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Great time to be an ag student

Dylan Pratt is batting 0 for 1. But the game is just getting started, and he has plenty of swings ahead of him. "It was a little bit of a disappointment. There's still time (before graduation), though," Pratt says of his ongoing job search. Pratt...

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Dyan Pratt, a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota-Crookston, has been hired to help the university host the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture judging contest April 14 to 16 in Crookston. (John Brose, Special to Agweek.)

Dylan Pratt is batting 0 for 1. But the game is just getting started, and he has plenty of swings ahead of him.

"It was a little bit of a disappointment. There's still time (before graduation), though," Pratt says of his ongoing job search.

Pratt, a senior at the University of Minnesota Crookston, was profiled in the Oct. 14 Agweek cover article that looked at the robust job market for college agriculture students. The animal science major hopes to land a job involving beef cattle near his family farm in Clarissa, Minn., which would allow him to be active, at least in a small way, with the family operation.

So far, he's applied for one job: a breeding program specialist with a Minnesota-based company. The position would have fit his criteria perfectly.

"But I received a standard rejection letter," he says. "At the end, though, it included a line about me reapplying when I'm closer to graduation. So I'm guessing they needed somebody right away."

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Though initially discouraged by the turn-down, he soon regained his optimism about landing a position. The odds of him doing so appear good. Though crop prices have plunged, the demand for college ag students still exceeds their supply.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture study estimated that from 2010 to 2015, the agricultural, food and renewable natural resource sector will generate 54,400 annual openings for people with baccalaureate or higher degrees in food, renewable energy and environ- mental specialties.

The study also estimated that only 53,500 qualified graduates will be available each year to fill those 54,400 openings.

Soaring livestock prices further brighten the outlook for Pratt and other ag students who want to work with animals.

Pratt isn't taking anything for granted. Since the first Agweek story was published, he's polished his resume and improved his interviewing skills. He also completed a one-day training class to become certified in artificial insemination, which should make him attractive to potential employers.

His job search will include attending at least one job fair before graduation.

"Yeah, I was down a little about not getting that first job I wanted. But I still think things will work out," he says.

Agweek will continue to follow Pratt's job search and update his progress in 2015.

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