Helping Farms Thrive

Want to Feed the World? Here’s What You Can Study.

If there is one thing we have learned about the youth of today it is that they are purpose-driven. You thought we were going to say something about Snapchat, didn’t you?

The leaders of tomorrow are looking for work that fulfills them: offering continued learning, development, and a meaningful purpose. And, of course, they want to be able to Snap it to their friends.

We are probably showing our bias here, but we think that making sure every person on the planet has healthy food kind of fits the bill. But not everyone can just go out and be a farmer.

Fret not — if making a difference and feeding the world is your jam, there are plenty of things you can study now to benefit the world tomorrow. Of course, we need more plant biologists, agronomists, chemists, environmental scientists and others who you would typically association with growing crops and producing food. But there are some non-traditional areas that you might not have thought of.

Every two years, we host a week-long forum to unite young leaders from around the world. Learn more about the Youth Ag-Summit.

Here's a taste:

Computer Science

Jeans and boots aren’t required to feed the planet. Heck, play your cards right and you might even get away with keeping your pajamas on. The future of food production is going to be as much about satellites, sensors, and servers as it will be about seeds and the soil. From digital farming to reducing food waste, the technologies that computer scientists are developing can bring efficiency, automation and applied analytics to everyday farming. As students look to find non-traditional applications of their skills, keep in mind that math, coding, and data analytics are currently and will continue to be super important to the future of farming.

Robotics

One particular digital farming field is so darn cool we had to give it its own spotlight. Cue the robots! Just as in a lot of other industries, artificial intelligence could play a large role in modern farming. Young people entering into the robotics field of study (smarty-pantses) are focusing their efforts on increasing production, reducing costs and improving efficiencies. Basically, bringing innovative AI to farming means more precision and consistency. And also, let’s face it: It’s just really cool. Definitely something to phone home about.

Nutrition

Obsessed with eating healthy? The agriculture business needs nutritionists’ help to make the global food system all it can be. It is obviously critical to produce enough food for people to eat, but it is just as important to make sure that food is nutritious. Not only can nutritionists help inform people about the food they should be eating, but they can also help plant breeders develop the next generation of fruits and vegetables make sure those foods are abundant AND nutritious. Winner, winner chicken dinner, with a healthy side of vegetables.

Accounting

Accountants don’t get enough love — and they didn’t even balance the books so that we had a little extra cash for saying that. If you’re good with numbers and can code spreadsheets in your sleep, you are needed to help feed the planet. Your skills can ensure that farmers make enough money to provide for their families and continue to farm. You can help direct investment into research that will improve sustainability. In short, you can make a critical contribution to improving the world.

Sociology

Humans are the end customer in farming, so why not also have them be top of mind from the beginning? While farming technology sometimes nabs the headlines, a lot of the big picture discussion within agriculture directly (and indirectly) is about human society. Ultimately, it is humans that determine what foods become trends, how resources are allocated, and what farming methods can be used. Want to shape the future of farming? Start with understanding the human brain.

Journalism

With around two percent of the population involved in farming, fewer and fewer people are connected to agriculture. That makes it hard for people to understand the challenges farmers face and the decisions they make. It also leads to skepticism and distrust born from a lack of good information. Journalists fill this void by bringing to light important stories and issues in farming to millions of people. It has been said that “journalism is the first draft of history,” so telling the stories of food and farming are an excellent way at contributing to their future.
Indoors or out; as a team or on your own; writing, calculating, or digging — if you have a skill and an interest in making a difference, there’s most likely a spot for you in agriculture. Even better, you’ll be surrounded by some of the hardest working and dedicated people you can find. And that’s not a bad compromise for getting out of your pajamas.