Ag-based fields are on the rise at the University of Minnesota

Enrollment at the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) has been on the uptick. The trend is promising for the future of agriculture, as more bright, young minds choose a career in the field.

Applications and overall enrollment in CFANS have increased steadily over the last three years. A major driver of that growth has come from external transfers, which have increased approximately 5 percent.

Students who choose CFANS over other science-based colleges are often doing so for its unique opportunities, according to Susan Thurston Hamerski, senior communications manager with CFANS.

Often, students who enroll in more widely known majors, like engineering or biological sciences, are stuck in lecture halls for years before they can apply what they have learned to real-world situations. CFANS offers its students those opportunities early on in their college career. The ability to get in the lab (or field) early has been a strong selling point to enrollees and transferees, said Thurston Hamerski.

Thurston Hamerski said one of the most effective methods to market the CFANS experience has been through its students. CFANS students have become advocates for the opportunities offered at the college and have spread the word with students enrolled at the University of Minnesota and beyond. That, combined with outreach efforts by CFANS staff, has led to more students discovering all the college has to offer.

“Students are finding out about the hands-on, applied science opportunities and are finding it very attractive,” she said. “Our students are working directly with some of the brightest minds in our world right away and seeing the research they are learning about in action.”

Departments within CFANS that have seen the largest growth include Animal Science, Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management, Food Systems and Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering. In all, CFANS had more than 2,000 students enrolled during the Fall 2017 semester.

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