A Follow-up of Animal Science Graduates at Texas A&M University, 1950-2010
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Graduates from 1950 to 2010 with a B.S. degree in animal science from the Department of Animal Science of Texas A&M University were sent questionnaires by e-mail to collect information on how graduates of the department were being influenced in their career decisions by their educational experiences in the department and how they perceived selected components of the program. The questionnaire contained questions about their backgrounds and their careers. It also contained 23 statements to which respondents answered using a 5-point scale from strongly disagree to being strongly agree. Approximately 3,000 questionnaires were e-mailed, and 633 with full data were returned. Male respondents were found to have more agricultural experience than females. Almost half of the males reported that they were in careers related to their animal science degree while slightly more than one-fourth of the females indicated animal science-related careers. Participants who were very experienced in agriculture prior to college were more likely to be in a career related to their animal science degree than were those with other levels of experience. Participants responded with their levels of agreement to statements about their experiences in animal science courses. The statements with the highest level of agreement involved practical, hands-on and generic skills and attributes, industry involvement, and current issues in animal science. Graduates agreed that hands-on involvement with animals in courses and involvement with industry leaders were important. Similarly, they agreed that character, integrity, and work ethic were important attributes to develop in students. Communication skills?both oral and written?were highly important, too. On the other hand, graduates believed that the animal science curriculum did not emphasize creativity and did not provide enough flexibility to emphasize specialized areas of animal science such as companion animals. Continual research about animal science graduates, their academic programs, and their careers is important to track the ever-changing demands and needs of the agricultural industry and of students.