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Job Market Ripe For Science, Marketing Students
When Brooke Boretski graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in food science, her future was knocking at the door.

Just one week after graduation, she had a job interview. The next week, she started her new job as a lab coordinator at Thermo Pac, a flexible food packaging firm.

"I had several opportunities," Boretski said. "It all was very fast."

Boretski, like most students graduating with science and marketing skills, found the job market ripe with positions for her picking.

Companies Seeking Science Students

Students with science and marketing skills will continue to be the most sought-after by employers in 2005. That's the finding of a report by the Office of Higher Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

"We're expecting slightly more job opportunities than there will be students to fill those jobs," said Allan Goecker, associate director of academic programs in the Purdue University School of Agriculture. He is the principal author of Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the Food and Agriculture Sciences, 2000-2005.

Georgia Students Wanted

At the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the nation's oldest agricultural college, the scene is no different.

"We have maintained a high level of activity from employers seeking to recruit our students," said David Knauft, associate dean for academic affairs. "We have far more opportunities than we have graduates to fill them."

Annual job openings for U.S. food and agricultural sciences graduates are projected to be around 58,000. The number of graduates will be about 57,000. Of the job openings, 32 percent will be in science, engineering and related specialties. Jobs in marketing, merchandising and sales will make up another 28 percent.

Food scientists, engineers, landscape horticulturists, plant geneticists and outdoor recreation specialists are expected to be in greatest demand.

Those who provide services to farmers and ranchers will find weaker offerings. Hiring will be down, too, in farm and forest production, veterinary medicine (general practices) and some government agencies.

UGA Looking For Science Students

While the job market in food and environmental technology continues to grow, CAES enrollment has declined yearly since a peak in 1995.

The college is moving to get the message to Georgia high school students that the future of the job market in farm-related science fields is booming.

"Although overall enrollment in the college dropped slightly this year, those departments with aggressive recruitment efforts have more students than before," Knauft said.

The most popular majors in the college are biological and agricultural engineering, animal science, environmental health and horticulture. "That makes us consistent with what the study says the job market is moving toward," he said.

The college is trying to show high school students there's more to an agricultural college than traditionally comes to mind, and there's a wealth of opportunities awaiting graduates, especially in urban areas.

"About 40 percent of our students come from the metro Athens and Atlanta areas," Knauft said. "The largest number come from Clarke County, followed by Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Oconee and Madison counties."

The attraction for many urban students is the environmental focus of some of the degrees. Others find the small-college atmosphere appealing.

"There is a combination of benefits in our college," Knauft said. "Students find a range of disciplines in which they can apply science to solve problems. They can do that kind of study in our small college atmosphere with a faculty that takes an active interest in the students' success."

(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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