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Serving: IN
Bryan Overstreet
EXTENSION IN EVERY COUNTY: Extension educators in every Indiana county are linked to Purdue’s College of Agriculture. Bryan Overstreet, Jasper County Extension ag educator, is often a contributor in Indiana Prairie Farmer crop columns.

12 positives about Purdue College of Agriculture

The "state of the College of Agriculture" is quite healthy.

Agriculture is alive and well at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture. Karen Plaut’s speech at the 2020 Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry wasn’t billed as a “state of the college” address, but it served as a good update about why the college is flourishing.

“We’re looking toward the future, and digital agriculture will be a big part of it,” said Plaut, dean of the college. “We’re getting our students ready for digital agriculture.”

Here are 12 facts that highlight the state of Purdue’s College of Agriculture today. Plaut provided this information:

1. Soaring student enrollment. The current number of students in the College of Ag stands at 2,841 — the highest since the 1980s.

2. First-generation students. About one-third of undergraduate students in the college are first-generation students, meaning they are the first in their immediate family to attend college.

3. Study abroad. This number might surprise you. Plaut reported that 40% of all College of Ag students have some type of study abroad experience.

4. Digital ag training. Students can earn a certificate in digital agriculture. In addition, digital agriculture was recently approved as a minor study discipline.

5. High job placement rate. For the most recent year for which data is available, 97% of Purdue Ag graduates are either employed or pursuing further education.

6. Food safety initiative. This effort recently received a large federal grant to help teach food safety techniques globally.

7. Wabash Heartland Innovation Network. Purdue specialists in agriculture and other disciplines are heavily involved in this 10-county initiative to explore how digital agriculture can improve efficiency in agriculture and manufacturing in Indiana. Empowered by a Lilly grant, Tippecanoe County is one of the 10 counties at the heart of this project. The effort began in 2018 and will continue at least into 2023.

8. Extension educators in all 92 counties. The College of Ag also encompasses Extension and research, Plaut noted. There is currently one or more Extension educators in every county in the state.

9. Active 4-H program. Plaut reported that Indiana’s 4-H program, administered through Purdue Extension, reaches 121,000 young people across the state. She said it is the largest youth program within Indiana.

10. Top-rated programs. Both Purdue’s undergraduate and graduate programs in agricultural and biological engineering are currently rated No. 1 in the country by outside sources.

11. Premier facilities. A new agricultural and biological engineering building is slated for completion in 2020, with dedication early in 2021, Plaut said. Two animal sciences buildings were completed and opened within the past two years. Next on the agenda for the College of Ag is a look toward replacing the forestry building. Those students currently operate in a 100-year-old building.

12. Graduate students. Besides the growing undergraduate enrollment, there are 740 graduate students in the College of Agriculture, Plaut said. Working with top professors as mentors, graduate students not only continue their education but also contribute through teaching, research and Extension efforts.

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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