As students return to classrooms across the country, back-to-school is on our minds. A recent survey found that only 3 percent of recent college graduates are considering careers in ag. That’s why we feel it’s important to help talented students reach their potential and, hopefully, consider a career in food and agriculture at Land O’Lakes, Inc. Here are some ways we're making the future brighter for students in K-12 and beyond.
1. Our scholarships help students realize their potential and open the door to careers in ag. Since 2013, the Land O’Lakes Foundation has funded $550,000 in scholarships for ag programs at three leading universities: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Iowa State University and Purdue University. Past recipients of these scholarships have gone on to do further research in their areas of study. Others have landed careers within the dairy, ag and food industries—including Land O’Lakes.
2. Ag careers aren’t just in farming and our recruiters are working hard to get the word out. As we mentioned, only 3 percent of college grads and 9 percent of Millennials surveyed have or would consider a career in ag. That’s why each year, Land O’Lakes recruiters visit an average of 24 colleges and universities in 20 states to look for graduating students and interns to join our team.
3. Yes, we have an internship program. And it rocks. More than 270 interns joined us at our plant facilities, remote locations and headquarters in Arden Hills and Shoreview, Minnesota, this summer. Our member co-ops across the country welcomed more than 70 interns. The 12-week program provides real work experience and career opportunities; we hire about one-third of our interns for positions in finance, IT, crop protection, supply chain and many more.
4. We are helping build (literally) the future of ag education at Purdue University. Opening in fall 2017, the Land O’Lakes Center for Experiential Learning will provide space for research and teaching for meat and protein sciences. The adjoining Purina Pavilion will host events that focus on livestock care, handling and evaluation. Together, these facilities will help support the university’s Department of Animal Sciences and its focus on safe, efficient and sustainable food production. A $5 million gift over five years from the Land O’Lakes Foundation is helping fund construction of the new buildings.
5. Hands-on education is one of the best ways to learn about ag. Did you know 98 percent of Americans have no direct connection to where the food they eat comes from? That leaves just 2 percent with farm connections and a lot of misconceptions about how they grow our food. The Land O’Lakes Foundation has gifted $1 million over five years to the Wisconsin Agriculture Education Center to help reconnect people to their food. The gift will support the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Birthing Barn where visitors will be able to watch calves being born and learn about responsible farming practices.
6. We are providing students at the University of Minnesota a golden opportunity for excellence. Our 10-year, $25 million investment in the university began in 2015. Among the highlights: the Land O’Lakes Center for Excellence, a 60,000-square-foot facility that will house academic, nutritional and leadership development programs.
7. Education and technology will help feed the world’s growing population. We’re taking on global hunger and the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 through our Global Food Challenge – Emerging Leaders for Food Security™ program. Each year, 10 sophomores from a variety of educational backgrounds at partner universities are selected to be part of the program. During the school year, students work with a mentor to explore critical issues in food security and ag. The program ends with an 11-week summer internship to work with industry experts at Land O’Lakes.
8. Like many companies, we match our employees’ financial donations dollar-for-dollar through our Matching Gifts to Education program. The Land O’Lakes Foundation has matched 511 employee grant requests over the past five years. Through the match, the Foundation has turned $280,000 into $560,000 and supported a variety of elementary schools, after school clubs and activities and public broadcasting stations.
To all students of all ages: We are with you. May your studies, at some point, provide food for thought about food and agriculture. Best wishes for a successful school year.