PULLMAN, Wash. – Misha Manuchehri slowly picks her way through plots of barley, wheat and peas. Every so often, the graduate student in crop science at Washington State University stoops to pluck an errant weed at a farm just off campus.
With a bachelor’s degree in organic agriculture already under her belt, Manuchehri plans to continue her studies and ultimately find work in sustainable agriculture.
Plenty of others are doing the same at dozens of universities that now offer courses, certificates or degree programs focused on organic and sustainable agriculture. Experts said those graduates shouldn’t have trouble finding jobs as the agriculture industry replaces aging farmers – the average age of a U.S. farmer is 57 – and farmers increasingly look to diversify their operations.
“We’re always looking at the university for our future ag workers,” said Roger Pepperl, spokesman for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers, the nation’s largest organic tree fruit producer.