College graduate seeks job in the industry, focuses on having experiences

CROOKSTON, Minn. -- Marilyn Lewis enjoyed college graduation. She's enjoying working on the family farm, too. As for her job search, well, it's on the back-burner for now.

Marilyn Lewis, recent graduate of University of Minnesota-Crookston, is seeking a job in the ag industry, but is looking for experience more than anything. Photo by Nick Nelson, Agweek.

CROOKSTON, Minn. - Marilyn Lewis enjoyed college graduation. She’s enjoying working on the family farm, too. As for her job search, well, it’s on the back-burner for now.

“I’m looking a little,” she says. “But nothing too big right now. I’m just happy being on the farm for the summer.”

Lewis and her job search were profiled in an April 11 article in Agweek. The magazine is checking back with her occasionally to see how the hunt is progressing.

Lewis, 22, graduated in May from the University of Minnesota Crookston with a major in animal science and a minor in agricultural business.

Graduation day brought mixed emotions. “It was exciting, scary, sad,” she says. “Good to be done after four years. Sad because Crookston was like a home to me and I knew so many good people. Definitely a happy day.”


The Bemidji, Minn., farm kid’s ultimate goal is to return to the family farm permanently. But she’s open to working as a herd manager at livestock operations in Minnesota or neighboring states.

“I’d like a hands-on job where I can be outside,” she says. “Dairy is more my preferred thing. But anything with livestock, with animals.”

Lewis is optimistic she could land an ag job if she devoted herself to the search.

“I think I could find if I sit down and really look statewide,” she says.

Big-picture outlook

By all accounts, job opportunities are bright for college ag grads, despite plunging crop prices and farm profitability. The many reasons for that include a wave of aging boomers nearing retirement, which creates opportunities for newcomers with ag skills.

One example: a 2015 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts “good employment opportunities” from 2015 to 2020 for college ag students with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environment. U.S. colleges will supply an annual average of 35,400 graduates with those skills, enough to fill only 61 percent of the expected 57,900 average annual openings, according to the ag department.

For the time being, Lewis is happy to be back on the family farm that her great-grandfather started and that her father operates today. She also an uncle who runs a nearby dairy farm.


Since graduation, Marilyn Lewis has been helping with calving on her father’s farm.

“Just a few stragglers left (to calve),” she says.

She’s also helping on her uncle’s dairy.

“It’s really been a good summer so far,” she says. “I’m not giving up (on the job search), though.”

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