Alison KegganAlison Keggan

Alison Keggan
Alison Keggan
Education: Warren Hills High School, Cornell University
HomeTown: Port Murray
Occupation: Agricultural Business Major

Alison Keggan

As the Nontraditional Career Resource Center (http://www.ncrc.rutgers.edu) at Rutgers University wants you to know, men and women are free to pursue any career. Forget those stereotypes! Women can become aerospace engineers and men can teach elementary school. The idea is to learn to think differently about the career paths you wish to explore and how you best fit into them.

Alison Keggan, 20, gave lots of thought to the image of herself in overalls as she earned her high school diploma and left her home in Port Murray, Warren County to head off to college a few years ago. Alison, whose father had grown up on a dairy farm in Hunterdon County, always had an affinity for the land and animals. She joined the 4-H club as a young girl, traveling to fairs to show sheep, dairy cattle, goats, rabbits and chickens. And by the time she reached Warren Hills High School, she was ready to join the FFA, an agricultural education organization that used to be more commonly known as the Future Farmers of America. Alison eventually became vice president of the state chapter.

But did she want to be a farmer for a living? Turns out, agriculture had lots more options for her once she took a closer look. These days, Alison is training for a whole new level of ag education. As a junior at Cornell University, she is working toward a career in ag business and a degree in animal science. Agricultural business majors study the financing, marketing and management of food production. She takes classes like agri-business strategy, marketing and farm management, and she spent last semester studying in New Zealand, a large agricultural country that has a mere 4 million residents, half the size of New York City. Then again, Alison does tend to prefer fuzzier neighbors. “New Zealand was absolutely awesome,” says Alison, who attended Massey University while down under. “Where I lived, there were literally sheep right out my back door. I got to take classes through the agricommerce program in agricultural policy, agricultural management and business management.” Where will all this lead? “I would like to get my PhD in ag business, work for a couple years with the United States Department of Agriculture in trade policy and then become a college professor,” says Alison. No overalls required.

New Jersey also has post-secondary agricultural education courses and programs. For example, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, a four-year school, offers many different agriculture courses. Several other colleges in the state offer two-year degrees. They are:

  • Union County College: Botany, Horticulture
  • Ocean County College: Horticulture, Turf Management
  • Mercer County Community College: Plant Science, Ornamental Horticulture
  • Cumberland County College: Production Agriculture, Ornamental Horticulture, Floriculture, Landscape Technology
  • Camden County College: Animal Science
  • Brookdale Community College: Biology and Horticulture, Certificate in Ornamental Horticulture
  • Bergen Community College: Horticulture, Certificate in Landscaping, Floral Design, Grounds Management
  • County College of Morris: Landscape and Horticultural Technology

For a list of 4-year colleges in the Northeast offering agriculture-related studies, go to www.jerseyageducation.nj.gov/agriculture/ag_ed/ffa/scholarships/4yrAgColleges.pdf.