Agriculture degrees still worthwhile

Andy Jensen

I came to SDSU to get an education and pursue my love for agriculture. I came to SDSU because it’s the only school in South Dakota that offers majors like animal science, horticulture, agronomy, dairy science, or range science.

A recent article by Terence Loose, “College Majors That Are Useless,” which most everyone in agriculture has read, lists a few of these degrees as “useless.”

The opening paragraph of this so called “article” makes the statement about “degrees that you might want to avoid” and then lists the top 5:

1. Agriculture

2. Fashion Design

3. Theater

4. Animal Science

5. Horticulture

If you’re like me, you came to SDSU to do just the opposite: to pursue an agriculture degree.  According to Loose, he took data from the National Association of College and Employers 2012 Job Outlook study, which was a survey of 1,000 employers. I guess they forgot to ask anyone in the Midwest about the future of who will be supplying the food for their tables, grass for their golf courses or veterinary care for their pets.

While SDSU is known to many as a “MooU” or “Cowboy College,” I am proud to be getting a degree in general agriculture. I’ve learned more coming to school to get my “farming” degree that will benefit me more than I ever thought possible.

My degree won’t be useless and neither will yours. Without agriculture, where would we be? How would we eat? Without horticulture we wouldn’t have flowers for weddings or greens for our salads.  Animal science is equally important as it’s the base for veterinarians and a way for people to really understand livestock in all aspects of production.

People may ask, “Why are you going to school to farm?” Well, that is a great question I’ve struggled with many times while I’ve been at SDSU. Why do I need a degree to raise pigs? Farming and ranching have come a long way, since the beginning and what we gain in a classroom setting is the science behind what we do. We learn better management practices to take home to the farm. We have classes dedicated to specific topics such as livestock production, horticulture, agronomy, and dairy where students can learn more about the industry and how it can be applied to future jobs.

I have friends who didn’t grow up on farms or ranches who went to college to pursue ag-related degrees because it was something they were interested in. With agriculture degrees you can go anywhere from banking to extension, from farming to veterinary practices.

A world without agriculture would be a sad place. I know I couldn’t function without it. Agriculture is a way of life, not just a degree. We live it everyday from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat. So next time someone says what you’re going to school for is useless, stick up for what you believe in and tell them why you’re going to school for agriculture, horticulture, animal science, dairy science or whatever you’re passionate about