Maybe the question should be, Why not Agriculture? Because the agricultural industry is so diverse, it presents opportunities for veterans at all levels. Whether the objective is to be your own boss or be part of something bigger than yourself, agriculture has it all. There are countless jobs in agriculture and agribusiness that are waiting for qualified individuals to fill them.
While it’s often challenging for veterans to find their career path after service, agriculture offers a wide range of opportunities. And beyond the perception that agriculture is antiquated, dirty and thankless work, careers in agriculture can take place in an office, a classroom, a manufacturing facility or even a laboratory. And the opportunities for truly rewarding jobs in traditional agriculture avenues such as crop farming and livestock production are there as well.
Agriculture gives veterans the opportunities to turn interests or hobbies into life-long careers and a meaningful way of life.
Military veterans returning to civilian life bring with them the skills to succeed in a career in agriculture. And the Ag industry is looking to returning veterans to be the next generation of visionaries to continue and grow agribusiness into the 21st century.
Veterans have many of the skills and attributes that Ag employers are looking for. Things like problem solving, ethics, critical thinking, integrity, leadership and teamwork are highly prized by employers.
Plus, when it comes to technology application, organizational & global systems, communications and innovation, veterans have the experience that will help excel in a variety of career opportunities in agriculture.
Agriculture represents the nation’s largest employer with more than 23 million jobs in Ag-related fields. The pathways to a career in agriculture are as diverse as the veterans returning to life after the military. For many veterans, their skillset is immediately applicable to a career in agriculture.
For others, additional schooling and training can help them achieve a successful and rewarding career in agriculture and agribusiness. Many occupational training programs are available as well, to help veterans transitioning to civilian careers.
Ag-related programs at technical colleges and traditional four-year institutions offer veterans the opportunity explore a variety of agriculture careers and gain additional skills. Plus, there are a multitude of Ag-related companies and agribusinesses that are in need of graduates with specific skills and expertise that can be obtained through educational programs, certifications and degrees.
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“In the military, I flew helicopters and that included desk work, study, outside work, being out in the environment; so everyday it was a variety of everything versus working in an office setting. And in agriculture and agribusiness it’s very similar. Each day is not the same. And I think with many veterans, when they look back on their military career, they may not have recognized, but it was certainly something they enjoyed. And they can get that from a career in agriculture.”
Community and Business Development, Region Nine;
Former Military Liaison for Congressman Tim Walz
“When you leave the military, and myself included, you’re getting out of something that has a lot of meaning behind it. I think that’s one of the biggest points. Veterans want to end up getting into something where their hard work pays off. Something that’s outdoors much of the time. Giving back to something larger. They want to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. With a value system that really aligns with their previous career in the military. And that’s agriculture.”
Civil Sass Hops and Farm, Chatfield, MN;
West Point Graduate, US Army Ranger
“I think the agriculture education opportunities can provide veterans with the technical skills, contacts, relationships and the language. For every business that’s out there, there is a lot language to learn. We can help people understand that and navigate that. And help with an understanding of the technology and what the issues are. Those are really some of the most important things that we can help folks maneuver through to help them make a smooth transition.”
Faculty, South Central College;
“We employ veterans at almost every level of business from sales to operations to management to administration; all the way from the CEO to entry-level positions. We took the time to learn what the military ranks mean and what the position titles are. So we are able to easily identify the skills from your military experience that are transferable to a position here.”
Chief Human Resources Officer, Crystal Valley Coop
“I think we need to do a better job of connecting veterans with Ag and explaining how important Ag is to this country as a whole. Once we leave the military the hardest thing we do is trying to find the same importance in our lives that we once had serving this country. We had the greatest job in the world, defending the greatest nation. So I think what we really need to do is tie the importance of what they’re doing every day, whether they’re working on a hog site or for a large farmer to the overall success of the country and feeding our people.”
Farmer, Motivational Speaker;
US Army, 101st Airborne Division;
“For veterans looking to get into agriculture, one of the best things they can do is go and talk to any of the instructors. They’re available and willing to help.”
Ag Production Student, South Central College;
Veteran Aviation Maintenance Specialty
“There are a couple of correlations between the military and agriculture. First is work ethic. Even if you’re not working on the farm, there’s an expectation from farmers and agribusinesses in general that veterans are driven, passionate and have a work ethic to be successful. The other aspect is that the Ag industry is in a flux state when it comes to adaptation of technology, as that becomes a bigger driver. It’s very similar to the state of the military as it moves to more strategic use of technology. So I see a bridge with the military’s new adaptation of technology and what’s going on in the farm sector right now.”
Product Manager AGCO;
South Central College, University of Minnesota;
US Marine Corp
“One of the biggest misconceptions veterans have about agriculture is that you have to be a farmer. There are a lot of things you can do. There are aspects to many agricultural jobs that are appealing to veterans including being able to see the results of your labor, the opportunity to work outdoors, the chance to be your own boss or set your own schedule, but still be part of a team, teamwork.”
Field Operations Specialist Indigo Ag;
South Central College, Southwest Minnesota State University;