Starting July 10, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) graduate students will hit the road to explore career opportunities available in the crop protection industry and the Cooperative Extension System.
This is the third year that students from the college’s plant pathology and entomology departments; the CAES plant protection and pest management master’s program; and the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics have organized the annual Crop Protection Career Tour, during which they visit agricultural firms and research centers around the U.S. The student-led, administration-backed initiative was created to provide CAES students with a path for interacting with industry research professionals at some of the largest and farthest-reaching agricultural companies in the nation.
“We have many world-class agricultural research professionals and top-tier farm and laboratory facilities, and we’re in a state that is becoming one of the most important centers of agricultural production in the country,” said Russell Ingram, the trip’s coordinator and a doctoral candidate in plant pathology at UGA. “Unfortunately, we’re geographically isolated from the headquarters and research stations of the vast majority of the research-driven agricultural companies in the United States.”
Because of this geographic isolation, it’s difficult for many students to meet industry professionals and build the professional networks they need to find jobs after graduation. Building those networks and learning more about industry leaders was the original goal of the tour, Ingram said.
“We want students to better understand how they can use the education that they acquire at UGA, but we also want to help them apply it through successful employment after they leave,” he said.
This year, the tour will begin with a focus on Extension careers. At the University of Kentucky, students will have the chance to hear from Paul Vincelli, Extension professor of plant pathology, about the career diversity and impact of Extension through a workshop titled “Science and Public Responsibility.”
Then the students will travel to the Indianapolis research station for Corteva Agriscience (the agriculture division of DowDuPont). There, students will spend two days with commercial professionals and research-and-development personnel to learn about the structure and function of the research pipeline as well as the many career paths available to recent graduates in the agricultural sciences.
“The primary goal of the trip is to increase student knowledge of the skills that are needed in the wide array of specific positions and career paths that are available,” Ingram said. “At the end of the day, the biggest hope of both myself and my partners at Corteva is to have our student attendees return to UGA with a better understanding of how to make themselves competitive candidates for high-paying, high-impact industry positions and ready to create a program of study and experiential learning to make that happen.”
The year’s tour has been made possible by external grants from Corteva Agriscience and the American Phytopathological Society’s Plant Pathology Experiential Award as well as internal funding from the entomology and plant pathology departments and the UGA Society of Aspiring Plant Pathologists. Thanks to funding from these external partners and UGA, this four-day road trip will be offered to attendees for a $50 registration fee, which includes all lodging, transportation, the workshop and most meals, making this experience accessible to all interested CAES graduate students.
If you would like to follow the students on their tour, which begins July 10, check out the Careers in Crop Protection Tour blog at bit.ly/cropprotectiontourblog or follow Ingram on Twitter: @Bluesberry111.