Agriculture is for everyone – Jay Debertin on a “fireside chat” for students

The College of Business invited Jay Debertin, president and chief executive officer at CHS, to discuss a diverse set of career opportunities in agriculture as part of the annual Richard Schmitz Food Entrepreneurship Series.

Debertin is an expert in the agriculture industry with 40 years of experience. In 2017, he was appointed president and CEO at CHS, a global agricultural business owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the U.S. Debertin said he did not grow up on a farm but in a farming community. He started his journey as an intern in CHS’s `Energy Division.

“I quickly became really engaged in it and enthralled by what it can do, its potential and the fact that we help feed people around the world,” said Debertin. That just got into me and never left, and that’s how I’ve been at the company for 40 years now.”

Agricultural business is connected to different industries and areas of life, which gives business students a diverse set of career paths. With the advancement of technology, many things have changed in the agricultural business.

“Tremendous new technology has come into agriculture, including seed technology and precision farming, which uses inputs more efficiently and takes care of the land and water issues that have come so far,” said Debertin. “This has really been great for agriculture and for communities that depend on it. So I’ve seen just a lot, and I would say much of it is led by technology.”

Agribusiness and Food Innovation Program director Megan Roberts said this industry is a great option for a career path.

“It’s a very important potential career path, so that’s definitely one thing that I share with my students,” said Roberts. “But regardless of whether a student chooses agribusiness as a career field, everyone has to eat. So one thing I try to impart with students in my courses is just an awareness of food and agribusiness and our regional economy.”

“I think students want to be about something bigger than just what they are, that they can feel that they are working in a field or for a company that has a larger purpose,” said Debertin. “And I think increasingly, students want that sense of purpose in what they do in addition to a good job and pay. Agriculture can offer that no matter what your choice of discipline is, for example, if you are in finance, or you are in information technology, or you know human resources or in communications, or in sales and marketing or engineering.”

Debertin believes it’s a great time to join the workforce and help them find solutions to issues concerning sustainability, production and other challenges.

Everyone interested can watch the recording of the presentation to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture. The presentation recording is available on the MSU website.

Header photo: Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS discussed his diverse career in agriculture in the Centennial Student Union. (Courtesy mnstatemankato Instagram)

Write to Amalia Sharaf at

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