May 20, 2024

Careers in Agriculture: Jobs beyond the farm

Robert Sneberger, owner of Aerial Farmer LLC, stands next to his Air Tractor 301. Before becoming an agricultural pilot, he worked as an engineer in Montana. Crop dusters fly specially equipped aircraft low over fields or forests to spray crops and trees with chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides designed to destroy pests or control weeds.

INDIANAPOLIS — From rolling lavender fields in the north to watermelon farms in the south, AgriNews has taken me on a journey with the most beautiful views.

I am blessed to have seen, up close and in person, the diversity of agriculture. Career opportunities here abound.

For this photo essay, I poured over hundreds of photos from the past 10 years and chose 10 of my favorites. They each showcase a different career opportunity in agriculture.

Rima Thapa, a Ph.D. candidate at Purdue University, holds molecular markers used to track genes in plants. As part of her research, Thapa determined the gene order for three disease-resistance genes on chromosome 3BS of wheat. Thapa’s research was funded by a grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Job opportunities for research and development in agriculture can be found at Purdue University, companies like Beck’s Hybrids and many other facilities.
Tom Turpin, now a retired entomology professor, holds a tarantula at Purdue University. Entomologists study and research insects and their behavior. This is especially important in the agriculture industry, where beneficial insects, pollinators and pests affect yields every year.
Ted McKinney (left) and Jonathan Snyder, research scientist at Elanco Animal Health, check out a bioreactor that is used to grow cells. The reactor is part of a lab in the Vaccines Innovation Center. Companies like Elanco offer a variety of jobs ranging from laboratory work to corporate communications.
Dorrel Harrison creates three-dimensional artwork of barns and homes from reclaimed wood. The Bicentennial Barns of Indiana project was conceived out of his interest in sharing his craft and the beauty of barns with others while, at the same time, recording these proud structures through his art. Harrison is an example of how artisans play a role in the ag industry.
It feels as though time is standing still at Wanamaker Feed and Seed, where bags of feed are stacked on hardwood floors and you can buy dog treats by the scoopful. The owner, Jim Trimble, knows many of his customers by name. Small-town hospitality has not been forgotten, even though the once rural town is now a densely populated suburb. Feed and seeds still dot the rural landscape across the state.
Dennis Hart pours a glass of wine at Two EE’s winery. His winemaking hobby sparked the family’s interest in opening a business. Indiana is home to more than 100 wineries. Careers in the industry include winemaking, grape growing, marketing and more.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of northeast Indiana, Lavender Lane is a family-owned farm that grows lavender used for aromatherapy, oils, gifts, decorations and more. There aren’t many lavender farms in Indiana, making it a unique experience for visitors.
Mark Brummett is a beekeeper in Whiteland, Indiana. Over the past decade, he’s faced challenges in keeping hives alive and thriving — ranging from mites to hive damage due to pesticides. Indiana honey production for 2022 totaled 567,000 pounds, up 9% from 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yields from Indiana’s 9,000 honey-producing colonies averaged 63 pounds in 2022, up 11 pounds from the previous year.
At the beginning of the 1900s, Indiana was the top state in the United States for maple production. Although no longer No. 1, Indiana farmers continue the tradition of harvesting syrup from trees. Maple syrup is considered to be a nontraditional forest product that offers a source of income for landowners while protecting native habitats for migratory birds and other fauna, according to the Indiana Maple Syrup Association.
Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor