Career Clusters: for the love of nature
In our Which Cluster is the One For You? post, we shared that the Career Clusters framework is one of many ways to learn more about the occupations that exist in the world. Knowing more about career clusters can help you narrow down not only which cluster is right for you, but more specifically which pathway(s) and occupation(s) might bring you the most fulfillment.
This week, we're going to take a look at the Natural Resources & Agriculture cluster. The careers in this slice of the occupational pie are all about engaging with nature — studying it, caring for it, commodifying it. And by "it" we mean anything from plants to animals, water to wind. The people working in this cluster put food on our tables, invent new forms of recycling, study weather patterns, and more. If anything in that realm sounds appealing, this cluster might be for you. Not so sure? Take the assessment we recommended in our first post to see if this cluster ranks near the top! Then come back to learn more through this post, where we'll cover:
what kinds of pathways and occupations are found in this career cluster
programs that can help you explore careers in the natural resources & agriculture industry while still in high school
courses that will help you to develop knowledge & skills that can prepare you for these types of careers
Pathways & Occupations
Those who work in the Natural Resources & Agriculture cluster tend to have a love for the outdoors, even if they happen to work indoors. Whether feeding the masses or a community, managing animal (or fish! or bug! or plant!) populations, or studying conservation, these folks have a hand in the natural world. If you're one of them, you might work on farms or ranches, in laboratories or veterinary offices, even forests or mines.
This career cluster is organized into seven career pathways, with a variety of occupations within each pathway.
Click the links below to see example careers in each pathway based on education level—
Animal Systems Includes occupations related to the raising and caring of animals and developing more efficient ways of producing and processing meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Workers study genetics, nutrition, reproduction, growth and care of domesticated farm animals. Includes workers who provide medical service to farm and non-farm animals.
Agribusiness Includes occupations involved in the coordination of all activities that contribute to the production, processing, marketing, distribution, financing, and development of agricultural commodities, plant and animal products, and other natural resources.
Environmental Service Systems Includes occupations involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues. Work includes hazardous-waste management, research, and quality control.
Food Products & Processing Includes occupations involved in bulk food production, the discovery of new food sources, the analysis of food content, and the development of ways to process, preserve, package or store food according to consumer needs, and. Includes those who monitor compliance with industry and government regulations.
Natural Resource Systems Includes occupations that develop, use, maintain, manage, and analyze natural resources. Includes catching and trapping various types of marine life. Work might relate to recreation, wildlife, conservation, mining, logging, or oil drilling.
Power, Structural & Technical Systems Workers apply knowledge of engineering, hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, power, structures, and controls to the field of agriculture. They design agricultural structures as well as machinery and equipment.
Plant Systems Includes occupations related to growing food, feed, and fiber crops, and the study of plants and their growth to help producers meet consumer demand while conserving natural resources and maintaining the environment. Work might include nutritional analysis or genetic engineering.
If you think you may be interested in a career working with nature, there are a few ways to start getting experience and exposure now to help explore the kind of work involved in this cluster. The following entities provide excellent opportunities to test out your enjoyment, interest, and skills —
4-H & FFA
These two organizations provide mentorship, guidance, education, and opportunities to high school students with an interest in nature and agriculture. The four H's in 4-H stand for "head, heart, hands and health" and as part of the 4-H pledge, members vow to use these four things for the betterment of "my club, my community, my country and my world." They offers experiential learning programs in nutrition, forestry, animal care and training, etc. Find out more about your local 4-H opportunities here.
FFA, Future Farmers of America, is an intracurricular student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. While the possibility of membership for charter school students will depend on your local chapter, their AgExplorer tool is an excellent platform for all to learn more about careers in this cluster.
OSU's Pre-College Programs
Oregon State University offers a variety of fun and engaging opportunities for high school students, especially those interested in STEM as it applies to the natural world. Take a look at their pre-college programs, and be sure to check out the Salmon Bowl and Pet Day in particular!
Virtual Job Shadow Username: BakerWebS16, Password: CareerPrep2020! All Baker students have access to this virtual platform, with videos and resources that give you a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of hundreds of occupations. To get started, click on the Careers menu at the top, then Career Central. From there, click on the Filter By: Cluster button, and select any of the clusters from today's post from the menu on the left-hand side.
Knowledge & Skills
There are many classes you can take at your local community college to help build foundational knowledge and skills that will prepare you for a career in Natural Resources & Agriculture. If you're a Baker Web Academy student who would like to take one or more courses through your community college, contact our Enrollment Specialist, Kimberly Linn.
Here are a few I strongly recommend—
Biology & Environmental Science
Having a career based on the natural world inevitably requires a scientific understanding of nature. Biology courses are a great place to start, beginning with classes like cell biology and ecology, and working your way to more specific ones like botany or marine biology. If your college also offers courses in sustainability and/or environmental science, dive into those topics, too!
Not all careers in this industry will require a firm grasp on chemistry, but many will. Think food scientists, pesticide developers, soil researchers...they're all working intimately with chemical interactions. Even veterinarians, ranchers, and farmers benefit from having a basic knowledge of chemistry. To dip your toes in the chemistry waters, stick with the 100-level sequence at your college; to take a deeper dive into the subject, go for the 200-level sequence.
Industry-Specific Courses If you know of a specific industry you want to gain knowledge in, chances are there's a course you can take to learn more in that area. For example, you might take classes in Fish & Wildlife, Forestry, or Geology. Talk with your advisor about the courses and programs available either at your local community college or online through another school.
Want some personalized guidance? Click here to schedule a meeting with your career & college counselor today. Allison Styffe works with BEC students in Central, Southern, and Eastern Oregon. Jennifer Tracewell works with all BWA students as well as BEC students in Portland, Salem, and Eugene.