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January 28, 2014

Purdue Profiles: Tracie Egger

Tracie Egger

Tracie Egger, assistant director of academic programs in the College of Agriculture. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Tracie Egger is passionate about showing prospective students how earning a degree from the College of Agriculture can precipitate a lifetime of success.

Egger is the college's assistant director of academic programs. When she's not explaining to high school students how an agriculture degree can lead to a career as a doctor, scientist, business leader or something else, Egger advises the college's undergraduate student ambassadors and its pre-veterinary medicine students.

How do you promote agriculture education and the College of Agriculture to prospective students?

Annually, I travel to 10 to 20 high schools, trade shows and conferences in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois to talk about the academic options here at Purdue and to discuss how an education in agriculture opens doors. For example, the fields that address the greatest societal concerns in the world are enveloped in agriculture -- with an agriculture degree, you can go on to so many different careers. There's a misconception among a lot of people that agriculture is only about farming.

What are the benefits of studying agriculture at Purdue?

Overall, when I'm talking to prospective students, I try to emphasize the tie between agriculture and science, business and engineering. That's not a connection most people logically make, but at Purdue it's very strong. For example, families usually don't know that our biochemistry major is a great program for pre-med students. And plant sciences, which is an area of great importance to us at Purdue, is a gateway to so many careers that will lead to feeding the world’s growing population.   

For example, Purdue students can study plant breeding and genetics and end up working for a seed company. Or, they can study entomology and horticulture and work in the fruit and tree production industry. And agronomy is a fascinating field that allows graduates to work on issues related to world hunger.

How do you work with the College of Agriculture's student ambassadors?

I'm their advisor, so we meet every other week for meetings and discuss team building and other leadership activities. Our ambassadors are invaluable -- they help with our events for prospective students and lead tours for prospective students. They do a great job of explaining the opportunities the College of Agriculture offers from a student's perspective.

Moreover, our student ambassadors do a great job of telling their stories to prospective students. When ambassadors tell prospective students why they decided to attend Purdue and study in the College of Agriculture -- and when they are able to talk about the success they've found here -- it really gets prospective students excited.

How did you become interested in agriculture yourself?

I grew up on a small family farm in Clinton County, and I was very involved in 4-H and FFA, particularly with livestock showing and judging. I received my bachelor's degree from Purdue in agricultural communication and accepted a position at the National Swine Registry here in West Lafayette. Then I attended Oklahoma State University and earned a master's degree in agriculture and extension education.

All along, I thought I would enjoy working for Purdue Extension because I was interested in providing training for youth and agriculture professionals. After I graduated from Oklahoma State, I accepted a position with Purdue Extension in Posey County, which is just west of Evansville. I came back to Purdue's West Lafayette campus to take a two-year position through Extension. Then, I began my career in student services in the Office of Academic Programs in the College of Agriculture. I continued my education in the meantime and received my PhD in agricultural education in 2009.

To me, the most rewarding aspect of my job is watching the growth of our students. I love to see them go from student leaders to young professionals who land great internships to professionals who often end up in the jobs of their dreams. It's incredibly gratifying to be able to help them along their journey while they're at Purdue. When our students are successful, I'm successful -- that's how I see things.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, ahamon@purdue.edu, 49-61325