National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix


Charting Agricultural Careers

Grade Level(s)

6 - 8

Estimated Time

Two or three 45-minute sessions


Students will explore the current and future needs required to produce food, clothing, shelter, and fuel; and the variety of agricultural STEM careers requiring critical thinkers and problem solvers to meet our needs.


Essential Links


agriculture: the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products

Background Agricultural Connections

Everyone has a connection to agriculture. Because agriculture is the endeavor that supports everyone’s basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter), innovations in agriculture have been a result of the integration and application of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In agriculture there are five CTE Career Pathways: Agricultural Systems Technology, Animal Science, Food Production and Processing Systems, Natural Resource Systems, and Plant Systems. Within these CTE Pathways you will find the career of farmer and rancher. Over the last two centuries, the number of farmers and ranchers needed to produce food, clothing, and shelter has decreased. The number of farmers and farm workers in the US workforce fell from a high of 98% in 1776, to 12% in the 1950s, to about 2% today. How is this possible? The US population has grown from 76 million in 1900 to 316 million in 2013. With this growth in population why are there fewer farmers and ranchers? The answer, STEM innovations related to on farm production and the growth of agricultural businesses to distribute agricultural goods and services.

To meet our current and future needs, agricultural STEM innovators (scientists and engineers), implementers (technicians), and agricultural business leaders are needed to fill a variety of agricultural careers. These innovators, implementers, and leaders will need to think critically and solve problems related to our everyday survival.

Each year the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the United States Department of Labor gather massive amounts of data. The USDA gathers consumer information, producer data, production data, and economic data. The Bureau of Labor gathers data about America’s workforce. Specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (part of the Department of Labor) is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. Much of the data collected by these agencies is quantitative and is presented in a variety of chart or graphs. In this lesson, students will explore specific agricultural careers by interpreting infographics that present “career findings” through images, graphs, and charts. Most agricultural jobs are STEM related and the “M” or mathematic component requires that students be able to collect data, analyze the data, and present findings for others. This lesson engages students with infographics and introduces them to the types of charts and graphs used in and used to define agricultural careers.

Interest Approach – Engagement

  1. As a class, review the home page.
  2. Allow various students to navigate through the site by scrolling through the “Featured Jobs” and then browsing the jobs using the world map. Look at other places around the globe, before looking at the United States.
  3. Investigate opportunities in areas of the United States known as large agricultural areas (e.g., the Midwest and California) before looking at your home state.
  4. Discuss any patterns or information that surprises students. 


Day 1-2

  1. Navigate to the Infographics page of the website (under Job Seekers > Resources). This page includes the “Top Agricultural Careers in ….” for seven career areas. 
  2. Review with students one of the infographics and discuss the types of charts or graphs used on the infographic. (Note: To download a high resolution image of the infographic to view on the screen, click on the “print icon” on each infographic page. This will save the image to a location on your computer, desktop or downloads; the image will not print until you open the downloaded jpg image. Students will be able to see all the detail/text of the infographic if the file is downloaded.) If students are not sure of the type of chart or graph (e.g., bar graph, pie charts, line graph, pictograph, flow chart), use this website to aid in their understanding, These types of graphs are used in every discipline and career. If students are struggling with these basic graphs, take time to explain how each one is used.
  3. Put students into seven groups and assign each group a “Top Agricultural Careers in …” infographic from Ask each group to review their infographic and determine (think about) the type of graph or chart used, if any other type of chart or graph could be used, and what the chart or graph is telling them about the careers in the specific area.
  4. Ask each group to meet (pair) with another group and discuss their infographics with each other, discussing the types of charts/graphs and what the infographic is saying. The groups may need to review this website—
  5. Ask each group to share their infographic with the entire class stating what they learned about the careers in their infographic that they did not know before. 

Day 2–3

  1. Place students into groups of two or three. Ask each group to navigate to the Career Profiles page of the website (under Job Seekers > Resources). This page includes the career profiles of more than 100 agricultural careers. 
  2. Ask each group to select two careers from this page, and one job posting from the “Featured Jobs” on the home page. Ask students to explore the careers by comparing and contrasting the jobs, noting similarities and differences (i.e., education, experience or training required, salary, and the job outlook).
  3. Allow each group to share and elaborate on their exploration. 

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

  1. To assess student understanding of charts and graphs related to agriculture, search Google images with this term “agricultural graphs.” Randomly select a few of the charts or graphs and ask each student or group to explain what each chart is saying (this can be done orally or as a written assessment). 
  2. After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
    • Agriculture is the endeavor that supports everyone’s basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter).
    • To meet our current and future needs, agricultural STEM innovators (scientists and engineers), implementers (technicians), and agricultural business leaders are needed to fill a variety of agricultural careers.
    • These innovators, implementers, and leaders will need to think critically and solve problems related to our everyday survival.

We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!


Enriching Activities

Suggested Companion Resources

Agricultural Literacy Outcomes

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

  • Identify science careers related to both producers and consumers of agricultural products (T4.6-8.g)

Education Content Standards


Career Ready Practices

  • CRP.10.1
    Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.

Common Core Connections

Mathematics: Practice Standards

    Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
    Model with mathematics. Students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. Students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.


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