Nearly 400 undergraduate students enrolled in agriculture at ISU can take advantage of the agriculture career fair coming up on September 25. (Photo by Carrie Muehling/WJBC)
By Carrie Muehling
NORMAL - There are more students walking the halls of the agriculture department buildings this year at Illinois State University.
The department has enrolled just shy of 400 undergraduate students for the 2012-2013 school year, which is more than a 10 percent bump over last year's numbers.
"I think this has been a good time to be in agriculture. As the economy has struggled, the ag markets have done pretty well," said Dr. Rob Rhykerd, ISU agriculture department chair. "Students who are coming to college and looking at what to do when they graduate, agriculture is coming up. This is a place where we've had nearly 100 percent employment of our graduates."
Ag department faculty have worked hard recruiting both high school graduating students and transfer students. They revamped the curriculum a few years ago to modernize what is offered, and upgrades to facilities on campus include state of the art teaching labs, the working farm at Lexington, and the horticulture center.
Rhykerd said although the department keeps growing, there is still more room in the program for good students.
"We haven't hit the ceiling in the department yet. The university as a whole likes to be somewhere around the 21,000 mark, so as long as we leave some room for the other departments on campus we'll be okay. As for now, we're still very interested in trying to recruit more good students - high school students and transfers alike," said Rhykerd.
A number of registered student organizations with an agriculture focus also exist on campus, which give students a variety of opportunities for professional development. This year's agriculture career fair is scheduled for September 15, when more than 40 companies will bring representatives to campus to talk to students about internship and full time employment.
Carrie Muehling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.