Career pathways: Exploring agriculture and natural resources careers

Discover the diversity of careers in the growing agriculture and natural resources industry.

Do you like to work outside? Are you a nature lover? Do you like to garden or do yard work? Do you enjoy caring for plants and animals? Are you interested in learning about physical sciences? Do you consider yourself an environmental steward? If you answered yes to some of these questions, then a career in agriculture or natural resources might be right for you.

Michigan’s agriculture industry is a major source of income and employment for the state’s economy. According to a 2012 Michigan State University Product Center report, The Economic Impact of Michigan's Food and Agriculture System, “the system accounts for an estimated $91.4 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic activity annually. This sector also accounts for an estimated 923,000 jobs.”

Many people do not realize how diverse the careers are within the agriculture and natural resources fields. There are over 250 challenging and rewarding occupations in this career pathway. Not only are there jobs in agribusiness, education and communication, there are also jobs in conservation, plant science, processing and packaging, and technical systems. These jobs offer a collective insight on the importance and necessity of agriculture and conserving our natural resources, no matter what the subject.

You may be thinking where would a degree in agriculture and natural resources ever take me? Well, the truth of the matter is that knowledge and expertise in agriculture is a very valuable commodity in this state and across the nation. According to Michigan Farm Bureau, “it is estimated there are 54,400 agriculture-related job openings annually for individuals with four-year and higher college degrees.”

Not sure where to start? Michigan State University Extension and Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources have many opportunities to explore this growing career area including 4-H clubs, Exploration Days, Great Lakes and Natural Resource Camp, Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council and AgExpo.

4-H clubs provide young people age 519 with informal hands-on experiential learning in a variety of project areas including livestock, horticulture, leadership and science.

4-H Exploration Days is a three day pre-college program held annually the third week of June on the campus of Michigan State University. Here students can choose from over 200 different sessions ranging from life on a dairy farm to landscape architecture design adventure.

Great Lakes and Natural Resource Camp is another pre-college summer program focusing on preserving our great lakes and environmental stewardship held annually in Presque Isle.

Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council gives youth a chance to explore solutions to environmental issues and provide a youth voice in state government public policy making.

AgExpo is held annually in July where over 200 exhibitors share products and services that help Michigan agricultural producers continue to succeed.

No matter what your interest is, there may be a job for you in this career pathway. Start today by discovering the diversity of careers in the growing agriculture and natural resources industry.

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