By Gary Joiner

More studies point to abundant opportunities in agriculture. The field is bright with job prospects.

For some students, it’s the field—the actual crop field—that motivates their career pursuits in agriculture.

At last week’s Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Conference in Grapevine, Alejandra Padilla described how her experience as a migrant worker with her Texas family influences her career path. It gives her greater focus on her education at Michigan State University. It sparks her interest in entrepreneurial businesses.

Most importantly, she says, she wants to make sure her parents’ struggle is rewarded. That their many years of hard work in the field was worth it.

Researchers say millennials such as Alejandra are looking for careers with purpose. One of the conference’s goals is to broaden the horizons of students, to show that agriculture offers opportunities well beyond traditional farm and ranch jobs. Past perceptions of agriculture work are no longer valid in today’s marketplace.

From nutrition to communication and engineering to teaching, opportunities are endless. A cow, sow and plow aren’t required. And you don’t have to wear cowboy boots or wear camouflage. You just have to be passionate. Like Alejandra and others who are actively pursuing agricultural careers.

Alejandra says the experience of field work helps and motivates her. It provides a foundation to build upon. And it gives her a valuable perspective.

Consumers benefit when young people with passion say “yes” to agriculture.

Gary Joiner