Futures in the farm industry
CROOKSTON -- In the next five years, there will be 54,400 job openings annually in agriculture in the United States. The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council is seeking ways to generate interest among students so there'll be enough...
CROOKSTON -- In the next five years, there will be 54,400 job openings annually in agriculture in the United States.
The Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council is seeking ways to generate interest among students so there'll be enough graduates to fill those jobs.
Representatives from the St. Paul-based MAELC, a 16-member legislative council founded in 1997, were in Crookston on Wednesday to hold a listening session. The Crookston event was one of eight held across Minnesota this month. The aim is to help design, develop and create the future direction of agriculture.
About 20 people attended the Crookston session. Total participation at the sessions, which also were held in Grand Rapids, Willmar, Mankato, Worthington, Rochester and St. Paul, was about 350, said Julie Tesch, MAELC executive director.
Information gleaned from the sessions will help the council determine ways to generate an interest in agriculture among the public and how to work with industry to prepare students for agricultural careers.
Recent research by Purdue University and the U.S. Agriculture Department's National Institute of Food and Agriculture suggests that between 2010 and 2015, the agricultural, food and renewable natural resource sectors of the U.S. economy will generate an estimated 54,400 annual openings for people with baccalaureates or more advanced degrees in the areas of food, energy and environmental specialties.
Although there likely will be more than enough graduates available to fill the openings in the next two years, there will be a shortfall of new graduates who are prepared in priority business and science specialties in the succeeding three years, the USDA study said.
How to do it
One way to get students interested in agriculture is to teach children about it in school, one of the groups at the Crookston listening session suggested. Students could be taught a cross-disciplinary curriculum that is written by agricultural stakeholders and taught on a certain day during the school year.
The curriculum would incorporate agricultural learning for kindergartens through grade 12 and be taught in all classes, including math, science, history and music, on a given day, the group suggested.
Getting commodity groups on board would provide educational support, and potentially, economic support for the project, the group said.
A common theme at listening sessions was for commodity groups generally to become more involved in promotion of agriculture and to increase their educational efforts, Tesch said. Another familiar theme was that agricultural businesses should work with schools and colleges to let people know that there are many careers available in agriculture, she said. Those careers aren't limited to farming, she noted.
"There's a plethora of careers."
Information from the eight listening sessions will be presented at a statewide summit Dec. 13. The summit's theme is "Connecting the Growth Opportunities in Agriculture."
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