Graduate-level academic contest helps land jobs

Author: Bonnie Coblentz

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Presentation (Photo by stock image)

A unique, annual competition at Mississippi State University is designed to match graduate students in applied production agriculture with industries seeking to hire new employees.

The third annual Future of Agriculture Graduate Student Competition will be Feb. 5 at the Bost Extension Center. Nearly 40 masters and doctoral degree students working in production agriculture will present the results of their research to a panel of farmers, consultants, industry personnel and academic professionals.

All participants will get real-life experience presenting their research in a professional setting. Although the competition is judged and awards are given at the end of the day, the biggest winners will be the students with job leads and the industry professionals with job candidates.

"Over the last several years, there has been a tremendous surge in job availability for students with backgrounds in applied production agriculture," said Don Cook, an MSU research entomologist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station who helps coordinate the competition. "Agricultural industry groups are continuously looking for young, talented individuals to employ, and the candidate pool for students with these particular skills is limited."

The competition gives representatives of major agricultural companies a chance to scout talented MSU students and develop relationships with them before graduation. Students get practice making 10-minute presentations to a diverse audience, and the event is multidisciplinary.

"There are few meetings where students in weed science, entomology, agronomy, plant pathology and other fields get to compete against each other," Cook said. "We believe this will help the students develop better relationships with each other and foster team-building skills."

The master's competition is organized into three groups of students, and the day will conclude with one doctoral event. An awards reception will follow the competition.

The MSU Extension Service, Experiment Station, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board are sponsoring the event.

Agriculture industry professionals and the public are invited to observe the research presentations. For more information, visit the Mississippi Crop Situation blog at

Date: 2015-02-03

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences