Farm-related jobs exceed graduates in the field

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Maryland Soybean Board debuts farm career website to attract students to careers in agriculture.

Glycine Max helps middle school students consider various agriculture career choices through a new website.

Glycine Max helps middle school students consider various agriculture career choices through a new website.

Maryland agriculture needs bright young minds to pursue farm careers.

Agriculture – no pun intended – is a growing field.

Over the next five years, college graduates with degrees related to food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environment can expect to see an average of 57,900 job openings annually – far more than the anticipated 35,400 graduates in those fields, the USDA reports.

In order to attract students to careers in agriculture, the Maryland Soybean Board tapped an old friend for help: Glycine Max.

Known casually as “Max” (his full name is based on the botanical name for soybeans), the character is the star of a booklet tracing his life as a young sprout and hailing the scores of uses to which he contributes throughout his life. The booklet, designed for third, fourth and fifth grade students, is provided free to Maryland classrooms. More than 300,000 students have “met” Max since his introduction.

Now Max is following those students who met him in middle school into the higher grades – sixth, seventh and eighth – where he helps them consider various career choices through a new website: http://www.maxcareers.info

“Maryland agriculture needs bright young minds to pursue farm careers,” says William Layton, chairman of the Maryland Soybean Board and a farmer from Vienna, Md. “With less than two percent of Americans involved in farming, we have to work at attracting students back to agriculture and getting the education to prepare them to serve Maryland’s number one industry.”

In a quick survey process, Max offers several scenarios with six questions. Students choose one answer in each scenario. The answers lead to placement of the student in one of six personality types – realistic, investigative, artistic, social, entertaining or conventional. In the Realistic personality type, career choices involving hands-on activity emerge, such as farming and driving a truck. For an Investigative personality type, suggested career choices include soil scientist, ag researcher or seed developer.

From there, the students will learn about careers based on their interests. All told, 36 possible career areas, covering a broad spectrum of human activity, emerge from the program.

At the completion of the program, Max awards the students a certificate acknowledging their participation and urging them to continue to “follow your dream.”

The Max booklet entitled "Just the Beginning--The Life of a Young Sprout” is available from http://www.maxthesprout.com

About Maryland Soybean Board: The Maryland Soybean Board administers soybean checkoff funds for soybean research, marketing and education programs in the state. One-half of the checkoff funds stay in Maryland for programs; the other half is sent to the United Soybean Board. To learn more about the Maryland Soybean Board, visit http://www.mdsoy.com.

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Sandra Davis
Maryland Soybean Board
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