Commentary: Yahoo, please don’t mess with the goat ropers
Ag folks are generally good-natured about being…well, aggies. And there are lots of us from ag schools across the country that have heard all the aggie jokes. Texas A&M students are proudly known as the Aggies. At Kansas State University the shops, bars and restaurants close to campus are in an area called Aggieville.
Why, even the football game between Kansas State and Iowa State is referred to as “Farmageddon!”
That’s right, poking fun at aggies is not just reserved for students attending those button-down universities on the coasts. Even us aggies enjoy a good aggie joke. When I was in college – “back in the day,” as they say now – those of us in the “boots-and-jeans crowd” were often, sometimes affectionately, called “goat ropers.” We may not have ever roped a goat, but most of us looked like the type of person you might recruit if you needed a goat roped.
A true aggie, however, – or goat roper, if you prefer – requires more than just looking the part. An aggie either has some tie to a farm or ranch, or they aspire to work in an agricultural related profession and they are attending a college that will help launch such a career path. And that’s where we draw the line. Call us aggies, mock our clothes or our quaint manners such as “Yes, ma’am,” and “No, ma’am,” but don’t criticize our chosen profession. And don’t do it with your mouth full.
That’s how most of us feel about the mostly-useless and inaccurate story that was posted on Yahoo News’ homepage yesterday: “College Majors That Are Useless.” Of the top five “useless” majors, three of them are from the ag college.
Yahoo’s list of five useless degrees, in order: agriculture, fashion design, theater, animal science and horticulture.
Indeed, so many aggies had a burr under their saddle blanket about Yahoo’s story that a Facebook page – “I studied agriculture and I have a job” – was up by midday.
Why Yahoo chose to list the broad category of agriculture separate from more specific degrees indicates to those better-informed that the list is mostly worthless, but the inclusion of the specific “animal science” is just flat wrong. Indeed, sources from a handful of Midwest ag schools told Drovers/CattleNetwork enrollment in animal science is up, and more than 90 percent of animal science graduates find jobs.
Maynard Hogberg, chair of the Iowa State University animal science department, said, “Enrollment in animal science at Iowa State has set new records for the past six years. Over 95 percent of our recent graduates have found jobs, and the average starting salary exceeded $38,000 per year.”
In an effort to learn how to improve the animal science curriculum at Iowa State and better serve students, a survey of graduates from 2004 to 2009 was conducted by professor Steve Lonergan. The study found “a diverse group of opportunities available for our graduates,” he says.
Jobs listed by those graduates include the following:
Companion Animal Management
Graduate School in Animal Sciences
Human Medicine Research
Livestock and Poultry Genetics
Livestock Production and Management
Meat, Egg or Dairy food processing
Sales of feed, equipment or pharmaceuticals
Sales of livestock genetics
And there are many more jobs for those with degrees other than animal science. Just check out the postings on the Facebook page “I studied agriculture and I have a job.” Yahoo didn’t make many ag friends with their story, but it sure seemed to rally the aggies around the industry that feeds America and the world.
Here’s a sampling of the Facebook posts:
From Sara Jane: “I haven’t even graduated yet with my degree in agriculture and I’ve already accepted a position with a major seed company. Take that, Yahoo!”
From Lacey: “I have a degree in Agricultural Systems and Environment and am currently the Assistant Winemaker for a family owned winery in CA.”
From Alissa: “I have Agriculture Business and Agriculture Economics bachelors degrees from South Dakota State University and worked in my chosen field of Agriculture Finance directly after receiving my degrees.”
From Amanda: “I have a degree from Michigan State University in Agriscience with concentrations in Education and Communications. While in school I had six internships, all in agriculture. Within three weeks of graduation, I had six - count 'em, SIX - job offers. I now work for an integrated marketing agency in Minneapolis, working on a multi-million dollar client in the agriculture industry. I'd say my degree was pretty darn useful.”
Yahoo, please don’t mess with the goat ropers!