Follow your passion

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When my daughter was a college sophomore, she came home one day, and by her purposeful demeanor and determined step, it was evident she had something on her mind. We sat on the couch and while I waited, she turned to a single page in her notebook. On it, she’d written 15 to 20 professions.

She went through each one, weighing the pros and cons. When she’d reached the end of the list, I paused for a moment and then asked one question: “Which one do you think you’d feel passionate about doing every day?”

Without hesitation, she answered, “I’d love being a teacher, but…”

At that point, it was just a matter of encouraging her to go forward and put all her efforts toward reaching her goal. She never looked back, fully embracing the classes and experiences that would help her become a high school English, speech and drama teacher.

Two years ago, an article called, “The 20 Most Useless College Majors,” circulated the Internet, and unbelievably, agriculture was among those majors. Although the rankings were based on several factors, including the number of jobs available in any given field, those of us in agriculture were surprised and dismayed.

Agriculture is one of the most diverse professions in the country and includes a broad spectrum of careers. According to Mike Gaul, career services director for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, salaries for students in most agricultural fields increased by five percent in 2012-13.

What should students really measure when choosing a life-long career? Money? Power? Quality of life? Hopefully, they don’t simply look for a job that pays the most. Their future paths should be based on a combination of meaningful factors, and hopefully, they have mentors who will help guide their decisions.

If your sons or daughters are passionate about agriculture, I hope you’ll encourage them to pursue a career in this ever-changing field. As most of you know, it’s the satisfaction and reward of doing meaningful work you love that contributes to making life worthwhile.

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Iowa  |  September, 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Lovely article, JoAnn. I really think the 'Useless College Majors' told us more about the author's personal opinions than the reality of the job market. As a member of generation X, I'd like to add one more thought to your point. The odds of having a single life-long career these days are a lot smaller than they were a generation ago. I think we tend to ask kids to pick a major like they are locking in all their answers for life and I think that makes the decision harder than it needs to be. Agriculture is a meaningful, dependable field, with jobs to suit a number of different aptitudes. Perhaps more than that, the skills it requires - math, science, biology, mechanics, accounting, complex problem solving, patience, the ability to deal with the unexpected - will translate well into a lot of other fields if your passions or your circumstances change down the road. It's a strong foundation on which you could build many different lifestyles. Unlike the Russian language and literature degree I almost got...

Iowa  |  September, 23, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Great points, Tonia. Thanks for your comments!


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