High tech wizardry can draw the best and brightest to careers in the food chain of tomorrow. Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 is the challenge. Drawing the best minds throughout every link in the food chain is one solution. Agribusiness just needs to get the word out to the next generation.
I was recently guest speaker to a beginning ag class at a local community college. My only surprise was the students’ surprise at the many links in the “field-to-dinner plate” food chain they hadn’t realized before. Most could think of just four: Input suppliers for farmers, farmers themselves, food processors and food retailers (grocery stores and restaurants). Eyes popped open when I displayed the graphic below showing ten major links in the food chain. Eyes widened further when I told them each of these “links” had its own “sub-links”. They got it. Agriculture is exciting and the food chain has a dizzying and growing array of career opportunities for young people!
Reinforcing my message to the students, FFA New Horizons (www.ffa.org) carried a terrific article recently entitled: Predictions: The Top Five Ag Careers for 2020:
- Drone Technologists who “show farmers how to increase yields and reduce crop damage using sensors, robotics and images from the air.”
- Hydrologists, described as “protecting the environment and promoting sustainable agriculture while supplying the world with clean, safe water.”
- Agricultural Communicators skilled at “sharing the story of agriculture and engaging the public” to better understand and support modern ag tech.
- Food Scientists charged with “improving food products and creating new ones using scientific principles that help maintain a wholesome food supply.”
- Precision Ag Technologists who teach farmers how to “work better, not harder” by using new technologies to cut input requirements while boosting yields.
Next up in my investigation? The ag careers that pay best! Here are the “top ten” by average annual salary according to writer Michi Ancheta at www.careeraddict.com (where she describes duties and needed skills of each in more detail):
PROFESSION: AVG ANNUAL SALARY:
1) Agricultural Lawyer $116K
2) Agricultural Economist $105K
3) Biochemist $91K
4) Environmental Engineer $87K
5) Bioinformatics Scientist $80K
6) Agronomy Sales Manager $76K
7) Agricultural Engineer $74K
8) Food Scientist $72K
9) Animal Geneticist $69K
10) Agricultural Operations Manager $61K
I agree totally with Ms. Ancheta’s observation in researching these top paying ag professions: “For too long a time, agriculture has been unfairly pigeonholed as a backwards industry that doesn’t offer great career options for young people. Not true at all!”
Few careers offer more promise than the skills we’ll need to feed, clothe and fuel the world affordably, safely, sustainably – yet profitably for each link in the chain!
How about your link in the food chain? Are you concerned that the best and brightest of today’s students may be unaware of the exciting and rewarding opportunities in your arena? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore events, venues or forums that draw career-minded young people and grab their attention.
Below is a graphic I showed the ag class I spoke to. Let’s all help spread this message to encourage the next generation of ag professionals.
Dan Manternach, President
Perfect Fit Presentations, LLC
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