a shift in some of the jobs that college graduates are pursuing," said Erika Brandt, communications manager. "This has to do with the demand of jobs and new areas of focus within agribusiness, such as food safety, precision agriculture, landscape horticulture, animal health, specialty crops and many others."


 The largest area of employment opportunities for graduates is within business in jobs such as sales and finance as well as in the science and engineering fields, said Brandt.


 "No matter what the area of focus is within the overall industry, most companies need employees in sales, management, finance, human resources, IT, research, etc.," she said. "With all of the exciting things happening in the agriculture industry and the forecast of Baby Boomer retirement, college graduates have their pick of a number of great career opportunities."


 At the University of Wyoming, more than 90 percent of the College of Agriculture graduates have found positions in their area of choice at graduation, said Frank Galey, UW College of Agriculture Dean of Laramie, Wyo.


 "For a couple of majors, such as agroecology and range/watershed management, employers tell us they will take everyone we can graduate," he said. "I guess from a societal standpoint, the biggest challenge we may be facing is filling the pipeline up front."


 This involves getting younger students excited about careers in science, said Galey.


 "We need to get more junior high, middle school and high school students interested in science careers and get them to realize that our programs in agriculture and natural resources in general are great opportunities for young folks interested in science," he explained.


 At Montana State University, careers in agricultural business and environmental sciences are very popular, according to Dr. Bob Gough, Academic Programs associate dean, of Bozeman, Mont.


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