Have you ever wondered what kind of job you might be able to land with an agriculture degree? If you thought the only options were farming or ranching, think again. Agriculture careers involve science, technology, food and more – and there are more job positions open in the industry than qualified applicants to fill them.
“I’m not sure many people realize that ag can lead to so many different careers,” says Dalton Henry, a 2010 Kansas State University graduate with an agriculture communications degree. “I grew up on a family farm and still didn’t have a handle on the full scope of careers available until I was well into college. Even today, I discover jobs that I didn’t know existed. As we think about the changes agriculture will need to make to feed a growing population in the future, the need for quality people across the agriculture industry will only increase.”
After majoring in agricultural communications, Henry worked for the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers before becoming vice president of trade policy for the U.S. Wheat Associates. He now works as legislative director for Congressman Roger Marshall.
“It’s a really interesting job that touches a lot of different pieces of policy. Two of my major areas of policy responsibility are agriculture and trade,” Henry says. “My background and training in the College of Agriculture has been really beneficial. They provided me with a solid science background as well as communications skills I need every day. Communications, both written and oral, have been big parts of every job I’ve had.”
Hannah McCabe Tolbert is another K-State alumna whose agriculture training helped her land her dream job. She graduated in 2013 with an animal science degree.
“I love anything to do with cattle and people,” Tolbert says. “This passion was instilled in me at a young age since I grew up on an Angus and Hereford farm in southeast Kansas.”
After graduating, Tolbert moved to upstate New York to work for pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim in the dairy industry.
“I knew I wanted to be a pharmaceutical rep and recognized I would need to take whatever opportunity was available,” she says. “So this Midwest girl packed all her winter coats and learned firsthand what lake effect snow is. Since then, I’ve gotten married, relocated to Kentucky and am back in the beef industry, still working with Boehringer Ingelheim.”
Tolbert believes most people don’t realize how versatile an agriculture degree can be.
“Specific to my job, everyone knows about drug reps for human doctors, but never considered drug reps for veterinarians and ranchers,” Tolbert says. “My colleagues are awesome, and over time, the accounts I visit become friends. I enjoy developing relationships while playing a role in helping their operation become more efficient and profitable. Basically I get paid to visit friends and share new research with them all day.”
Another 2013 K-State graduate, Caleb Wurth, studied agriculture with a non-traditional background.
“I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, nowhere near a farm,” Wurth says. “My passion for agriculture came in the form of animals and the yearning to travel the world. I was a Discovery Channel junkie and worked in exotic pet stores and vet clinics from a young age.”
Wurth majored in feed science with a minor in agricultural economics, and now works for Archer Daniels Midland in Illinois as a manager in its International Container Group.
“I am responsible for packaged commodities such as peanuts, quinoa, chia, banana chips and lysine,” he says. “We manage the container positioning, rating and execution of our containerized commodity import and export programs.”
Because the agriculture industry is so diverse, Wurth says it requires a talent pool diverse in gender, thought, geography and ethnicity.
“The challenges ahead can’t be solved by a single way of thinking,” he says. “Agriculture is an extraordinary industry where farm girls from Kansas, city guys from Missouri and suburbanites from China and Ghana must sit across from one another with joint goals to progress the vitality of the global food system.”