Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ag Schools Filled With More Than Farm Kids

Students fill ag schools to learn high-tech food production
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 3:08 AM
By Josh Jarman

Tessa Bowman, 23, of New Albany, said she found food science more interesting than some sciences that deal mainly in theory because it's "something you can see, feel and touch."
Some Ohio State University students have long believed that the campus west of the Olentangy River is not for them.

There's a perception that the area "is all cowboy hats and big belt buckles," environmental-science major Kurtis Meyer said. "But that's changing."

The 23-year-old senior from Worthington is among a growing number of students rethinking their view of agricultural schools as they learn about the emphasis on science and the promise of good jobs after graduation.

Enrollment in agricultural schools across the country increased almost 22 percent from 2005 to 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, enrollment has risen more than 18 percent in the past five years.

Demand is so great that companies such as H.J. Heinz, Frito-Lay, Starbucks and even Jack Daniel's are hiring people with related degrees such as chemistry and then sending them through a one-year, online course that Culbertson runs at Ohio State. He said food-science graduates start out making about $50,000 a year for an undergrad degree and about $65,000 for a graduate degree. Read More

Even though we have the people like Michael Pollan who are pushing for agriculture to abandon the last 100 years of technological advancements, many of today’s students realize that the responsible thing to do is work towards solutions to feeding the world. The food industry needs people who will use the latest in technology and science to solve the old problem of hunger. That should be the goals of this country, not to recklessly advocate for food systems that reduce production.

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