Enrollment in the college has increased 14 percent since 2003 as job prospects brighten and industry optimism grows. While ag enrollment is up over the past five years, the university's overall enrollment has remained stable at about 26,160 this year.
Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the college, said an entire generation of young people were turned off of agriculture because of the economic depression of the 1980s. She said parents of those young people told them to forget about farming because of the financial difficulties they were going through.
That's changed, Wintersteen said. "There's been a radical change in agriculture," Wintersteen said. "The ag jobs have been good for a while, but it's really bloomed. We had to have two career fairs this year because of the demand for Iowa State's ag students. The agribusiness companies know they have to compete for our graduates."
Michael Gaul, a career services director at the college, said the job market for very good.
"We've been riding a really good wave for job opportunities for the last five years," Gaul said. "This could be one of the best job markets in agriculture ever, and I say to the young people that it can only get better."
Michelle Haegele of Davenport, a food science major who graduates next month, has already accepted a job with Archer Daniels Midland in its vegetable oil department in Decatur, Ill.
She said internships she held helped her get the job, but that her career at Iowa State was also a factor.
"There are a huge amount of jobs available to us because of the college," she said.