CHS Aspire, Accelerate, Advance! Scholarships

Two Inver Hills students receive $1,000 awards for spring semester 2018

Two students at Inver Hills Community College, Hunter Ropal and Abdirahman Abdullahi, received $1,000 CHS Aspire, Accelerate, Advance! Scholarships for Agriculture Careers for spring semester 2018. The scholarship is awarded to students pursuing careers in agriculture, food and natural resources. Other criteria include academic achievement, challenging life circumstances, leadership and volunteerism.

Kristin Digiulio, biology faculty and agricultural sciences coordinator at the college, noted that modern agriculture offers college graduates a huge range of rewarding career paths. She points to a recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report titled: “Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources,
and the Environment: United States, 2015–2020.”

“According to the USDA, job opportunities for food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environment graduates in STEM areas are expected to grow,” Kristin said. “The USDA report went on to say that the strongest job market will benefit plant scientists, food scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resources scientists and engineers, precision agriculture specialists and farm-animal veterinarians.”

More from the USDA report…

We expect to see a strong employment market for e-commerce managers and marketing agents, ecosystem managers, agriscience educators, crop advisors, and pest control specialists.

An average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, or the environment are expected to fill 61% of the expected 57,900 average annual openings. Most employers prefer to hire graduates with this expertise. However, because we anticipate more annual job openings than can be filled by these graduates, employers will need to look to other areas such as biology, business administration, engineering, education, communication, and consumer sciences to fill the remaining 39% of openings

College graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and the environment are essential to our ability to address the U.S. priorities of food security, sustainable energy, and environmental quality. Graduates in these professional specialties not only are expected to provide answers and leadership to meet these growing challenges in the United States, but they also must exert global leadership in providing sustainable food systems, adequate water resources, and renewable energy in a world of population growth and climate change.

Look to graduates of food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education programs if you are seeking to hire female graduates with STEM degrees. While other U.S. higher education programs have encountered challenges enrolling women in STEM specialties, women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education graduates.

USDA Employment Opportunities 2015–2020


Student spotlight: Hunter Ropal

Hunter Ropal, 21, of West St. Paul, Minnesota, is a sophomore earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) at Inver Hills. A 2015 graduate of Simley High School, Hunter is involved with the Inver Hills–Metro State Community Garden and Orchard on campus. He also enjoys working on microbiology projects in the college’s Biology Lab.

After graduating from Inver Hills, Hunter has plans to attend the University of Wisconsin–River Falls to study crop and soil microbiology. When asked why he is looking forward to a career in the agricultural sector, he said, “I grew up caring a lot about the environment. I developed a love of gardening and plants through my life as well as discovering microbiology. So I found that ag would be a very rewarding career for me.”

Three words that describe you as a college student:

Hunter added that receiving a $1,000 scholarship from CHS definitely makes a difference in paying for college. “I am truly grateful for the help to further my studies into this fascinating field from one of the industry leaders,” he said.

Careers in agriculture and forestry make up one of the largest industries and sources of long-term employment in the country, providing jobs for millions of Americans. These careers supply us with a multitude of food products and alternative energies, among many other important resources for sustaining our country and contribution to the world economy.

In addition, these careers—particularly those associated with forestry—conserve our natural resources and assure we have bountiful supplies of land to utilize in the future. Many of the careers in the Agriculture and Forestry industry are considered “green careers,” meaning that the careers are involved in preserving or protecting our environmental resources.

Agriculture & Forestry Careers,


Hunter Ropal | 11 Answers

  1. chs_15Favorite sport or physical activity: Gardening
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Iceland
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Working in the Biology Lab
  4. Favorite all-time TV show: Probably Mythbusters back in the day
  5. Favorite all-time movie: Saving Private Ryan
  6. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Have a happy life
  7. chs_14Most precious material possession: PC
  8. Dream occupation: Researching microbiology in a lab
  9. Person you would most like to meet: Tony Iommi
  10.  Skill you would most like to learn and master: Bacterial culturing
  11.  Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Putting profits above the well-being of the Earth and its inhabitants. ALL of them.

“Interest in agriculture careers ranks low in new Land O’Lakes survey”

Only 3 percent of college grads have thought about a career in agriculture.
By Tom Meersman • Star Tribune
March 17, 2016 — 9:12 p.m.

Excerpts from article:

An alarming lack of young people are planning to work in the agriculture industry, according to a new survey funded by Arden Hills-based Land O’Lakes Inc.

Only 3 percent of college graduates surveyed and 9 percent of millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) said they had thought about an ag career or would consider it.

“People still think you have to wear boots and overalls to work in ag,” said Lydia Botham, executive director of the Land O’Lakes Foundation, in a statement. Most don’t realize that modern agriculture has become a technologically advanced field with a wide spectrum of careers “from seed geneticists and soil conservationists to supply chain analysts and economists.”

The survey also showed that 54 percent of respondents believed that it was difficult or very difficult for recent college graduates to find jobs in agriculture, and 76 percent either did not think or weren’t sure that ag careers pay well.

In reality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that more than 20,000 agriculture jobs go unfilled each year.

Botham said the industry offers many career opportunities with good salaries and job security: positions that need to be filled as the world’s expanding population and growing middle classes ramp up their demand for food.

Read more…


More about CHS

Just as in 1929, CHS is a farmer-owned cooperative working to help America’s farmers be more successful. Today, because of our belief in shared success and farmer-first values, we’ve grown into a Fortune 100 company that over the past five years has returned nearly $2 billion in cash to our farmer and member cooperative owners. Together, we’re making a difference around the world with our depth of energy, grain and food solutions—not to mention our full range of business services and our commitment to stewardship.

Courtesy of CHS

To learn more about agricultural careers and CHS Aspire, Accelerate, Advance! Scholarships, contact:

Kristin Digiulio
Biology Faculty
Agricultural Sciences Coordinator


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