Preston Weber walks down the graduation aisle this spring with a goal in mind.
The 18-year-old is employed as a summer intern with B & M Consulting, a crop consulting company owned by Agronomists Bill and Missy Bauer.Weber started the internship part-time this past April and will go fulltime after he graduates June 3.
"I’m getting real job experience that will help me see if this is what I want to do after college," says Weber who attends the Branch Area Career Center in Coldwater, Mich. That experience includes taking soil samples, helping till and plant field test plots and creating management zone maps for some of the Bauers’ farmer customers. "I do pretty much anything they need me to do," Weber says.
Missy Bauer notes Weber has a can-do attitude toward work and a lot of hustle, two qualities she believes will serve him well in the years ahead.Weber, who did not grow up on a farm, starts college next fall at Saginaw Valley University.
"I’m doing a two-year program there and then I’ll finish up at Michigan State University," he says. His goal is to graduate with a degree in crops and soils science.
Thomas Holt, manager of biology for BASF Corporation, hopes to see more young people from non-farming backgrounds seek a career in crop sciences. He cites a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that says 46% of the 54,000-plus available agriculture-related jobs will go unfilled in 2011.
"It’s a trend we’re living with, and it has to change," Holt says. A large part of the solution is that the agriculture industry must attract more youth, like Weber, from urban settings, Holt believes.
For his part, Weber says his internship experience has already convinced him to pursue a career in agriculture. He offers this advice to other high school seniors who wonder what type of future the job market holds: "If there’s something you want to do, go for it. Don’t stop until you reach your goal."