Agriculture offers field of opportunity for new grads

by Jason Brown (jbrown@comgroup.com) 331 views 

It’s a known fact for lifelong Arkansans that agriculture is the top industry in our state. The Natural State boasts more than 13 million acres of farmland, which is about 40% of all acreage in the state.

According to the Arkansas Agriculture Department’s figures, we rank in the top ten of agriculture producers in several categories like soybeans, broilers, turkey, catfish, cotton, grain sorghum and more. Arkansas also ranks at the top of U.S. rice producers. Whether it grows in the ground, on the ground or in the water, Arkansans know how to grow a quality crop.

The latest estimations show that Arkansas’ agriculture industry contributes more than $21 billion to the state’s economy annually. Because the state of Arkansas agriculture is a vast industry and holds such weight on the state’s economy, job opportunities in agriculture are abundant. The United States has more students in college than at any other point in its history. This means that there is a greater need for new graduates to secure job positions that complement their degrees.

The priority for economic developers, legislators and, yes, even parents is to keep these graduates at home after college. Keeping young professionals in Arkansas not only helps those interest groups fulfill their desires, but it can also give the Arkansas agriculture industry the professionals needed to maintain and grow across the state.

When most people think about working in agriculture, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the image of tractors and dirty boots. Contrary to popular belief, many career options in agriculture don’t require working on an actual farm.

As a professional communicator raised in St. Francis County, I grew up in the Arkansas Delta, the heart of row crop country in Arkansas. My grandfather, raised just up the road in Poinsett County, grew up on a farm, but the agriculture bug skipped a generation with my father. When I chose a career in communications, an ag career was seemingly as far away as it had ever been. I thought an ag career required work boots, dirty jeans and a tractor. I never considered the need for support from industries like marketing and communications.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working in the agriculture industry across the Mid-South, and I understand the need for qualified professionals in a variety of industries to keep ag growing. The opportunities in agriculture are available for recent graduates and young professionals looking to live and work in the state of Arkansas.

Arkansas’s agriculture industry has a need for future attorneys, bankers, scientists, even designers and writers. Students and parents should take a closer look at opportunities in agriculture when searching for positions after graduation. There are often more open positions in the agriculture industry than there are qualified applicants to fill them. This is because those who assume that agriculture is solely for farmers and producers or those who live outside the city limits often overlook this industry.

Arkansas agriculture provides recent graduates and young professionals with the opportunity to use their degree with the option to live in any environment that they choose – whether urban or rural.

College degree holders aren’t the only demographic with the skills necessary to contribute to the agriculture industry. Career opportunities are also available for those without a college education. Skilled labor, trade and sales positions are open and available for Arkansans looking to build a career in agriculture.

Whether you’re a student, young professional or someone seeking a new opportunity in your career, Arkansas’s top industry is ripe with opportunity for jobseekers to take advantage of. A good resource to find some of these job openings is AgCareer.com.

I highly recommend that you consider the opportunities in Arkansas’s agriculture industry. You might just find the job of your dreams.

Editor’s note: Jason Brown, APR, is the public relations director for Little Rock-based Communications Group, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations firm. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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