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Purdue Professor Jackie Boerman Urges Students to Seek Career Paths in the Dairy Industry

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Dr. Jackie Boerman, Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University. Photo courtesy of Purdue University.

Click BELOW to hear the “The Dairy Download Podcast presented by American Dairy Association Indiana” featuring Dr. Jackie Boerman, Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, as she discusses the many career opportunities for students that exist within the dairy industry.

When it comes to the dairy industry, there are a lot of different career opportunities that high school and college students may not know exist.

“Careers in animal science are numerous and they are diverse,” says Dr. Jackie Boerman, Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences at Purdue. She says the university is working to place students in careers involving the dairy industry related to scientific research, as well as the development of new technologies involving computers and robots.

“We’re now looking for students who are open to learning things that are a little outside of what we traditionally think about animal sciences,” says Dr. Boerman. “I look for students who have some data science skills, maybe have a little bit of engineering interests. It may be different than what you would traditionally think of animal science. We need a strong animal science background so we can develop technologies and sensors that make sense for production agriculture.”

Dr. Boerman also urges students to find careers in laboratory science to find better treatments or cures for cattle diseases like bovine mastitis and Foot-and-mouth Disease.

“There is a lot of that research in that area to try to detect the causative agent of different pathogens,” says Dr. Boerman. “We’re always looking for students who have that next great idea, are interested in research, and then welcome them into labs to try to hone some of those skills.”

Dr. Boerman says there are a number of outstanding career opportunities in scientific research for the dairy industry. Mohit Verma, professor of agricultural and biological engineering in Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, successfully developed an on-site bovine respiratory disease test as part of his research on dairy cattle. Photo courtesy of Purdue University.

Students may not realize a lot of sales and marketing jobs that support the dairy industry are also available.

“People that are willing to go out and talk to producers about the different offerings they have is always really valuable,” according to Dr. Boerman. “Someone who is comfortable on the farm and comfortable talking about the benefits of whatever they’re trying to sell or to market. Those tend to be jobs that pay pretty well, especially for a recent graduate.”

What advice does Dr. Boerman have for high school students who are thinking about the many different careers available in the dairy industry?

“Start working on a farm or maybe volunteering at a vet clinic that services large animals,” suggests Dr. Boerman. “I think if people see that you’re willing to put in the effort, they’re going to try to help you in a lot of other ways in your future.”

Photo courtesy of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.