Agriculture Grads in High Demand

Many Grads are Interested in Day-to-Day Farming

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

There is a big demand for college graduates with agricultural degrees, especially in plant and crop sciences. California Ag Today spoke with Shannon Douglass, first vice president of the California Farm Bureau Federation and a recruiter for CalAJobs, about the need for agriculture grads.

Shannon Douglass, First VP of California Farm Bureau Federation and recruiter for CalAgJobs

“I often encourage people to minor in crop science,” Douglas said.

If you are a business major, having some background in crop science is beneficial. As a farm manager, understanding the crops are going to be vital.

“I encouraged animal science majors to think about getting a minor in crop science to understand what we are feeding those animals that they are studying, because that is a huge piece of California agriculture,” Douglass said.

Everything from agronomy and soil science to irrigation and pest control management are vital. Many college graduates are interested in being involved in the day-to-day farming operation.

“I talked to a class at Chico State a couple of weeks ago, and there are a lot of young people that they really want to be in the farming,” Douglass said.

Many students do not want to be in sales, but a large majority would like to be the farmers themselves.

“I really encourage them that you can absolutely be a day-to-day farmer and not necessarily a farm owner,” she said.

Douglass is also a recruiter for CalAgJobs.

“It is a private company, and we work with internships as a grant-funded project. In fact, it is completely free for both the employer and the student to use,” she explained.

These internships are a tool in helping to get those that are in college to look at these ag careers, particularly in specialty crops and crop science overall. Internships can be a wonderful gateway into long-term careers.

“The second part of our website is a classified type job-posting service,” she said.

CalAgJobs uses social media and targeting along with a weekly email.

“Another part of our business is the recruitment services that we offer. We work with employers who need more help on some of these really tough to fill jobs,” Douglass said.

CalAgJobs does their best to help fill those employment opportunities to help others run their farms.

For more information on internships or job postings, visit

Youth in California Cattle

Youth in California Cattle

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Statistically, it appears millennials aren’t considering agriculture as a career path. The USDA’s “2007 Census of Agriculture: Farmers by Age,” reports the average age of cattle ranchers was 57.8 years old. Malorie Bankhead, director of communications for the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and a millennial herself, said, “Young people in the beef industry have a really unique opportunity to get involved in something called the Young Cattlemen’s Committee (YCC), the young affiliate of our California Cattlemen’s Association.

Young Cattlemen’s Committee (YCC)
Young Cattlemen’s Committee (YCC)

Bankhead explained, “There are four college chapters: Fresno State, Chico State, Cal Poly and UC Davis. We don’t discourage membership from high school students or even folks younger than that who are interested in getting involved. The membership is $25 per year, and with that, you’re afforded a wealth of opportunity to become involved. We have a fairly robust scholarship program available to YCC members where we interview up-and-coming leaders in the beef industry who are focusing academically and extracurricularly on the beef industry, with the career goal to reenter the beef industry.”

Bankhead said the Young Cattlemen on the Capitol event, set for April 5, “is another opportunity for young people in the industry—specifically YCC members—to come to the CCA office in Sacramento to to learn from our staff about the current hot topics in the beef industry affecting ranchers. We turn to discussions with those folks and each other and build your network in the beef industry. We also tour the Capitol, visit some legislators and network with them on issues impacting the beef industry.” Registration information is forthcoming on the CCA website under the YCC tab.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross talks with students at Chico State

Source: Excerpted from Heather Hacking, ChicoER News; posted by CDFA

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross spoke to students at the California State University, Chico Farm on Tuesday.

Ross was in Chico as guest speaker at the Chico Rotary Club and she toured the University Farm before meeting with students and local ag leaders.

“We need to reconnect farmers with consumers and create an ag-literate populace,” said Ross.

One student asked about a recent proposal by the governor to eliminate grant funding for FFA agriculture education.

Ross said students can send a powerful message; those in the FFA blue jackets can and should stand up at school board meetings and talk about the importance of investing in youth.

“What about conflicting messages that come from various sectors of agriculture?” asked Dave Daley, an instructor at Chico State.

Ross said there is room for many different segments of the food industry — organic and conventional and all the variations in between.

“Consumers want assurance that they have a choice,” said Ross. “Having many different markets also provides opportunities for producers.”

For students wondering which direction to go with after college, Ross encouraged young people to consider careers with CDFA and USDA.

“Many people are at retirement age,” Ross said. “A fresh workforce is welcome.”

"CDFA Secretary Karen Ross talks with students at CSU Chico" -ChicoER News
“CDFA Secretary Karen Ross talks with students at CSU Chico” -ChicoER News

For any ag producers, it’s important to be able to communicate and to clearly express themselves through writing, she added.

The stories of the farm cannot be told in 140 characters, the length of one Twitter entry, and the ability to communicate science to non-farmers will become increasingly important.

Ross also noted that farming has always included adaptation; as the world population increases and open land decreases, improvements to farming will continue.