What "green job" can I get with these plant science degrees?
July 17, 2009 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I have a BS in Horticulture (UGA) and will soon have an MS in Crop Science (NCSU). I've spent most of my life in school and now I'm nearing the end and need to know: What kind of jobs can these degrees help me get?

First, a few caveats:

1) I'm moving to Portland, OR which is full of green jobs, sustainability initiatives, farmer's markets, and all of the wonderful agriculture in the Willamette Valley. Please constrain your suggestions to jobs that would potentially be available there (i.e. Portland, Gresham, Beaverton, Milwaukee, etc)

2) I would like a job that is in the city, accessible by bus or MAX. Ideally no more than 4 miles from the end of any transit line (I'm not willing to bike more than that, especially during the rainy season). Something with at least 40% of the time outside, interacting in the community, traveling, etc... I don't want to be stuck in front of a computer all day, every day.

3) I do not want to work for a greenhouse, in landscaping, turfgrass, etc. I'm looking for something more meaningful, related to helping the environment, community, farmers, etc. My ideal job title would be something along the lines of "Director of Agricultural/Environmental Sustainability" for Multnomah County (if that job even exists!).

4) Possibly relevant past experience includes: Worked for several years as a web/graphic designer, ran my own small business, served in the Air Force as a satellite communications technician, worked on organic agriculture projects in Latin America, speak Spanish fairly well.

NOTE: I'm not looking for actual, currently available jobs. Just pointers on what kind of positions I could look for, types of companies (or even specific names) that I should keep an eye on, search terms, etc. I have no idea where to start and/or get my foot in the door.

Thanks in advance for the help. It is a bit overwhelming to find a job when you don't even know what the options are!
posted by bengarland to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You'd make a great extension agent.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:02 AM on July 17, 2009

Two ideas:

I work for a farm. One of the farmers markets at which we sell has a "farm forager" position. The job description is basically to find new farms to come to the market, to help farms develop business links to restaurants in the city, and to help chefs find sustainably and locally grown sources for their ingredients. In a sense, it's like a matchmaker position.

Another idea: Take a look at the jobs on Sustainable Business. The Sustainability Jedi job is what caught my eye today.

(I have the same sort of problem in a sense, although I've been out of school for a while. Sometimes it's really hard for me to imagine the sort of job I want, since I have the feeling that there are a lot of jobs out there that I'd like and could do well, if only I knew about them in the first place. My current job is like that, although I can't do it forever and so I'm always thinking of what might be next.)

posted by veggieboy at 9:26 AM on July 17, 2009

Seconding Extension Agent. We used to use our local agent as a goldmine of ag information. The cool thing, I think, would be the variety of clients you have to deal with - everything from suburban gardeners to city dwellers asking about container gardening to small farmers asking about soil composition and crop yields. It really does seem like a great job.
posted by Tchad at 9:27 AM on July 17, 2009

Have you considered joining the Peace Corps?
posted by mareli at 10:04 AM on July 17, 2009

Response by poster: Extension agent looks promising. Peace Corps not an option... I'm ready to settle down. Keep the suggestions coming!
posted by bengarland at 10:40 AM on July 17, 2009

Arboretum Curator?
posted by EnsignLunchmeat at 10:44 AM on July 17, 2009

A friend of mine has the same degree you do (from the same school, too. Go, Wolfpack.) and has worked for many years for the Soil Conservation Agency of the Department of Agriculture. He analyzes soil, helps farmers with irrigation, run-off, and crop management, and generally spends most of his time driving around in the country looking at dirt. It's a great job that he loves a lot.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:46 AM on July 17, 2009

How about wine vineyards?
posted by heather-b at 10:48 AM on July 17, 2009

A friend from our community garden does landscaping, but is also doing a vegetable garden consulting thing where he builds raised beds, gives classes on gardening, etc to rich ladies who want to have a garden, but don't really know where to start. It's not important, but he enjoys it and it helps pay the bills.
posted by electroboy at 12:06 PM on July 17, 2009

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