Agriculture is a growing field—no pun intended. Over the next five years, college graduates with degrees related to food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environment can expect to see an average of 57,900 job openings annually, far more than the anticipated 35,400 graduates in those fields, the USDA reports.
In order to attract students to careers in agriculture, the Maryland Soybean Board tapped an old friend for help: Glycine Max.
Known casually as “Max” (his full name is based on the botanical name for soybeans), the character is the star of a booklet tracing his life as a young sprout and hailing his many contributions to the field of agriculture. The booklet, designed for third, fourth and fifth grade students, is provided free to Maryland classrooms. More than 300,000 students have “met” Max since his introduction.
Now Max is following those students who met him in middle school into the higher grades—6th, 7th and 8th—where he helps them consider various career choices through a new website: www.maxcareers.info
“Maryland agriculture needs bright young minds to pursue farm careers,” says William Layton, chairman of the Maryland Soybean Board and a farmer from Vienna, Md. “With less than two percent of Americans involved in farming, we have to work at attracting students back to agriculture and getting the education to prepare them to serve Maryland’s number one industry.”
In a quick survey process, Max offers several scenarios with six questions. Students choose one answer in each scenario. The answers lead to placement of the student in one of six personality types: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, entertaining or conventional. In the Realistic personality type, career choices involving hands-on activity emerge, such as farming and driving a truck. For an Investigative personality type, suggested career choices include soil scientist, ag researcher or seed developer.
From there, the students will learn about careers based on their interests. All told, 36 possible career areas, covering a broad spectrum of human activity, emerge from the program.
At the completion of the program, Max awards the students a certificate acknowledging their participation and urging them to continue to “follow your dream.”
The Max booklet entitled "Just the Beginning—The Life of a Young Sprout” is available from www.maxthesprout.com