Agriculture majors: More than crops and livestock

The rapid evolution of technology is changing the world quickly, but one thing stays the same: People need to eat. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) helps train students to participate in and contribute to our nation’s diverse food systems.

CALS is one of the oldest colleges at UW-Madison, established in 1889, and is home to 24 majors. There are about 3,400 undergraduate and 900 graduate students in the college.

CALS students also go into careers related to health, natural resources, bioenergy and supporting communities. A hallmark of a CALS education is students learning through exposure to real-world challenges, through their participation in out-of-classroom, hands-on experiences in fields and barns—including at the college’s 12 agricultural research stations—and in research laboratories.

Why do students choose CALS? We asked a few of them.

 Natalie Endres, Agricultural Business Management, this May will begin working at John Deere Financial as a Market Analyst.

“I chose Agricultural Business Management as my major because it was the perfect fit for combining my background in agriculture with my interests in marketing and management.”


Natalie Endres

Clare Gietzel, Agronomy, Certificates in Environmental Studies and Global Health, plans to earn masters and doctorate degrees in plant breeding and genetics and then pursue a career at a biotechnology company.

“My favorite part about being a CALS student is the sense of community rooted in a passion for agriculture I feel everywhere I go. As someone born and raised in a small rural community, the opportunity to be surrounded by so many like minded individuals that will one day be leaders in the agricultural industry is something I never knew could be achieved.”

Clare Gietzel2

Clare Gietzel at work in a field.

Izak Walker, Biochemistry and Life Sciences Communication, plans to attend medical school and become a physician that will serve and live in a rural community.

“There are students from small towns with rural backgrounds like myself, and there are students from metropolitan areas with little knowledge of agriculture. The varying backgrounds provides excellent opportunities to learn from one another and to share life experiences.”


Izak Walker working in a biochemistry lab.

Bailey Larson, Biological Systems Engineering (BSE), plans to pursue a career with a  company that designs, produces and installs milking systems and equipment.

“My favorite part of being a CALS student is being acquainted with students who have a strong passion for agriculture just like myself. Every student in CALS has a different agriculture story to share and that is what makes CALS very special to me.”


Bailey Larson

Samuel Danton, Dairy Science, plans to get a Global Health certificate and upon graduation pursue a career in sustainable agriculture.

“I chose Dairy Science as my major because I went to an agricultural high school where my major was Large Animal Science. I took care of farm animals on campus such as cows, pigs and horses. My junior year we did a unit on Dairy Science, that got me intrigued by dairy cows and the dairy industry.


Samuel Danton

Henry Holdorf, Dairy Science, is beginning a Ph.D. fellowship program with Dr. Heather White at UW-Madison this spring.

“One fun fact about my major is that the Dairy Science department not only has a working research dairy farm at Arlington Agricultural Research Station, but also has a working dairy farm right here on the UW-Madison campus, which allow students to do much more intensive research, without having to leave campus.”


Henry Holdorf

Katie Borden, dietetics, plans to complete a dietetics internship and her master’s degree and then become a dietitian at an outpatient clinic.

“I chose to be a dietetics major because I have always been interested in the health sciences and think that nutrition plays such an important role in health and wellness.  I chose dietetics because this will allow me to help others to achieve healthier lifestyles.”


Katie Borden

Zach Simons, Animal Science and Poultry Science, plans to either pursue a Ph.D. in Poultry Nutrition or become a production or farm manager at a laying hen farm.

“My favorite part about being a CALS major is all of the opportunities and resources that CALS provides me with. There is a plethora of clubs on campus that are sure to fulfill any interest that someone may have. Whether it’s Saddle and Sirloin, Poultry Club, Alpha Gamma Rho-Iota, Collegiate Farm Bureau or any of the other clubs that I have joined during my time here, I have come to make some of my best friends and great connections throughout the industry. I love sharing the knowledge that I have been taught about agriculture to other students and friends.”


Zach Simons

To learn more about the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences visit:

-Sara Griswold