My Journey: Life After High School
I consider myself to be lucky because after high school I knew what I wanted to do, major in Animal Science with a dairy emphasis at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. I had also been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and although I am a proud Badger fan, the campus and city seemed too big for a country girl like me.
Five years passed from when I graduated in 2005 to when I returned to UW-Platteville. This time, however, I no longer played the role of student. Today I work as a recruiter in the School of Agriculture.
Students can major in any of our six programs. They include the following:
- Agriculture Education
- Animal Science
- Environmental Horticulture
- Reclamation, Environment, and Conservation
- Soil and Crop Science
Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in any of these majors and quite commonly students will double major to be more versatile and expand their career opportunities.
Be an Aggie!
Life does exist after high school! So you are interested in studying agriculture but don’t know where to start? Check out the following websites and their agriculture programs. My best piece of advice, always visit the school with friends and/or family and meet with some of the professors if possible. Your first impression will guide you in often a tough decision of deciding which school is right for you.
And me being the proud ‘Sconnie I am, here are a few links to some schools with great agriculture programs. They include 2 year (associates degree) and 4 year (bachelor’s degree) programs.
- University of Wisconsin-Platteville
- University of Wisconsin-River Falls
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Southwest Technical College
- Blackhawk Technical College
But I Didn’t Grow Up on a Farm…
Interested in agriculture but didn’t grow up on a farm? No problem! These are some of the best students in the School of Agriculture because they have the hunger and desire to learn. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates there will be more job openings than graduates with degrees in food, renewable energy, and environmental specialties for the next several years. There is a national shortage of college graduates within agricultural sciences. With more than 300 careers in agriculture, employment opportunities are abundant for college students. Everyone depends on agriculture; it’s an industry that’s here to stay!
Agriculture is more than just working with animals or growing crops. Today’s careers in agriculture focus on the production, processing, marketing, distribution, financing, and development of commodities and resources including food, fuel, fiber, and natural resources. Students can participate in paid internships where they gain hands-on experience while working for usually a few months. Internships are great experiences because it gives you a glimpse at a possible career and if you like it.
Going Back to School… again!
Learning is a life long process. I decided I wanted to earn my master’s degree in agriculture, but had no idea in what specific discipline. Thanks to some advice from colleagues and friends, I stepped foot again back in the classroom but this time through an on-line classroom at Colorado State University in 2012.
My collegiate advisor once told me to pursue a degree in something different from my undergraduate degree, Animal Science. So, here I am today working on a degree in Agriculture Extension Education.
And although I am a distance student, I even lived in Colorado for five months because I was finally ready to venture from small town life and do something I had never done before.
While in Colorado I spent Easter with Temple Grandin and flew to California during spring break to stay with my family for a week.
While in Colorado one day I also randomly ran into Andrew McCarthy off of my favorite movie Weekend at Bernie’s. I had never met a celebrity before and easily became tongue-tied. It was the experience of a lifetime and although I missed my cows dearly (Colorado doesn’t have many dairy cows!) and family, I look back fondly on those memories and think “I actually did it!” It’s a very satisfying and rewarding feeling. It was the time of my life.
All of these events occurred from an initial spark within me- a desire to study agriculture. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Do I know exactly what I want to do with degree? No… But I do know it will open doors for me and as my mom once told me, “No one can ever take your education away from you.” Either way I know that I love cows too much to not work them on a daily basis and no matter what happens I am happiest when I still get to spend time with my cows in the barn.