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17 March 2008 - You can’t dream big enough!

Earlier this month I was in Washington, D.C. to participate in the early kick-off of the observance of National Agriculture Day. This is the 35th year that the salute to agriculture takes place on the first day of Spring, March 20th, during National Agriculture Week.

The highlight of my day in D.C. was the opportunity to rub shoulders with young people who already know what they want to do and how to get it done. FFA and 4-H members turned out in force to salute American agriculture and they carried that message to Capitol Hill as they visited with Senators and Congressmen from their home states.

As I listened to these young people discuss their future plans, I was reminded that we are coming to the end of another school year, with young people graduating from high school and college. During the year, I am often asked by parents and high school seniors a question that goes something like this...”I know there is not room for me to come back to the farm, but I’d like to use my farm background in a career, so what should I do and what should I study?”.

Well, I have about 300 answers for those questions and I don’t have the space to list them all here. But land-grant universities and corporate leaders in agri-business tell me there are at least 300 different career fields that can make good use of an agricultural background.

Let me share with you what I hear as I travel the country and talk to agricultural leaders who tell me their needs for future employment.

Plant breeders and geneticists - we are not graduating enough students in this field and companies are going off shore to hire degree graduates. Agricultural engineers - here is another case where farm equipment and automotive companies hire foreign graduates because there aren’t enough in this country. Large animal veterinarians - graduating vets today prefer small-animal practice in urban communities, leaving a void of veterinarians in the country to serve livestock producers. Other fields with high demand and short supply of U.S. college graduates include environmental law, international marketing and of course, food safety.

So, this is my message for young people wanting to pursue a career in the field of agriculture today...Never have I seen greater opportunity! And you can’t dream big enough!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.