Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication


Date of this Version

April 1992


Published in The Journal of Agricultural Education, volume 33 (1992), pages 39-47. Used by permission.
The Journal of Agricultural Education (JAE) is a publication of the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE). Its back issues are available online at


“Scientific and professional expertise in the food and agricultural sciences is a national resource critical to the continuing security of this Nation.” This renewable resource, however, is being depleted by an annual employment shortfall of ten percent. Approximately 4000 employment opportunities go unfilled because of too few new college graduates with expertise in agriculture, natural resources, veterinary medicine, and closely aligned fields (Coulter, 1986).

Students usually equate a career in agriculture with farming or ranching only, rather than with the science or business of agriculture which leads to a pervasively negative opinion of pursuing a career in agriculture (Orthel, Sorensen, Lierman and Riesenberg, 1989). In fact, Krueger and Riesenberg found that secondary students perceived an agricultural career to be boring, hard work with poor pay, and involving more muscle than brain. They Perceived an agricultural career as an outdoor job that involves more men than women (1991). In the same research a factor found to be related to student perception of agricultural careers was secondary education in agriculture. Students with some background in high school agriculture seemed to be more interested in pursuing an agricultural career than students without a background in agriculture. Fifty-six percent of the students who had participated in secondary agricultural education had considered a career in agriculture, while only 18.5 percent of the students who had not participated had considered such a career choice.