CALS students participate in global research. Among the areas of study: a NASA partnership investigating the possibility of growing food on Mars; developing non-toxic strategies to protect crops from pests around the globe; reducing global water shortages; and stemming the spread of disease.

“We are combining science and technology and applying it to real world problems,” Winzerling said. “Science moves at a rapid pace. At the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, we put that science to work.”

CALS partners with other UA colleges, including engineering, public health, medicine, and the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship in the Eller College of Management to prepare graduates for careers and continuing education.

“Many of our graduates are prepared to go on to medical, dental and pharmacy school,” Sharp said.

Also, the college is experiencing growing diversity among students. Nearly 70 percent of CALS students are women and half of those come from rural communities.

CALS is spreading its reach, most recently growing its program at UA Yuma.

Tanya Hodges is the academic program coordinator for CALS in Yuma. She said virtually all of her students are placed in jobs, many before graduation. On average, her graduates start with salaries of $40,000 or higher.

“All of our degrees are grassroots, meaning they come from industry,” Hodges said. “We survey industry, asking them where they need people to work. We look at the needs of our industry and our community in workforce development.”

Among the degrees offered are sustainable plant systems with a crop production emphasis, agriculture technology management and family studies and human development.

The college prepares many graduates to work in the leafy greens industry. Consider this: Yuma processes 18 million pounds of lettuce each day in the cool months, which is distributed throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and Europe.

“It takes somebody that really has that background and training, whether they want to become a pesticide applicator, whether they want to go into food safety or the finance, marketing, and sales area,” Hodges said. “It’s a very fast and furious industry.”

She said technology in agriculture is rapidly evolving, and CALS is preparing students for industry needs of the future.

Agriculture is a critical component in Arizona’s economy. The movement of goods and services related to agriculture and food products feeds millions, is worth billions and makes up a large part of the desert Southwest’s economy, Hodges said.

“The challenge of feeding the world and taking care of the world really is the responsibility of those in agriculture,” Hodges said. “Agriculture continues to set the pace for our entire nation’s standard of living.”