Agronomy offers many options
By Grant Fausset
Agronomy is more than the study of soil and plant sciences. It's also the study of environmental science, meteorology and turf science.
Photo by Tom Campbell
Many turf science graduates are employed by golf courses, such as the Purdue Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, as well as many other athletic complexes.
"A degree in agronomy means you can go a lot of different directions," said George Van Scoyoc, professor of agronomy. Graduates can battle pollution, protect the environment, work for chemical companies and research how the environment can affect both plants and soil.
Turf science is the most popular major within agronomy. In turf science, students study how to grow and maintain quality turf for a variety of uses. Turf is natural grass used on football, soccer and baseball fields, according to the agronomy Web site. Turf science graduates are employed by golf courses, sod farms, lawn care companies and landscaping firms. They can work for universities and professional teams who need to maintain their athletic playing fields.
In addition to turf science, meteorology is another major in agronomy. Meteorology is the study of weather forecasting and weather patterns. Students in this major gain hands-on experience in how to predict and forecast the weather. Job opportunities in this major include working for radio and television stations predicting the weather and for government and private companies where weather prediction and weather patterns affect planning and marketing decisions.
Students majoring in natural resources and environmental science learn to reduce pollution or work on farm business issues like proper waste disposal for farm operations. Working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a career choice after college as well.
"We also have some students in our program at Purdue go on to law school so they can become more educated on how these issues work in our legal system," Van Scoyoc said.
Plant and soil sciences also are majors within agronomy. In these fields, you work with farmers to help them better protect their soil and analyze nutritional management programs, Van Scoyoc said. This makes one qualified to work for seed companies and chemical companies such as Dow.
"There are a lot of hands-on and practical applications that will be helpful when I graduate," said Ryan Barker, a sophomore in agronomy from Kendallville, Ind.
According to the Purdue agronomy Web site, job opportunities in the agronomy field are numerous and expanding rapidly. Graduates can make upwards of $25,000 when they start their career.