Community Colleges see a spike in students pursuing agriculture degrees

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -According to National Student Clearinghouse Research, there has been a 41% increase in the number of students pursuing agriculture degrees but that might not be enough to keep positions filled.

A study conducted by Purdue University projects about 60,000 agriculture-related job openings every year but only 35,000 graduates are ready to fill those positions. Since the pandemic community colleges nationwide have seen a 41% growth in students pursuing ag degrees. Ozarks Technical Community College has also seen an increase in enrollment of agriculture students preparing for the industry.

“When it comes to jobs, there’s everything you could possibly think of from being an ag teacher all the way to the grocery stores, production and meat processing, even the medicine of animals,” said ag Student Bridget Burks. We’ve got to have a better understanding of all of it to be the best that we can for agriculture and our land.”

Agriculture is big business in Missouri contributing billions to our economy. While most people think agriculture is all about managing the family farm, the industry is actually a little broader.

“I’m wanting to go the ag business route,” said ag student Alicyn Hernandez. “There’s a lot of opportunities in ag business. I’m one of those people who gets bored with something and I want to move on. Ag business really opens the door to so many things on the farm off the farm.”

There are several positions that require workers to have a strong understanding of the technology and science that makes modern-day farming possible. Due to scientific and technological advancements, there are many high-paying positions for students interested in computer science, biology, chemistry, and business.

“The people that we are training today might not necessarily be going back to the family farm or creating their own farm, but they’re going into the support industry to be researchers and salesmen, marketing and all segments of agriculture,” said instructor Rob Flatness. “There are still so many jobs with pasture management, feed sales, the medications, all of that goes into supporting our livestock producers.”

Many of the jobs that will become available will require some form of a college degree. Experts believe the rising interest in ag science degrees is due to employees needing to have an understanding of the technology and science that comes with farming.

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