Plant science and 4-H:  Growing a career

Plant science projects in 4-H can provide youth a pathway to college and a career.

When youth get involved in the 4-H program, they also put themselves in position to explore their future. Youth can build and identify skills they are strong in by participating in the different project areas of 4-H. Project involvement can also allow them to learn about their interests. The different project areas in 4-H can lead a youth to their future career according to Michigan State University Extension. The learning, experiences and activities prepare youth for a major in college as part of their career preparation. For example, one project area that youth can participate in is Plant Science or Plants, Soils and Gardening through Michigan 4-H Youth Development. For this project area, youth learn about the many facets of plants, crops, soil and gardening. There are majors in college and career opportunities related to plant science.

At Michigan State University, one place to find majors relating to plant science is in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. First, the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences offers 2-year certificates in Agricultural Industries, Golf Turf Management and Sports and Commercial Turf Management. Students interested in a Bachelor’s degree (4-year degree) can major in Agronomic Sciences and Turfgrass Management and study different specializations within each major. After receiving a 4-year degree, there are opportunities for students to pursue a graduate degree (Master’s and Ph.D.) in Crop and Soil Sciences and Plant Pathology.

Other majors related to plant science are in the Department of Horticulture. Students can pursue a 2-year degree in Landscape and Nursery Management, Landscape and Lawn Management, and Applied Plant Science. Bachelor’s degrees  offered in the Department of Horticulture include the Horticultural Science Concentration, Landscape Design Construction and Management, and Sustainable and Organic Horticulture. Graduate opportunities are available for students after receiving a 4-year degree to pursue a Master’s degree and Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Horticulture and Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology.

Some careers in plant science consist of golf course management, agronomic technicians, agribusiness managers, crop advisors, research technicians, researchers, extension specialists, professors and plant diagnosticians. Other careers in plant science related to horticulture are production, public gardens, marketing, inspection, landscape and construction management, landscape design, communications, and pest management.

As youth are learning about plants, fruits and vegetables, or participating in gardening activities, remember there are opportunities for them to get involved in Michigan 4-H activities. Community service and educational opportunities through 4-H can lead to a major relating to plant science and a career.

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