BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A new USDA study shows agriculture is one of the best fields for recent graduates. The report shows about 35,000 students graduate each year with higher degrees in agriculture related fields but there are almost 58.000 job openings. That means only about 60 percent of job openings will be filled.

The study looked at openings in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environmental fields across America. It found the trend will continue, predicting a strong job market for the next five years.

Experts at Buffalo State say the challenge is making students aware of the opportunities in these fields.

“The development of the solar city solar power plant in South Buffalo is a reminder that renewable energy is really big issue here in the Northeastern United States and Western New York,” said Daniel Potts, an Associate Professor of Biology. “We see that by the wind turbines in Southern Tier as a reminder renewable energy is a major industry.”

He also expects more jobs in water resources as communities out West try to deal with droughts and turn to the Great Lakes for help. His colleagues at University at Buffalo agree water resources will be an important area of study.

“We in Western New York have the advantage of having water and land available to us so I can only imagine we’ll be one of those regions where the growth would be even higher,” said Dr. Samina Raja, Associate Professor of Urban & Regional Planning at UB. “We’re already seeing a great interest in farming.”

Dr. Raja is the principal investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab at the university. The lab looks at how planning and policy can strengthen food systems.

Jenny Whittaker works in the lab and has completed her masters in Urban Mutual Planning. She’s been researching the connection between farmers and people who don’t have access to food, to find a way to bridge that gap.

“I think people sometimes think of farming as just being manual labor and forget the extensive education involved in it,” said Whittaker. “There’s a huge body of knowledge people need to know.”

Dr. Raja told us there is now a growing number of students and community members interested in agriculture and food.