You Know What Really Grinds My Gears? (Entry 2)

Last August I published a post with this title, and I think it’s about time to do it again.

Yahoo recently published an article entitled, “College Majors That Are Useless.” Protests came in the form of articles from media outlets ranging the likes of the Oklahoma Daily to the Huffington Post.

For me, of particular concern were the measures and indicators used re: important college majors to the agricultural industry.  Therefore, I’m going to reprint in full the American Society of Animal Science’s response released yesterday.

Oklahoma needs agricultural majors of all kinds.  And just so you know, Yahoo, your report really grinds my gears.



Official statement from the American Society of Animal Science Board of Directors. For immediate release – Jan. 20, 2012

Students in animal science programs learn skills that are vital in food production and animal and human health. Enrollment in animal science majors is increasing, and job opportunities for animal science majors continue to expand.

“I couldn’t disagree more with the recent comments in the media questioning the value of animal science degrees. Animal science departments across the country are nearly all experiencing not only growth but expanding placement rates of our graduates. Even during record global economic challenges, animal science majors have been in great demand,” said Dr. Margaret Benson, head of the animal science department at Washington State University and president of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS).

Animal science is the study of farm animals, companion animals and exotic species. Animal scientists work to improve animal health and food production. Many animal scientists also focus on food safety and improving sustainability. Discoveries in animal science also increase understanding of human health, genetics and medicine.

According to Dr. Greg Lardy, professor and department head in the department of animal science at North Dakota State University, “Interest in animal science careers and enrollment in our undergraduate majors continues to expand. In fact, our enrollment is up 28 percent this year.”

Dr. Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe, CEO of ASAS, said about 90 percent of university animal science departments have seen increased enrollment in recent years. ASAS has also seen record membership, with over 5,000 academic and industry professionals currently involved in the organization. International and student membership has also grown in the organization.

“Employment opportunities for our majors include a variety of career paths, not only in traditional careers such as livestock production, but also in unique opportunities such as equine assisted therapy programs,” said Lardy.

Animal science has stayed strong during the recession. Data from the 2009-2012 American Community Survey show good news for animal scientists going into agricultural production. In 2009-2012, unemployment rate for recent graduates with agriculture-related degrees was 7.0%, below the national average of 8.9%.

Graduates with animal science degrees who responded to a recent Purdue University survey said they used their majors to find careers in animal production, zoos and the pharmaceutical industry. A degree in animal science also opens doors for additional graduate and professional training in areas such as veterinary medicine, research and education.

“The fundamental goal of animal science is to facilitate the use of animals to meet human needs, whether we are discussing feeding the world or companionship,” said Wulster-Radcliffe.

About ASAS: The American Society of Animal Science fosters the discovery, sharing and application of scientific knowledge concerning the responsible use of animals to enhance human life and well-being. ASAS publishes the leading scientific publication in animal agriculture: The Journal of Animal Science. More information about ASAS can be found at


Dr. Margaret Benson

American Society of Animal Science President

Dr. Greg Lardy

North Dakota State University

Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe

American Society of Animal Science, CEO

Jacelyn Hemmelgarm

American Society of Animal Science, COO

Madeline McCurry-Schmidt

American Society of Animal Science



2 thoughts on “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears? (Entry 2)”

  1. I, too, read that article by Yahoo! and couldn’t believe my eyes! I would like to ask the author a few questions – 1) what do you eat for food and where did it come from? 2) what are you wearing for clothes, and where did the raw product come from to make those clothes? 3) Can the author of that Yahoo gibberish go out to any farm anywhere in the USA and adequately do the job of any farmer/rancher?

    An Ag-related degree may not bring in millions in income, but the rewards aren’t just in the fat bank account. Knowing the end result of your work is feeding or clothing someone is a reward in itself.

    After reading that article – I was left wondering – where are the typical entries for worthless degrees? Some examples that come to my mind are romance languages, basket-weaving, along with the usual art and music degrees. Though each of the aforementioned have their benefits and place in society, it is extremely hard to land decent-paying jobs in any of them. Farming & ranching on the other hand – is the backbone of all that we do, and supports our needs for the basic necessities of life.

    I am so glad you addressed that article – it had me grinding gears, too.

    1. Sara – I agree with you on all points. What “measures” success? Or viability? Grr…grinds my gears 😉

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