Ag students with no farm experience?
We’ve got them covered

By Steve Leer

Fewer than half of Purdue University College of Agriculture undergraduate students grew up on a farm. For students who want to fill that gap, the College of Agriculture’s Office of Academic Programs and Agricultural Research at Purdue have teamed up to offer internships at Purdue farms.

The Purdue Agricultural Centers Experience (PACE) matches students who have completed 12-100 credit hours of study with agriculture faculty. The 11-week internships are served at a PAC where the faculty member is conducting research.​​​

The first internships were completed this summer, says Tim Kerr, senior assistant director of the Office of Academic Programs.

“There is a misconception that our agriculture students are driving tractors to class. That’s not the case,” Kerr says. “And, honestly, this program was started because the majority of our students are coming from non-farm backgrounds.”

Eight Purdue Agricultural Centers located around the state provide diverse land and soil types for study and testing. These farms enable scientists to advance agricultural research in real-world conditions that eventually might benefit producers in each area.

Participating students received $4,500 in stipends and housing allowance for the summer. When the internships end, students write a short paper about what they learned and make a presentation at a poster session.

“We believe this program will help students who want jobs in the agricultural industry be better prepared when they graduate,” says Meredith Cobb, operations manager for Agricultural Research at Purdue. “That’s one of our goals.”