As the need for agriculture workers increases nationwide, including in Kansas, Fort Hays State University’s agriculture department is adding three new degrees. Students at the college can follow the agronomy business, agricultural leadership and agricultural communication track.


Clyde Cranwell, Ph.D., chair of the department of agriculture, started kicking around the idea of offering these degrees two years ago.


"The idea was born from students returning from internships," Cranwell said. "We are excited to bring these new degree program options to the marketplace because they are based on what employers and students say they need in the fields, co-ops and offices."


The agricultural communication degree prepares students to understand and communicate specialized agricultural information through advertising, public relations, journalism, graphic design and telecommunications. The agricultural leadership degree educates students for leadership positions in local, state, regional and national agricultural organizations.


The college’s agriculture department hired three more professors within the past year. This increase in staff will accommodate the new programs. Currently, the department has 300 full time students, with others taking online classes.


"Agriculture is in our DNA," Cranwell said. "Agriculture has been a part of Fort Hays State University from its inception. We are (located) in one of the most agricultural regions in the world."


Because agriculture generates both jobs and revenue in Kansas, FHSU hopes to continue to grow their agriculture program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, agronomists make a median pay of $65,000. Future jobs in this area are growing 6% faster than average.


"My pie-in-the-sky wish is to implement an agricultural business MBA," Cranwell said. "Agriculture is the big economic engine in the state of Kansas."