Science and agriculture go hand in hand. As farming becomes even more high tech, the need for the next generation of scientists and innovators is becoming increasingly evident. The University of Minnesota has started a new program to help inspire future scientists to consider the field of agriculture.
A new program at the University of Minnesota is working to expand the pipeline of students going to school in agriculture through 4-H. The program is called the 4-H science of agriculture challenge and is the first of its kind in the United States. The program encourages 4-H members to explore not only agriculture, but how agriculture relates to the environment, animals, technology, the economy and food production. Bev Durgan is the dean of extension at the University of Minnesota.

Durgan explains, "I think many people have heard about the opportunities for employment in agriculture and how colleges of agriculture are not graduating enough graduates to meet the demand in the agriculture world. I think it's also that people don't really realize that agriculture is really science-based. So this program is really to help our 4-Hers and others understand that if you want to go into science, agriculture is a great place.

Durgan says that less than 10 percent of ag students return to the farm, but still are very connected.

"At the University of Minnesota and at other institutions in the upper Midwest, over 80 percent of the graduates from the college of ag are able to find a job in their career choice within 6 months. So that is very high. There are some disciplines like agronomists and pest management, plant pathology, weed science, that are well over 90 percent placement, so those students that are interested in those ag careers, there are great opportunities," says Durgan.
The curriculum at ag colleges across the country has been changing over the years, as has 4-H and FFA. What at one time concentrated on how to produce more food, has grown into all areas of food production from marketing, to growing, to even the types of food we're producing from organic to non-GMO. Agriculture is changing and so is education. Some say that's a good thing for the future of agriculture.