Career Success

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An agricultural communications degree can lead to career opportunities with advertising, public relations firms, government agencies, commodity promotion groups, newspapers, radio and TV stations, magazines, non-profit, and other organizations.

This is an area of expertise in high demand. The US Department of Agriculture projects an average 7,000 annual openings for graduates until 2020.

Ag Comm Statistics in a Glance

Average class size (four-year average): 18

Student-faculty ratio: 11:1

Retention: 98%

Graduation rate: 98%

Internship placement: 100%

Employment: 76% accept a full-time position upon graduation. Of recent grads who accepted jobs, 71% were in Illinois

Entry-level salaries across concentrations: Average of $48,705; $11-15K higher than other communication majors

7% pursue advanced degrees or certification

What graduates do with their degrees

Graduates enter many different fields and find opportunities in small towns and large cities. They write articles, shoot photographs and videos, and produce radio and television programs. They work for agribusiness and public relations firms, develop company magazines and websites, produce digital content, and manage consumer relations and social media. Graduates enter the public sector, work in legislative communications, public information, or as extension and experiment station editors. Some work for nonprofit organizations as communications directors or executive officers.

Potential employers are public relations firms, trade organizations, governmental agencies such as USDA or EPA, agribusiness firms, food companies, livestock breed associations, farm organizations, media companies.

The following are but a few careers open to agricultural journalism and communication majors.

  • Account executive/manager for ag- and environment-oriented advertising/public relations agencies
  • Ag/Farm Broadcaster (radio, TV, online)
  • County manager
  • Creative director
  • Customer relations
  • Dealer communications specialist
  • Development officer
  • Director of communications
  • Editor, writer, reporter, publisher
  • 4-H program coordinator
  • Industry relations specialist
  • Marketing specialist
  • Media communications specialist
  • Media relations and public relations manager
  • Meetings and events coordinator
  • Multimedia designer
  • News group editor, manager
  • Online content editor
  • Photographer/photojournalist
  • Press secretary
  • Public relations specialist
  • Sales and marketing associate
  • Social media coordinator
  • Sustainability specialist
  • Technical writer
  • Videographer
  • Web content manager
  • Web master

Alumni Profiles

Colleen Callahan

Colleen Callahan

After earning her Ag Comm degree in 1973, Colleen Collahan served as agribusiness director for WMBD Radio and TV in Peoria for 32 years before setting up Colleen Callahan Communications in 2003. In 2008, she ran for Congress before being named Illinois Director for Rural Development with the USDA in July 2009.

In her current role, Callahan oversees 93 employees in 11 offices statewide. She travels the entire state to track the progress of these projects and to see how funding is best utilized. She also travels extensively beyond the state to gain insights from other state directors in the Midwest on how to provide technical assistance so that communities can undertake empowerment programs.

Ann Kafer

Ann Kafer

Vice President for Human Resources and Strategy for GROWMARK, Ann Kafer, is responsible for the direction of the corporate strategic planning process, and provides management direction to human resource functions and corporate services operations.

Kafer graduated with honors from the University of Illinois in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications. She credits the Ag Comm curriculum for preparing her well for a career in communications and agribusiness. She keeps in touch with her college cohort and other alumni, both older and younger, who make up “quite a network and quite a reputation that the University of Illinois has in agricultural communications.” This network, she observes, has grown over the years in the service of the agriculture industry.

John Volk

John Volk

Volk launched his own management consulting firm, John Volk Associates, in 1994. As an independent management consultant, he advises companies in a broad range of areas, including long-range strategic planning, new product introductions, corporate identity and product positioning, marketing and issues management.

For nearly 50 years, Volk has been integral to efforts to strengthen the Agricultural Communications Program. Since his graduation in 1967, he has generously hosted student visits to his firm and the Volk home, provided scholarships and internships to students, offered employment opportunities to graduates, and gave counsel to students and faculty members. He served on the Agricultural Communications Alumni Leadership Council from 2000-2003, helping provide direction during a period of program transition. During the past 10 years, he has been a core member of an alumni team that supported efforts leading to an innovative new collaboration between the College of ACES and the College of Media. Since 1962, these two colleges have partnered in offering the Agricultural Communications Program as one of the senior interdisciplinary academic programs of the University.