Agriculture Degrees Are Far From Useless

Shannon Latham, vice president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, responds to a January 19 Yahoo! article published on the Internet. That article basically said an agriculture degree is useless.

Published on: Feb 15, 2012

On January 19, 2012 Yahoo! published an article by Terence Loose highlighting the top five most "useless" college majors. Topping his list as the #1 most useless degree was agriculture. 

In the weeks since this article surfaced on the Internet, agriculturists everywhere have united, speaking up to voice why a degree in agriculture is not one of the most useless majors, but one of the most useful degrees a college graduate can earn.  Among the companies speaking out is family-owned Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, an independent seed company based in Alexander, Iowa.

Shannon Latham, vice president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds and a graduate of Iowa State University where she earned degrees in Agriculture Journalism and Public Service Administration in Agriculture, attributes her agriculture degrees to many of her successes over the past 19 years. From lobbying on behalf of Iowa agribusinesses, to providing public relations services for agriculture leaders, and now, owning and operating an independent seed company, Shannon recognizes that her degrees provided her with the tools necessary to help make an impact within the agriculture community and beyond.

Ag degrees provide tools necessary to make a positive impact on the world today

"Agriculture in 2012 is certainly broader than it was in my grandparents' and my parents' day," says Latham. "It is even broader than it was in 1993 when I enrolled at Iowa State University. Modern agriculture today involves so much more ? from horticulture and microbiology to culinary sciences and global resource systems. These changes have opened numerous doors for today's graduates."

Rebekah Bowen is evidence of those opening doors. She is a graduate student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., having earned her A.S. in Agriculture Communications at Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College, and her B.S. at University of Georgia where she graduated Magna Cum Laud. She's currently pursuing a master's degree in Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communication with an emphasis in Communication and Social Media.

Rebekah says her studies in agriculture have provided her with learning experiences that are very diverse, and have created multiple career options as she nears graduation.

Career placement percentage for college grads with an ag degree is quite high

"While many of my friends, who will be graduating in May face an uncertain future in the job market, I find that I'm highly qualified to apply for a plethora of positions thanks to my agriculture education," says Rebekah. "My studies have provided me with a multitude of real world experience that I can add to my resume, including teaching college-level courses, developing leadership workshops for high school students, obtaining administrative experience with a university-related nonprofit and attending and learning from regional and national conventions."

Shannon's and Rebekah's opinion on the relevance of agriculture degrees are backed by statistics both in Iowa and throughout the country. Iowa State University's College of Agriculture reports the highest career placement percentages at the university, at 98.2%, says Mike Gaul, director of career services at ISU. And Dr. Phil Gardner recently wrote a publication titled, Recruiting Trends 2010-2011 stating that "No sector appears stronger than agriculture/food processing with an increase in hires of approximately 14%."

Shannon says the importance of the matter goes well beyond the numbers. 

"Agriculture is responsible for the clothes on everyone's backs, the food in their bellies and the fuel in their vehicle," says Latham. "Without agriculture, we'd all be hungry and naked." To read more about Latham Hi-Tech Seeds and their stance on the Yahoo! article visit their blog post on The Field Position, titled "Agriculture: One of the Most Useful College Majors," or follow them on Twitter at @LathamSeeds.