While grocery shopping for a graduation party or neighborhood’s Memorial Day barbeque, most people are unlikely to think about our nation’s critical needs for a qualified agricultural workforce including farmers, ranchers, scientists, educators, and Extension professionals. However, with high demand and low supply of prepared graduates, we face acute shortages (see Report Summary, 2020-2025 – USDA 2020-2025 Employment Opportunities). 

Our nation depends on a creative, educated, and dedicated workforce to develop and produce our food and implement agricultural solutions. Building upon their years of education and training, today’s graduates will be tasked with tackling tomorrow’s agricultural and natural resources challenges. Fortunately, land-grant universities are preparing college students for productive, impactful careers through agricultural research, education, and Extension programs to serve our communities, nation, and world. 


Demand exceeds supply for qualified workers with STEM training for the agricultural industry. Leading agriculture-based corporations cannot find enough graduates with agricultural and scientific experience and expertise. To build the workforce of qualified agricultural scientists, land-grant universities’ researchers are collaborating to revitalize interest in agriculture as a career path; ensure that agriscience students have the required skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers; and support teachers so that they have the training and resources to effectively teach agriscience that incorporates STEM.

Source: Emphasizing STEM in High School Ag Education


Land-grant universities prepare students for tomorrow's job market by providing relevant education, training, and experiential learning opportunities as well as emphasizing hands-on learning. They also collaborate with industry partners, provide professional development opportunities and career services, and encourage entrepreneurship. By doing so, they help ensure that students are well-prepared to compete in the job market and succeed in their chosen careers. 

For example, APLU’s Academic Programs Section commissioned research on specific employability skills—the nontechnical skills used every day in the workforce to ensure the smooth operation of projects and offices. The research, which surveyed more than 11,000 employers, faculty, alumni, and students, provides data-driven insights on employers’ needs that university administrators and faculty could consider when updating academic programs. More information and source: Employability Skills in Agriculture & Natural Resources 


Cooperative Extension supports workforce development through programs that serve youth audiences, adult audiences, new populations, and vulnerable populations. 

For example, Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) are trusted sources of economic and community development data, decision tools, education, and guidance for our nation’s rural communities. Collectively, the Centers form a one-stop-shop connection to the nationwide network of land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System. Each center serves a U.S. region and taps its network to form innovative partnerships. The centers focus on strengthening rural economies, supporting a rural workforce, harnessing technological innovation, and promoting e-connectivity for rural America. 

The sheer scale of economic and work force development challenges requires scalable programs that can be used across diverse locales and cultures to kickstart new businesses; leverage emerging technologies; and retool the workforce to meet the needs of new industries. Cooperative Extension’s local offices foster space for entrepreneurship, small business development, and other economic and workforce development opportunities. Source: Advocacy Toolkit (


USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA has grant programs that support workforce development to help current and future workers meet the demands of highly skilled positions. Examples include:

AFRI Education and Workforce Development | National Institute of Food and Agriculture focuses on developing the next generation of research, education, and extension professionals in the food and agricultural sciences. The program educates professionals to lead agriculture into the future by solving current and future challenges facing our society.

Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program provides funding for colleges and universities to support students from diverse backgrounds through scholarships, mentorship, and experiential learning opportunities.

Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship (NNF) Grants Program is designated for graduate degree (masters and doctoral) programs and postgraduate training of the next generation of policy makers, researchers, and educators in the food and agricultural sciences.

Additional examples with multiple land-grant universities:

Developing a Diverse and Thriving Workforce
Key components to success among underserved and at-risk communities are access to quality education and career opportunities. Land-grant universities identify and address barriers to inclusion, which benefits individuals, communities, and economies. Source: Developing a Diverse and Thriving Workforce

Investing in community development
Advancing the growth of communities, multiple land-grant universities are providing vital programs to help with finding employment, opening a business, and offering essential services. Research and Cooperative Extension experts are making a difference in the communities they serve. Source: Investing in community development

Extension transforms traditional outreach to virtual learning programs
Working within COVID-19 restrictions, land-grant university Extension programs worked with agencies and community partners to conduct virtual meetings helping farmers and producers update their knowledge and earn the continuing education credits required to maintain their certifications. Source: Extension transforms traditional outreach




Did you know that the agricultural industry is facing a shortage of qualified workers with STEM training? #LandGrantUniversities are collaborating to revitalize interest in agriculture as a career path and build the workforce of qualified graduates: LINK TO RELEVANT PROGRAM OR

Today's graduates will be tasked with tackling tomorrow's agricultural and natural resources challenges. At [@SCHOOL], we're preparing our students for their future careers with hands-on learning experiences like undergraduate research, internships, and more: LINK TO RELEVANT PROGRAM OR

Workforce development can be a complex issue, but local, scalable programs make a big impact. That's why [@SCHOOL[ Cooperative Extension's [COUNTY] office(s) is/are fostering space for entrepreneurship, small business development, and other opportunities: LINK TO RELEVANT PROGRAM @Ext100Years 

Feel free to reach out to us with specific tweets that you would like @AgIsAmerica to retweet. Please email your request to Kim Scotto at or use #AgIsAmerica. 




Ag is America 




Sec. Vilsack (Secretary of Agriculture) 




USDA National Institute of Food & Ag 




Cooperative Extension 





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