"There's a better understanding that when we use the term agriculture, it's not all plows and cows," said Ian Maw, vice president for food, agriculture and natural resources at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in Washington, D.C.
Also, students see a clear path to a job after graduation. "At traditional agriculture powerhouses such as Penn State, where enrollment is up more than 40 percent since 2004, career preparation can include cutting-edge research in areas such as plant breeding or genomics," writes Krogstad. "Schools in more urban regions draw students interested in local foods and healthy eating. Farmland prices have tripled in the U.S. in the past decade, and corn prices have doubled since mid-2010, and the high-paying jobs that follow are catching students' attention in a down economy, Maw said.
Iowa State University, where the agriculture college this fall expects to surpass an enrollment record set 35 years ago, is straining to meet industry demand for its graduates, said Dean Wendy Wintersteen. Iowa State reports a 95 percent job-placement rate for graduates from its colleges of engineering and agriculture, and wages can start between $50,000 and $60,000, President Steven Leath said. (Read more)