Training advocates for agriculture

Texas A&M has the largest Animal Science Department in the country and thirty years ago most of those students came off ranches or had some type of ag background. Many of the students today are quite different. Cliff Lamb is the head of Texas A&M’s Animal Science Department.

“In the past, most of the students that came in had a really good appreciation for the animal part of animal science, and we had to teach them the science portion. Now we have a lot of students that come in that know the science part of biology, animals, things like that, but they don’t really have an appreciation for the animal side. And so we’ve got a challenge on our hands taking folks that are students that don’t really have an ag background but have an interest in it and then giving them the expertise that they can go and work in the industry.”

Lamb says that many of the students come in thinking they will go to vet school.

“A very small portion of them will actually end up getting into veterinary school and our challenge then is to say you know being an animal scientist isn’t a second best. It’s just as good and there are so many other opportunities out there. The service part of the industry is huge and there are a lot of opportunities whether you’re working for a feed company, pharmaceutical industry, and then think about the technology side of how animal agriculture is put together now.”

Lamb feels that his department also has an obligation to train a lot of students that may not go back into agriculture.

“One of my biggest concerns is that fewer and fewer people in this country or in the world appreciate where there food comes from and so we might train a lot of students that come through our department that end up becoming doctors, lawyers, things like that, and they go back to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and they’re doctors and lawyers and politicians and if we’ve done a good enough job of teaching them about animal agriculture, they end up becoming advocates for agriculture.”