Trying to help your kids pick a college major they’ll actually use? A report from USDA and Purdue University says that students with science and marketing skills will be the most sought after by agricultural employers in 2005.

The report, “Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2000-2005,” also projects favorable employment odds for agricultural-career seekers. Allan Goecker, associate director of academic programs in the Purdue School of Agriculture and the principal author of the report, says annual job openings for U.S. food and agricultural sciences graduates are projected to be around 58,000. The number of graduates to fill those jobs will be slightly more than 57,000.

Specialties with the greatest demand will be food scientists and engineers, landscape horticulturists, plant geneticists and outdoor recreation specialists. Goecker says any graduate who has the skills to add value to raw materials produced by farmers and to market those products will have increased job opportunities.

On the other hand, those providing production services to farmers and ranchers will see less opportunity, according to the report. Goecker predicts that hiring also will be down in veterinary medicine general practices and for some government agencies. “It will not be business as usual,” he says.

For a copy of the report, contact Food and Agricultural Careers for Tomorrow, Purdue University, 1140 Agricultural Administration Building, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1140.