WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A good education is the first step
toward a career in the agricultural industry. The Animal Sciences Department at
Purdue University houses more than 600 undergraduates who want to learn, study
and research pressing issues.
With six different concentrations within the degree, there
are a variety of options for incoming students.
“We have pre-vet, biosciences, behavior/wellbeing, animal
agribusiness, animal production and animal products,” said Ashley York,
coordinator of student services. “Students pick one concentration that interests
Upon graduation, there are many paths available for students
to travel down — from careers in production agriculture to vet school.
Last year, 15 percent of undergraduates pursued graduate
school, and 20 percent continued their education in veterinary medicine.
“It’s a really good time to be in agriculture right now,”
said Paul Ebner, associate professor of animal sciences. “All types of
agriculture, from agronomy to animal sciences. We generally don’t have problems
“A very large percentage goes on to work in
agriculture-related field. If you look at the plans of study, we have animal
production and product plans of study. Those people that go into production are
very employable. They are very sought after graduation.”
Purdue ag students are sought after because of their ability
to gain real-world experience through classes, extracurricular activities,
student work, research and internships.
Ebner, an adviser for the Purdue Heifer International
Chapter, sees students passionate about extracurricular activities at each
“It was started by two animal sciences students, and it’s
grown to be a very active club,” said Ebner about the club. “They raise money
for Heifer International, but they also raise awareness of food insecurity
“This year, they are doing a lot of work with local hunger
issues and working with food agencies in the Lafayette community.”
There are more than 15 other animal science-related clubs,
including Block and Bridle, a livestock showing club, and Animal Sciences
The mentors are a group of upper classman who help make the
transition from high school to college easier for freshmen.
“If you talk to the students, a lot of them say when they
got here it felt really big,” Ebner said. “But we do a whole bunch of activities
to make it feel very small. Professors are very accessible. If you take a class
in animal sciences, it’s going to be taught by a professor.
“We are always around. We try to make it smaller so people
are comfortable, and they get the most out of their four years here.”
The philosophy of open communication allows students to make
connections and network with professors.
“Even after their four years, it is interesting to see the
connections that they have made through college,” York noted.
“Most of the classes are very applicable and help you be
familiar with what is happening in the real world,” Ebner said. “They can also
do undergraduate research. They can work at the farm. We really stress things
It’s important to have good grades, but employers also want
to see that students take away work-related experiences at college, Ebner said.
Employers want to know what concepts students have learned at internships and
“There are more research opportunities than the students
probably even know,” Ebner said. “It’s very easy to get involved in
undergraduate research. You find an area of research that’s interesting to you
and talk directly to the professor.”
“I’ve probably had 20 or 25 do projects in my lab, and some
of them have been authors on publications, which is a big deal for
undergraduates,” he said.
To learn more about the opportunities available at Purdue’s
animal sciences program, visit www.ag.purdue.edu/ansc.