2 The Dilemma
Based on a 2005 national study to evaluate the different factors affecting admission and matriculation of high school students in the United States into college programs related to agriculture sciences, 41% of the students had a misconception or image about agricultural sciences; 33% lacked knowledge about employment opportunities; 22% lacked knowledge about fields of study; 22% perceived little relevance or importance to their future career; 11% did not have fundamental knowledge in math and science; and 7% felt peer pressure and family were against agricultural sciences studies.
Misconception In Schools
A lack of secondary guidance counselor support for agricultural programs in high schools (Dyer, Breja, & Ball, 2003), translates into not encouraging high school students to consider agricultural programs in their local schools because of the outdated agricultural perception. Many individuals are not aware of the abundance of career opportunities and should be given the necessary information to make an informed decision.
Less Than 2%
Working in production agriculture can be laborious and intensive. In fact, less than 2% of the overall agricultural workforce is in production agriculture. That means, 98% of careers outside of farming and growing crops can be in agricultural law, ag business, medicine (vet or human), ag engineering, ag education, to name a few. Many rewarding and satisfying career paths can be obtained with a degree from an agricultural college in the United States.
The divide of old perceptions versus career opportunities in agriculture is often predicated by a lack of knowledge of what degrees in agricultural programs can provide in terms of employment and lifestyle. Many careers are directly related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. If students like any of the STEM disciplines, it is likely there is a career path for them through agriculture.