Career opportunities are abundant in agriculture today. According to the USDA, “During the next five years, U.S. college graduates will find good employment opportunities if they have expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, or the environment. Between 2015 and 2020, we expect to see 57,900 average annual openings for graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees in those areas.”
New USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue seems to grasp the notion that the future of agriculture will rely on these new up-and-comers, so it only makes sense to support them and provide resources to the next generation of food scientists, ag engineers, entrepreneurs, business managers, educators and communicators.
Last week, Secretary Perdue met with state FFA officers to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the USDA and the National FFA organization.
In a USDA press release, which was published in one of our sister publications, Delta Farm Press,Secretary Perdue said, “Under the newly signed MOU, USDA and National FFA will collaborate on both short- and long-term initiatives to motivate and prepare young people, connect them with opportunities in agriculture, food, and natural resources systems, and build appreciation for the reach and importance of agriculture.”
Mark Poeschl, National FFA Organization CEO, said in the release, “At National FFA, we are preparing our students to be tomorrow’s leaders in agriculture. Through this MOU, USDA helps us continue our vision of growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. We look forward to our partnership and the ability to share our ideas with USDA.”
According to the MOU, which was signed by both parties on July 26, “The purpose of this MOU is to establish a general framework for cooperation between USDA and FFA — who propose to work together toward the common goals of advancing the public interest through developing a highly prepared workforce for unique careers within the industry of agriculture and who propose to seek mutually beneficial opportunities for USDA, FFA members, and agricultural education students nationwide.”
In the agreement, USDA promises to support school-based agricultural education, to build awareness of the importance of agriculture and to identify opportunities for collaboration between USDA and FFA.
This is promising news for high school and college students. As a former FFA member and a previous USDA intern, I can attest that there are endless opportunities for young people in the youth organization, as well as this particular government entity.
In recent years, it seems like agricultural education has been put on the back burner, with more emphasis placed on different areas of study in high schools across the country. However, with support from the nation’s capital, we can hopefully expect to see a resurgence of students benefiting from classes focusing on agriculture, food and natural resources.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.