Tennessee Farmers Cooperative Provides Career Opportunities for Students

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative (TFC) provides excellent opportunities for CASNR students. TFC offers internships as well as full-time jobs for agriculture students attending the University of Tennessee. Paul Binkley, regional manager and training coordinator for TFC, held on-campus interviews with eleven students on March 9. Six of the students were interviewing for summer internships whereas the other five were interviewing for the full-time management trainee job.

Interns are placed in a twelve-week summer assignment in local cooperative stores across the state of Tennessee and surrounding areas. Many are able to work in or near their hometown. The interns gain valuable experience working with customers in stores plus participating in events. The one-year management trainee program typically involves exposure to and performance of duties and responsibilities in various aspects at the member cooperatives and TFC departmental levels in addition to continuing classroom education. Students who successfully complete the internship or trainee program have opportunity to interview for full-time positions within a member cooperative or the TFC system upon graduation.

Mr. Binkley commented that all the students conducted themselves professionally and provided impressive resumes. TFC representatives have historically participated in the annual CASNR Career Fair and conducted on-campus interviews in the fall and spring semesters.



Two outreach coordinators, Kaitlyn Webb and A. J. Conrad, with the American Conservation Experience (ACE) made a special visit to CASNR on March 25, 2015. The visit, coordinated by Emily Gray of the CASNR Dean’s office, included speaking to a class, holding an information session, and touring the campus. While their offices are located in Arizona, Ms. Webb and Mr. Conrad were planning a trip to ACE’s North Carolina location and reached out to Mary Mahoney of UT Career Services about the possibility of visiting CASNR. ACE is a non-profit conservation corps based out of Flagstaff, Arizona, with additional bases in St. George, Utah and Asheville, North Carolina. Their program offers hands-on conservation experience, leadership opportunities, educational awards, and the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for preservation and enhancement of the environment.

Dr. Jennifer Franklin, associate professor in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries invited Ms. Webb and Mr. Conrad to speak to her class, Applied Ecosystem Restoration. After a brief introduction to the ACE program, students participated in an energetic question-and-answer session.

After a tour of campus, the ACE representatives set up a table display outside Mabel’s cafeteria to share information and answer questions from students. Approximately eighteen students stopped by to talk with the representatives. Ms. Webb reported that a good number of the students had done previous research on ACE, which they always appreciate. She said the majority of the students had insightful questions and seemed interested. She plans to contact all the individuals who left email addresses.

The visit was very productive and both CASNR and ACE look forward to continuing a relationship. ACE will provide job and internship postings for future opportunities.



CASNR Constructed a Model of Success

CASNR’s Construction Science Program originated the fall of 2010 with a pilot group of five students.  These first five graduated within their four-year time frame and immediately found opportunities within the construction management profession. Over the last four years these original students have been joined by seventy-four additional construction students with fourteen of them already graduating and finding the same employment success. Now, in the fall of 2014, the program has rapidly grown to become a recognized provider of quality graduates to the construction industry. 

Last fall’s CASNR Career Fair featured twenty construction firms participating along with twenty-eight other firms and organizations. These construction companies represented various regions of the country as well as our local Knoxville-based firms.  The results of the career fair provided full-time positions to all December construction graduates and job offers for many of the May 2015 graduates. Along with the full-time slots, almost all the companies provide paid internships or co-op opportunities. As we see many of our new structures going up on the UT Knoxville Campus, many of our construction students will be integrated into the management work force of these projects.

The October 24, 2014, Associated General Contractor of America Data Digest, with 84 percent of their sub-contracting and general contracting members responding, presented the following employment needs assessment:

The following percentages are firms who are having difficulty locating construction professionals giving the current and projected growth of the construction industry. The findings that impact the CASNR Construction Science Program are: 32 percent are finding difficulty locating construction managers, 48 percent finding estimating professionals, and 32 percent finding engineers related to construction.

It might have been blind luck or genius when the founders of the Construction Program decided to start an economically sensitive area of study in the midst of one of our nation’s worst economic downturns to have it culminate at the four-year point when construction is expanding with tremendous current and projected personnel needs.