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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

This week the Yahoo News’ homepage hit a nerve with me with its list of most worthless degrees. Yahoo!’s list of five useless degrees, in order: agriculture, fashion design, theater, animal science and horticulture. While I don’t believe for a minute that Yahoo is a real news outlet, I would have expected even them to get more of the facts right. Like Greg Henderson from Drovers said, call me a hick or county-bumkin, mock my clothes or my quaint manners such as “Yes, ma’am,” and “No, ma’am,” but don’t criticize my chosen profession. And don’t do it with your mouth full.

Why Yahoo! chose to list the broad category of agriculture separate from more specific degrees indicates to those better-informed that the list is mostly worthless, but the inclusion of the specific “animal science” is just flat wrong. Indeed, sources from a handful of Midwest ag schools told Drovers/CattleNetwork enrollment in animal science is up, and more than 90 percent of animal science graduates find jobs.

Maynard Hogberg, chair of the Iowa State University animal science department, said, “Enrollment in animal science at Iowa State has set new records for the past six years. Over 95 percent of our recent graduates have found jobs, and the average starting salary exceeded $38,000 per year.”

In an effort to learn how to improve the animal science curriculum at Iowa State and better serve students, a survey of graduates from 2004 to 2009 was conducted by professor Steve Lonergan. The study found “a diverse group of opportunities available for our graduates,” he says. Jobs listed by those graduates ranged from advertising and Education to Finance and Research.

My degree is in Dairy Science- a subset of Animal Science and I have worked as an association CEO, photographer, newspaper editor and publisher and now an Extension agent.

And there are many more jobs for those with degrees other than animal science. Just check out the postings on the Facebook page “I studied agriculture and I have a job.” Yahoo! didn’t make many ag friends with their story, but it sure seemed to rally the aggies around the industry that feeds America and the world.

Science degrees in agriculture mean young have a wide range of choices at graduation- hopefully some of them will even come back to the farm.

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