It all started with a conversation with reporter Catie Noyes.
“You know, I’d like to do a story on ag colleges in Ohio.”
“Don’t forget Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” I replied. “And how are you going to identify schools or programs that yield graduates that go into agriculture?”
The special supplement, Your Ag College Guide, is the result of that conversation. A story that kept getting bigger until we gave it its own section.
What we tried to do is show high school students that there are many paths to a career in agriculture — broad paths, narrow paths, winding paths, surprising paths. There is no cookie-cutter advice that fits every student. You’ll have to find your own way.
In the supplement, we share information that was provided by institutions that responded to our emailed survey. You can compare different universities’ enrollment or tuition at a glance. And on a special landing page online — www.farmanddairy.com/agcollegeguide — you can find the listing as well as an interactive map, and more words of wisdom for high school students.
(High school students, you will need to learn to check your emails and keep track of your information, because colleges will be corresponding with YOU, not your parents. Oh, hello, late tuition fee.)
Parents, students and teachers: We plan to keep updating this online landing page with more information about scholarships, college information and tips, so be sure to bookmark the page and check back often.
If you’d like a copy of our special supplement, please email the newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org. Teachers, 4-H or FFA advisers, if you’d like multiple copies for high school students, just ask!
In the special section, we also spotlight seven graduates who are working in a variety of ag careers, from an attorney specializing in ag law to someone who returned to the family farm. You can also read the larger feature about one of these young ag professionals, who actually started his own farm enterprise in high school.
We asked these graduates why they selected their particular university, and found their answers interesting, and think you will, too. We also asked these graduates to share some “what I would tell the 17-year-old me” advice. I think it should be required reading for everyone headed to post-high school education.
Regular readers may remember that I didn’t graduate from an ag college. My degree is from the (then) School of Journalism at Kent State University. Although I was raised on a small farm, I had no idea of the vast career opportunities available in agriculture. I mean, that’s just “farming,” right?
Chris Hogan changed his major four times, finally landing on history, with an eye toward law school. But it was a job he held during a gap year between college and law school, that solidified his interest in ag law. And Melanie Snider found her love of horses propelled her to a degree in recreational therapy, highlighted by a college program that emphasized equine therapy.
There are many facets to agriculture, and we need good people in the pipeline to keep it going: geneticists, lenders, agronomists, chemists, communicators, engineers, marketers and growers. We also need skilled tradesmen in fields like high-tech diesel technology, or water systems or bioenergy.
We need to encourage the brightest and best from our farms — and the brightest and best who weren’t raised on a farm — to consider careers in agriculture.
So, pull out that special section and put it aside. If you don’t have anyone in your immediate family in high school, share it with a friend, a church member, a neighbor, heck, even a complete stranger at the fair. Teachers, FFA or 4-H club advisers, we’ll be happy to send you extra copies.
We need them.