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Agronomy and Crop Science


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What to Expect

You have an equal chance of finding agronomy and soil science students listening to lectures in a classroom or making crosses between different strains of wheat in a greenhouse. This program brings study and fieldwork together.

Sarah Haymaker took a master's degree at Oklahoma State University, but also recalls her undergraduate days. "I attended classes in the mornings. The afternoons were open for work at the agronomy farm, meeting with advisors and professors, and for work with the local agronomy club."

Stephen Baenziger studied for his master's degree at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. His schedule was quite varied. When he wasn't teaching, he was outside in fields taking notes on different wheat strains, or cleaning and packing seed.

"I have always wanted to feed people," he says. "And the recent genetic improvements in Nebraska wheat -- for an example of what plant breeders do -- have fed approximately 3.75 million Americans their annual wheat consumption. You can really make a difference in this field of research!"

Survival Tips

You might find it a little tougher at first if you didn't grow up on a farm. But Baenziger says you shouldn't let that stop you.

"I didn't come from a farm background, so it took a while to understand how the farmers have to approach their production efforts," he says. But all it takes is some extra effort.

How to Prepare

In high school, focus on science and math. "Any science courses, especially those relating to biology, are very helpful," says Haymaker. "High school chemistry and physics are also a plus. College-level algebra is also necessary."

Baenziger agrees. "Foreign languages help, as does an understanding of diverse cultures because agriculture is a global business," he says.

"This program is very flexible," says Haymaker. "Anyone with interest in a wide array of topics such as genetics, molecular biology, range, crop, or soil sciences, environmental science...or strictly farming has a place in an agronomy program."


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