Some people get into agriculture because they have always had a green thumb – while others fall into the industry because of their talents in site management, soil science or even bookkeeping. But whether you raise cattle, farm cotton, cultivate grapes, landscape backyards, care for trees or develop seeds, the resources you need to improve your agricultural career outlook are right at your fingertips. Here, we will show you how to track down the news, education and networking opportunities you are looking for – and how to maximize the yield of each one you find.
Run some savvy searches
It is easier than you might think to dig up new websites that provide up-to-date news, educational resources and other handy tools for planting the seeds of a better agricultural career. Try Googling terms like (for example) "horticultural education," "forestry management classes" or "agronomy news" to find out what is happening in your area of agriculture – and to learn how others are staying abreast of the latest developments.
As wonderful as it is to enjoy the freedom and wide-open spaces of agricultural acreage, joining with others in your field of agriculture (no pun intended) can bring its own kinds of benefits. A wide range of professional associations and nonprofit organizations exist to serve agricultural workers, farm and vineyard owners, and even the practitioners of particular agricultural trades.
For example, the American Agricultural Economic Association (AAEA) provides benefits and career resources for those working in agricultural and related fields, as well as an active database of employment and internship opportunities. The Tree Care Industry Association, meanwhile, develops standards and education programs specifically for arboriculture firms – and the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) offers continuing education and certification for lawn care professionals and landscapers.
The upsides of membership in an association or organization donï¿½t stop with education, though. Although you will probably be expected to shell out regular dues if you want to join a trade group, youï¿½ll likely gain access to a network of experts in your field, tradeshows and other events showcasing the latest useful inventions and procedures, and – depending on the organization – perhaps even legal advocacy and more-affordable insurance.
As you browse through the agricultural associations and other organizations in your search results, take note of those whose membership dues seem reasonable in exchange for the benefits they can offer you. Even if you donï¿½t choose to join one right now – and in fact, taking some time to compare your options is probably a wise idea – you will save yourself time and energy in the long run by bookmarking the websites of organizations that most appeal to you.
Make some new friends
If youï¿½re more in the mood for an informal online social gathering, try running some searches on your favorite social networking sites – like Facebook and LinkedIn – with specialized terms like (just for example) "tree care," "softscaping" or "viticulture." Even if you do not turn up any groups that focus solely on your own form of agriculture, Facebook groups like "Organic Gardening," and LinkedIn groups like "Agriculture" and "Agri Jobs," share information and host discussions on broader agricultural topics.
Donï¿½t forget to take advantage of the advanced search features on social networking sites – these little drop-down menus can help you target group pages as opposed to personal ones, to find pages whose users share your particular corner of the agricultural industry, or to keep your search focused on your own part of the world. And if a group is members-only, do not let that stop you from clicking the "request to join" button – plenty of groups that arenï¿½t open to public view are still eager to gather new members.
As long as a group is filled with members, active comment threads and regularly updated news feeds, thereï¿½s no harm in subscribing or joining – at least for a while – and seeing if the posts and discussions turn out to be helpful to you. And if they arenï¿½t, you can always leave the group and move on to new digital turf.
Explore jobs – or find workers
Whether you are a backhoe operator, a cattle breeder or the owner of a property or company thatï¿½s in the market for new talent, job boards that cater to the agricultural industry can be great places to connect with people who will meet your career needs. Many job boards will also allow you to post your own job openings, too – which means they can help you connect with skilled employees at all levels of agricultural work.
AgCareers.com, for example, lists jobs for those working in all areas of agriculture, including management and administration. Other job boards, meanwhile, are more niche. HorticulturalJobs.com focuses on landscaping and nursery work – while ForFarmers Jobs specializes in the dairy, livestock and ranching industries. Sites like these are usually free to browse, so youï¿½ve got nothing to lose by just taking a peek through their listings.
As you can see, the online resources that will be most helpful for your career depend on where you fit into the agricultural world, both in terms of niche and of trade. Like everything that grows over time, a solid agricultural career takes care and cultivation in order to yield a good return – but with the help of experts in your field, peers who share your passion, and online tools like these, you will find that your options soon start to branch out on their own.
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) — Information and links to agricultural, biological, and environmental sources – as well as job postings.
American Agricultural Economic Association (AAEA) — A wide variety of career resources for those working in agricultural and related fields.
ForFarmers Jobs — Job listings for all levels of agricultural work, from farmhands to soil engineers.