New communications option brings more flexibility to agricultural education and leadership degree

A degree with the word education in its name would logically lead a graduate into a teaching career … right? However, the Agricultural Education degree in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources offers more than one career path. Within one degree, students can select options for teaching, and also for leadership and communications.  

In 2012, the degree added the leadership option, as it had become a popular field of study.

The college already had a well-known and highly respected degree in Science and Agricultural Journalism, but for reasons related to a downtrend in enrollment and campus budget constraints, that degree is being phased out. The last group of students with a degree in Science and Agricultural Journalism will graduate in May, 2020, according to program coordinator and associate teaching professor Sharon Wood-Turley.

While the program will no longer be available, many of its course offerings will remain for students interested in completing the leadership and communications option.

“Two skills that are most often lacking among most college graduates are working with people and translating knowledge,” said Adam Cletzer, assistant professor and director of Student Services in the Agricultural Education and Leadership Department. “With an education, communications, and leadership degree, students end up a versatile person who has the soft skills. Other majors might know finance and accounting, but not the human side.”

Elizabeth Wyss, MU graduate student, is working toward her master’s in Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership after recently completing her bachelor’s in Science and Agricultural Journalism. As part of her master’s program, Wyss is working to discover what Missouri agricultural communications professionals think students in an agricultural communications major need to learn during their undergraduate career.

Rebecca Mott, assistant extension professor in the Agricultural Education and Leadership Department, sees flexibility as an asset of the newly expanded degree program.

“This program is great in that it is easy to tailor it to a student’s interest,” Mott said.

This ability to create a program that meets the student’s interests also allows for expanded career paths.

“In doing so, its popular to see students enter sales, politics, non-formal education, entrepreneurial businesses, commodities, communications, human resources, and management positions,” Cletzer said.

Graduates of this degree program could land in almost any industry, and the pay is in line with similar majors.

“AEL is classified under the Division of Social Sciences and most graduates make an average of $42,000 per year out of college,” Cletzer said.

To learn more about this degree path students can visit the University of Missouri website