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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

What kind of job do you want when you grow up?

Fun Careers in a Small Town

Photo: Bowl of whole and half-sliced orangesWhat kind of job do you want when you grow up? Maybe you've already decided that you want to be a doctor or a firefighter or an astronaut. Or maybe you want some kind of job that hasn't even been thought of yet.

Scientists have especially interesting jobs because sometimes what they invent is...more jobs for other people! A scientist might discover a totally new way to do something, and that discovery can be turned into a whole new business where lots of people work. That's what happened in Groveland, a little town in Florida.

Here's the story: First, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service figured out a way to peel an orange without using their hands! An orange peel sticks to the fruit because it's "glued on" by white fluffy stuff called albedo. When you've peeled an orange, you've probably noticed how hard it is to get every little bit of this white albedo off the outside of the orange slices.

Photo: Four employees of PRE-PEELED, Inc., removing peels from citrus fruits that earlier were given an enzyme 'bath' If the albedo weren't there, the peel would just fall off the orange. So the ARS scientists figured that if you could find a way to melt the albedo, getting the peel off would be easy.

Photo: President of PRE-PEELED, Inc. and ARS chemist examining a package of oranges that are already peeledThe scientists discovered that you can use a natural substance called an enzyme to dissolve the albedo. (Enzymes are in lots of things already--including your body!) Then a company in Groveland built a whole new business using enzymes to peel oranges. So, thanks to the scientists who figured out how to dissolve albedo, lots of people in Groveland got a brand-new kind of job in their town--and one of these days you might get an orange for lunch that's already peeled!

Photo: Pine straw in four different colors within wooden frameMaybe you'd rather have a job right in your own backyard. ARS scientists have figured out some ways you could do that. For example, if you have pine trees around your house, you might collect and sell the "pine straw," the little needles that fall off the pine trees. Landscapers--people who decorate yards with flowers, bushes and trees--like to spread pine straw around the bottom of plants. The pine straw helps hold water in the soil so the plants can use it.

So...you don't always have to go to a big city to get a good job. Thanks to discoveries from ARS scientists, you might wind up with an amazing kind of job like you've never seen before, right in your own town. In fact, you might even be a scientist--because lots of ARS scientists live in small towns, too!

--By Sandy Miller Hays, Agricultural Research Service, Information Staff

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Last Modified: 2/14/2011
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