For years, students have used Kansas State University's business and wildlife programs to find success.
A new degree that's a combination of both could be Tyler Hiltibrand's ticket to a great career.
"It's a perfect fit for about everything I need," said Hiltibrand, a sophomore hoping to start a company that works with wildlife food plots.
He's one of 18 students in K-State's wildlife and outdoor enterprise management program. The first-year program is the only one of its kind nationally.
Never miss a local story.
Director Thomas Warner said it began as a request from companies in the fishing, hunting and target shooting industry.
Businesses said they had access to employees with wildlife or business educations, but wanted people with both.
Designing the program took about three years and has input from educators and many within the outdoors industry.
"It's a really good mix," Warner said. "(Students) will have a solid wildlife education and they'll also graduate with a minor in business."
Next fall's incoming class will have 40 students. Within a few years, Warner said it should be 50. Applicants outnumber openings and come from across the nation.
As well as traditional wildlife and business courses, students will take classes that help prepare them for management careers in the hunting, fishing and shooting industry.
"We have a lot of courses on outdoor skills," Warner said. "They'll have courses on big-game hunting and guiding, freshwater fishing and guiding, upland bird, waterfowl and turkey hunting and guiding."
Other courses will be taught on hospitality, planting and maintaining food plots; rifle, shotgun and handgun shooting; and target range management.
Students will also take courses on firearms maintenance and repair. All students should leave the course certified to teach hunter education classes.
"They're all very hands-on courses," Warner said. "They'll be shooting and fishing and working with equipment."
He said a great deal of research and industry input went into designing the classes.
"All of the students are drug-tested for safety and liability issues," he said. "The industry is really grateful we're doing it."
Many outdoors businesses are willing to give some intense on-the-job training. The program comes with a mandatory mid-May to December internship.
Flint Oak, a world-renowned shooting and hunting facility in Elk County, plans on taking two interns per year. Jeff Oakes, Flint Oak's general manager, said the interns will work with the food plot programs and deep within the hunting and target shooting portions of Flint Oak.
"They'll end up about everywhere," Oakes said. "They'll be working in the kennel, learning what it takes to keep all those athletes in great shape. I'll run them through the entire business office so they'll be dealing with accounts and customers."
He said the diversity of the internship and the new program's formal education means the students should have no problems finding jobs in a highly competitive field.
"If one of these kids applies and has this four-year degree and has that internship from someplace like Flint Oak, if that doesn't move them to the top of the stack, I don't know what will," Oakes said.