College of Agriculture and Life Sciences College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Sun, 11 Jun 2017 18:23:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Horticultural Science Students Design Pollinator Garden That’s a Work of Art Mon, 01 May 2017 04:01:13 +0000 NC State University’s Gregg Museum touts a collection of 34,000 objects of art and design, and now, thanks to the work of horticultural science students, it has a new artful garden designed to attract bees and other pollinators.

Last fall, horticulture students in Anne Spafford’s planting design studio developed the garden plan, and on Thursday April 20, several of them joined with other interested horticulture students to help Spafford install plants at the museum on Hillsborough Street. Bayer Crop Science provided funding for the garden.

Spafford said the Gregg Museum garden should help the university in its quest to become the second official Bee Campus in North Carolina and one of the first 25 in the nation.

Professor spreading mulch around a plant.
Associate professor Anne Spafford taught the planting design class that developed the garden.

While NC State has several other pollinator gardens, the one at the Gregg Museum is unique, Spafford said. “The art museum setting called for a very different design: one that supports a multitude of pollinators as much of the year as possible and one that is also artfully designed. This isn’t a naturalistic area – the design had to respond to the context of the space.”

She noted that the design juxtaposes colors and textures as it helps tie together the former chancellor’s residence, which was built in 1928, with a modern museum addition.

One way it bridges the traditional and the modern is through a symmetrical design “with a little bit of wild tendencies,” she added. “When the garden is complete, it will have coneflowers, phlox, false indigo, orange and red bearded irises, red twig dogwoods, and many native flowering plants such as joe pye weed and culver’s root, along with ribbons of wispy grasses. Be on the lookout for some unexpected surprises, like blue-green agaves.”

Because Roger Manley, the museum’s director, wanted a pollinator garden, the students had to come up with a garden plan that would be in bloom from early spring through the first frost.

The garden’s brightly colored irises and other flowering plants will attract pollinators.

“It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the timing of the blooms and the arrangement of the plants,” said alumna Brittany Bell, who works for Pender Nursery in Wake County and who joined Spafford to help install the garden.

Senior J.R. Little was there, too, and he said he “felt privileged” to help design and install the garden.

“A lot of our designs, we don’t get to see go in,” he said. “But this gave us the opportunity to develop the design and then come back later and see how everything worked together.”

Interested in creating new horticultural science opportunities at NC State?

Give Today

Students Challenged to Design Incredible Edible Cars Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:52:12 +0000 Written by Rebecca Nagy, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Protein bars. A sausage link. Carrots. Cookies. Hot dogs.

While these may not seem like the ideal materials to build a car, they’re what students utilized in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering’s 14th Annual Edible Vehicle Design Competition.

Each year since 2004, students in Andy Hale’s Introduction to Biological and Agricultural Engineering class have taken on the challenge to think outside the box to build, race and eat their own edible cars.

“The future of engineering will involve integration with biology,” notes Garey Fox, head of the department. “While BAE students may not be designing edible cars in the future, they will need to work very closely with biological materials, such as using enzymes to create biofuels, understanding biological processing of nutrients in streams, or understanding sweet potato growth under variable soil and weather conditions.

“The Biological and Agricultural Engineering program prepares students to engineer for a sustainable tomorrow,” he continues.

Ready to Race

The first-place flyer traveled nearly three feet from the ramp.

While students cultivate skills that will be practical in their careers and lives, the race provides a fun atmosphere to close out the semester.

“The spirit of competition really takes over,” Hale explains.

Students release their cars at the top of a ramp but they cannot give it a push or coax it down the runway. The vehicles are measured based on distance traveled from the end of the ramp. While the runway remains the same, each year brings a new set of students and their creations. Some vehicles stand out more than others.

“I can’t remember what it was made of, but one was deep fried something,” Hale recalls. “It’s sure to be the next sensation at the North Carolina State Fair.”

While the vehicles do come in all shapes and sizes, they are all scored on five criteria: distance, durability, design, creativity and edibility.

Edibility can be one of the challenging factors for students, especially when they forget to take into account flavor combinations. For this reason, Hale provides water to students as they chomp down on their edible cars.

This year the first place vehicle rolled down the starting ramp and travelled an additional 36 inches. BAE students Ben Branzelle, Zach Drach, Khalid Sturdivant and Benjamin Tan fashioned their vehicle out of cucumbers, pretzel rods, hot dogs and marshmallows.

In the coming years, students may go on to take another class offered in the department where they are challenged to build a robotic vehicle. While they can use the skills they learned building their edible vehicles, it will definitely not be as tasty.

You Decide: What Determines County Jobless Rates? Fri, 28 Apr 2017 12:36:09 +0000 By Dr. Mike Walden

The unemployment rate is one of the most closely tracked of economic statistics. There are two reasons for this. First, unemployment rates for the nation, state and local areas (counties, metropolitan regions) are released each month and with a rather short lag – so the information is reasonably up-to-date.

Second, an unemployment rate, unlike many economic measures, is relatively easy to understand. It’s the percentage of the adult workforce actively looking for a job.

In any given month in North Carolina the unemployment rate varies by a wide margin among our 100 counties. For example, in February of this year, the jobless rate ranged from a low of 4.1 percent in Alexander and Orange Counties to a high of 15.3 percent in Hyde County.

What’s behind this big difference? At the top of the list is education. Our economy has significantly changed in recent decades. My late father was able to have a successful career and raise a family from the late 1940s to the early 1980s without even a high school degree. His experience is increasingly hard to replicate today.   

This is because the nature of work has changed. Jobs requiring physical strength (like my father did) are now being done by machines and technology. More and more human work today requires cognitive skills learned in school, which often means the worker needs a college degree. Even if the job doesn’t match the individual’s college major, often employers interpret a person with any college degree to have the ability to learn and be productive.

The percentage of adults (age 25 and over) with college degrees varies widely among the state’s counties, from a low of 8 percent to a high of 56 percent.

Employers not only prefer workers who are trained in needed skills, but they also want workers who won’t cost them with higher health care expenditures or greater absenteeism. Two potential measures of these issues – obesity levels and serious alcohol and drug usage – vary significantly across the state’s counties.

Of course, job growth is logically tied to population growth. The more people living in a county, the greater the need for jobs to provide the products and services used by those folks. While several North Carolina counties have had population growth since 2010 approaching 10 percent, over one-third of the state’s counties have actually lost population in recent years.   

Last, the economic prospects of industries are different. At any time, some industries may be growing and adding jobs while others are declining and cutting jobs. Therefore, in analyzing the differences in unemployment rates among counties, it is important to recognize the differences in the industrial makeup of the counties.

To disentangle the effects of these various factors on county unemployment rates, I performed statistical tests of the impacts of measures of the factors on recent North Carolina county jobless rates. For educational attainment, I used the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher. County obesity levels and the percentage of the county population being treated in alcohol and drug centers were used to capture personal characteristics that might deter business hiring. Population growth was measured since 2010. The percentage of total county business earnings in key economic sectors controlled for differences in the industrial mix of the counties.

The statistical results were exactly as predicted.  On average, every additional percentage point in the adult population with a bachelor’s degree or more is associated with a 0.05 percentage point lower unemployment rate. Every additional percentage point in county adults classified as obese is related to a 0.1 percentage point higher jobless rate. Every additional percentage point in county individuals being cared for at alcohol and drug treatment centers correlates with an amazing 5 percentage point higher county unemployment rate!

Counties with faster population growth were also found to have lower jobless rates.   Specifically, a one percentage point higher population growth rate during the last five years relates to a 0.07 percentage point lower county unemployment rate.

Regarding economic structure, counties with a higher concentration of manufacturing activity were found to have lower jobless rates. This is probably because manufacturing has enjoyed a strong rebound since the end of the Great Recession.

So what are the conclusions from this analysis of county unemployment rates? First, today’s job market values education. One of the challenges for high-unemployment counties is losing their best and brightest to the state’s big cities.  

Second, the results are consistent with businesses preferring a fitter and “cleaner” workforce.  Anything job-challenged counties can do to reduce obesity and addictions among their workforce can help in job recruitment.

Last, population growth matters. Over one-third of our state’s counties are losing population. It’s difficult to increase jobs and lower unemployment in this situation.

Can we reduce the spread between our county jobless rates? Or, are such differences inevitable and a “fact of economic life” we have to live with? You decide.

Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook, and public policy.

What Should Elephants Eat? Thu, 27 Apr 2017 01:30:10 +0000 Every six weeks, animal science graduate student Jordan Wood’s research requires a trip to the zoo.

The project: understand how tree species native to North Carolina could be used to supplement the diet of the North Carolina Zoo’s African elephants.

“Nutrition is like a big puzzle,” Wood said. “Each piece of the diet and each nutrient fits together with other pieces to create one diet that influences the well-being of the animal.”

In a nutshell, the project seeks to understand the current balance of pellets and “browse” (vegetation from the animal’s environment) in the elephants’ diet and tinker with possible improvements. The goal is to figure out a healthy way to increase the quantity of vegetation eaten by elephants following a decrease of specially formulated pellets, ensuring elephants are at a healthy weight without sacrificing nutrition.

As the project progresses, Wood and faculty advisor Kimberly Ange-van Heugten are also compiling nutrient profiles of commonly used browse species for use of zoos across the climate region — data that doesn’t currently exist.

“There are databases available for zoo diet formulations, but nutrient levels in browse can vary by region and by season,” Wood said. Many of these formulations use browse samples from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, for example – located in Orlando, Florida, a very different climate with very different vegetation than the North Carolina region.

By the end of the project, researchers will have compiled a database of regional browse species and nutrient profiles during all four seasons. This information could also prove valuable to zoos from South Carolina to Washington, D.C.

Wood presented a poster on the project at the Graduate Student Research Symposium at the McKimmon Center on March 22. She and Ange-van Heugten, in collaboration with zoo staff, hope to publish a paper with some of their findings in the fall. The results will be useful for enhancing the physical and mental health of elephants as well as other browse-consuming species in the region, like rhinos and giraffes.

Finding a Path Through Animal Science

This wasn’t always Wood’s path. As an animal science major at CALS, her original goal was veterinary school. Then her undergraduate experience taught her that she preferred teaching and research, and she found nutrition a fascinating way to continue helping animals.

Ange-van Heugten knew Wood’s passion for nutrition and interest in exotic animals, so when the North Carolina Zoo’s veterinarian Dr. Jb Minter and NC State adjunct faculty member and consulting nutritionist Dr. Liz Koutsos approached her about digging into the diet of the African elephant, she contacted Wood right away. Wood applied to the graduate program, and jumped right in as a graduate research assistant as soon as the acceptance letter hit her inbox.

Much of Wood’s day-to-day work in the laboratory is in front of a computer, examining diet formulations and nutrient analyses or finding existing research for her literature review. She enters sample collection data and monitors elephant weights.

And then there’s the fun part: visiting the elephants.

Every six weeks for the past year, Wood has driven to Asheboro to spend four days working with the elephant keepers and collecting feed samples. Wood weighs all the browse that is cut and fed to the six elephants and collects samples of each species the day it’s cut. These samples are then frozen to avoid extreme nutrient degradation. The next morning, she weighs the leftover browse to get an idea of how much the elephants eat.

Then it’s back to the lab for a week or two. This part of the process is meticulous: The samples must be weighed wet, then placed in a drying oven for at least 48 hours, weighed again, chopped into tiny pieces and finally run through a grinding mill. After that, she weighs them one last time and ships them to various labs for nutrient analysis.

She loves the work, Wood said, and credits Ange-van Heugten with helping her find her path.

“Getting into this kind of research was a little of what I knew, a lot of passion and by and far who I knew,” Wood said.

Extension Clinic Helps Beekeepers Protect Their Colonies Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:01:48 +0000 As news continues to grow about problems faced by honey bees, NC State Extension is using the latest science to help beekeepers assess one of the most important factors in their colonies’ success — the health of their queens.

Dr. David Tarpy, a researcher and the state’s Extension apiculturist, set up North Carolina State University’s Queen & Disease Clinic a few years ago as part of a large, U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project called the Bee Informed Partnership.

When beekeepers send their queens to the clinic, they get back grades on their health – A is best, of course, and F is worst. The keepers also can get research-based recommendations on what they might do to improve their colonies.

“A lot of our research at NC State involves the queens and honey bee genetics, and the clinic harnesses the power of this research,” said Tarpy, who works in NC State’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. “Because there’s only one queen per colony, and she provides the only source of genetics, anything you can do to improve her will go a long way to improve the colony.”

Research-Based Analysis

The clinic uses some of the most advanced scientific tools and techniques available to measure factors that research shows are important to queen health, he explained. Beekeepers pay for the service, and they get back scores related to size, presence of diseases, the number of mates by the queen, and how much sperm she’s stored from those mates.

Two research technicians looking at a microscope.
Hannah Levenson and Erin McDermott examine a queen bee in the Queen & Disease Clinic.

“The bigger they are, the better. The less disease they have, the better,” Tarpy said. “The more times they mate and the more sperm from their mates, the more eggs they can lay, the longer they’ll live, the better they are. We measure all these things in various ways and provide a composite score and then we break it down by each of these categories, as well.”

The information that the clinic provides is particularly important to large-scale apiculturists who produce queens for other beekeepers. “These are key nodes in the industry that are responsible for the genetic stock for tens of thousands of colonies,” Tarpy said. “If we can serve them, we can make a real impact overall.”

He hopes that smaller-scale queen breeders — he calls them “microbreeders” — will begin using the clinic, as well.

“Rather than producing tens of thousands of queens, the microbreeders produce maybe a few hundred or a few thousand a year. The demand for queens, though, is so much bigger than the supply, so there’s good reason to try to foster a local community of microbreeders,” Tarpy said.

Among those smaller-scale breeders is Rick Coor, of Spring Bank Bee Farm near Goldsboro. He said that as problems with parasitic mites such as the varroa mite have risen, so has the relevance of the Queen & Disease Clinic.

Because the clinic can screen for diseases and for the presence of mites, he said, it can provide clues as to which colonies provide the best genetic stock for disease resistance.

Coor is president of the state beekeepers association, which has grown dramatically from about 680 members in 2002 to 4,200 last year.

The Knowledgeable Authority

“Along with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (and Consumer Services), NC State’s Apiculture Program is the knowledgeable authority, and their judgment is relied on for guidance by beekeepers from all walks of life,” he said.

In addition to the Queen & Disease Clinic, the Extension component of the Apiculture Program also offers online courses for novice and expert beekeepers. These courses are available through the Beekeeper Education & Engagement System, or BEES.

BEES and the Queen & Disease Clinic are important, Tarpy noted, because of what’s become increasingly widespread knowledge — honey bees and other insects pollinate around 35 percent of the world’s food crops. And many of those crops are what Tarpy called “the fun stuff, the healthy stuff”: the fruits, vegetables and nuts that contribute to a healthy diet.

AgPack Strong: On the Path to Success Tue, 25 Apr 2017 14:53:58 +0000 Donavan Battle discovered a passion for horticulture and business while running his own lawn-care operation in high school. That led him to NC State’s Agricultural Institute, where, in a quick two years, he earned his associate’s degree.

While studying in the Ag Institute, he received the Tom and Nancy Bland Scholarship, the John Elwood Scott Scholarship and the Altria Agricultural Institute Scholarship.

Today, as Battle pursues a bachelor’s degree in horticultural science at NC State, he says collaboration, communication and hard work are key to success.

What led you to the Ag Institute at NC State?

I was in high school while accomplishing outdoor management skills such as mowing and communicating with clients. I maintained lawns for personal revenue. However, I did not have an official business. I realized I enjoyed this work, but needed more of an education. Pursing an associate degree at North Carolina State University was my choice to educate myself with business practices and the essential landscaping procedures, which led me to the Ag Institute.

How would you describe your experience in AGI?

My experience in AGI was at a brisk pace. While studying ornamentals and landscapes, I learned that I pay particular attention to detail and enjoy expressing myself. Collaboration with students and faculty of various levels of educational experience and pursuit gave me an intuitive sense for future potential. Slowing down to capture memories (which can be viewed here) was almost as important as earning the degree. Advancing my studies toward a bachelor’s degree in horticulture science with a concentration in landscape design is my current endeavor. For independent interest, I have expanded dedication toward greenhouse, conservatory and outdoor display areas.

How did your experience in AGI help prepare you for your future?

During my AGI experience, access to industry information has helped prepare me for the future. This information was obtained by being consistent in communicating with Adviser and Coordinator of Horticultural Science Management Lee Ivy.

What do you think is the best thing about AGI?

The best thing about AGI is there is a great chance of potential when students and faculty compromise and work together.

What advice would you give a student who’s just about to start in AGI?

Amongst all of the stressful moments of trying to manage life and a college workload, remember you are only putting yourself through this test to see how the [agricultural] industry grades your level of understanding. Remind yourself of what led your curiosity down this path. Understand as you are stressed, oftentimes your professor is feeling the same pressure. We all are a team in this institution, no matter what level of education, nor background status. Do not expect industry professionals to answer all questions. This is a competitive industry. If your questions are not answered, assist yourself by engaging in an internship specified to your curiosity toward certain trades, topics and methods. “Think and Do.” Furthermore, welcome to the PACK.

You can make a difference for students like Donavan. Give today!

 Make a Gift

Economic Perspective: Higher Housing Costs in Cities Mon, 24 Apr 2017 20:45:09 +0000


“Today’s program looks at higher housing costs in cities. Mike, there are complaints in many cities, including in North Carolina, of dramatically rising housing prices; both for owning and for renting. What’s the cause, and what, if anything, can be done about it?”


“Well I think the root cause is that in this modern era, the technological age, cities have become even more popular places to live. One reason sort of being that’s where the universities are. That’s often where the new tech sector jobs, for example. That’s where the young people come. They get educated. They stay there. They like the amenities that cities have.

“Young people today don’t necessarily want to buy a house on a third of an acre. They’d just as soon live in high rises, and so we’re seeing more people moving to cities. You have what economists call a ‘big increase in demand’, and we’re not seeing a commensurate increase in supply of new housing.”

“There is building that goes on, but obviously if prices are going up the supply isn’t going up as fast as the demand. So what do you do?”

“Well, some cities have said, ‘Let’s limit the number of people coming into our city.’ Some have actually talked about that. Some areas have talked about that. That’s very, very hard to do. Others have said, ‘Well let’s limit the number of new building that goes on.’ That will actually make the problem worse because it’s really a supply problem.”

“A third approach some say is price controls, rent controls. Studies have shown that that actually reduces supply and make quality deteriorate. So many economists say that ultimately if you want to address this problem from the supply side, you have to increase the supply of housing; which is not easy because new housing impacts the environment, it impacts the quality of life and it impacts the aesthetics of the city.”

“So this is an issue I don’t think that’s going to go away. As long as cities are popular we’re going to see this issue of rising prices and rising rents in cities continue.”

Animal Science Partnership Nabs National Symposium Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:05:24 +0000 Attracting a prestigious national event to campus takes hard work and months or more of preparation — and the Department of Animal Science and the College of Veterinary Medicine did it again in March, partnering to woo the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (APVMA) Symposium back to campus for the fifth time.

About 600 pre-veterinary students and 30 advisors from 77 colleges and universities across the United States attended, traveling from as far away as Oregon and Puerto Rico to engage in hands-on labs and lectures on current veterinary topics. Even more livestreamed the lectures from locations as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska, and Guelph, Canada.

“The energy was alive throughout the day,” said symposium chair Shweta Trivedi, who is a teaching associate professor in the Department of Animal Science and director of the Veterinary Professions Advising Center.

The annual event is designed to expose pre-veterinary students to the diversity of the profession and provide networking opportunities. Representatives from various local and international colleges of veterinary medicine attended the symposium to familiarize students with their schools and educate students of career opportunities within veterinary medicine.

Planning for this year’s symposium began as soon as the 2016 event hosted by Purdue University ended. It was at that event that animal science major Alexandra Fitton and biological sciences major Christy Pujianto presented NC State’s winning bid to host the 2017 event. The two served as co-chairs of the 2017 APVMA planning committee. The event gave students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and network with faculty and professionals from around the world. Over 100 other undergraduate and DVM students volunteered to facilitate.

With lectures and labs led by experts in the field, students were exposed to common practices and advanced techniques in the veterinary profession. Among the CALS representatives were William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Billy Flowers, who instructed students on piglet care and jugular blood draws, and Professor of Animal Science Vivek Fellner, who presented a lecture on bovine nutrition and diseases.

Other speakers included New York Times bestselling author and Dognition founder Brian Hare, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Chief Veterinarian Dan Dombrowski and other experts in small animal, exotic animal, lab animal, food animal, wildlife and conservation, military and academic areas of veterinary medicine.

“CALS and CVM worked together to make this happen, through the leadership of VetPAC,” said Trivedi. “I am extremely proud of the pre-vet students and our two colleges who helped make it a reality.”

10 Ways to Survive Dead Week Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:02:39 +0000 Congrats! You’ve made it to Dead Week. Which means you’re thiiiiis close to finishing the school year. But is also means that you have to survive a week, that, by design, will leave you feeling less-than-alive.

So as you scramble to wrap up projects, start studying for exams, and oh yeah, go to the last five days of classes, we have a little advice for you:

1. Stock up on brain food. Fruits, veggies, healthy carbs, protein bars. Stuff that’s good for you and travels (to the library) well. And be sure to hydrate, especially if you’re pulling an all-nighter. Drink water with your coffee. Stay healthy while staying up!


2. But definitely allow yourself a midnight run (or two) to Cook Out. Especially if you’ve skipped dinner (and lunch and breakfast) by accident.


3. If you haven’t already booked your library study rooms, do it now! Both D.H. Hill and Hunt libraries accept reservations online. Don’t get stuck without a quiet space to study, especially if you’re working with a group.

NC State library study room

4. While you burn the midnight oil at the library, keep an eye on your personal items so they don’t grow legs and walk away.

student on yellow stairs at Hunt Library

5. And stay safe outside the library too. Brain fog can be a powerful force to reckon with. Always be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk alone at night and take advantage of the Safety Escort Service offered by campus police. They’ll also come to the rescue if you lock yourself out of your car.

Talley Student Center at night

6. Pay a visit to the the Strolling Professor and rub his head the night before your first exam for good luck. He’s located just behind Patterson Hall on central campus.

NC State student with Strolling Professor statue

7. Blow off some steam! The Union Activities Board hosts Dead Week events and activities, including the Last Day of Classes Festival and Wolfstock concert.

student celebration on Harris Field

8. Try to get as much sleep as you can during Dead Week. Consecutive hours of sleep will restore your body, fuel your brain and help ensure you’re not that kid who falls asleep on the Wolfline bus and ends up all over Snapchat.

student sleeping on bus

9. Get some air — and a little exercise. Take a break from the books for a stroll on campus, around your block or through the JC Raulston Arboretum (which has free parking and a bus stop nearby). The Arb is in full bloom right now, and all that fresh air is sure to do you good. Or, head to the gym to get your blood flowing. All facilities will operate under normal hours through final exam week.

Front gate of JC Raulston Arboretum

10. Don’t forget — the end is in sight! You’re going to survive Dead Week and exams — and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to the beach or home or wherever your next adventure takes you. Deep breaths. You got this!

students celebrating by belltower

Student Spotlight: Hall Aspires to Lend a Hand for N.C. Agriculture Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:05:08 +0000

Written by Kaki Carl, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

Lane Michael Hall knows what he want to do and is busy getting it done. A junior in NC State University’s soil science program, Lane came to NC State as a transfer student from a community college. He’s a member of the NC State Agronomy Club, Young Farmers and Ranchers Club, and the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited. He also received the Marion and Jane Dilday Scholarship, which is based on academic merit.

Just a few moments in conversation confirms he is a man of the soil.

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to farm,” he said. “I was born and raised in Clinton, in Sampson County. My family has not been in the farm business, but I’ve worked for a couple of family farms in the area. My girlfriend’s family farms, so I’ve been all around it, helping out.”

Why did you choose NC State?

I wanted to go into agronomy. I figured that’s the closest thing I could get to “farming” as a degree! The agronomy degree is no longer offered, so the soil science program [in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences] seemed to be the one that made the most sense to me. Soil is the basis of agronomy; without a healthy soil you can’t do anything in crop science, so that that was a big key to me.”

What opportunities have you found?

I did an internship last summer with Smithfield Agronomics. Their agronomics program builds on sustainable ag practices for their farmers to grow grain while reducing their carbon footprint. That was a really eye-opening experience to see those ag practices implemented! That got my interest up, and a career goal spun off of that.

How are you working toward that?

This summer I have an internship lined up with Helena Chemicals – a sales internship. It’ll get my feet wet with another aspect of my goals. What I understand is I’ll be on the east coast somewhere. I’m looking forward to finding out where I’ll be placed.

What’s it like to be part of the NC State Wolfpack?

I love the home feel. Everybody’s for the same goal. It’s nice to see that unity within the student body.

Your goals after graduation?

I’d like to become an agronomist, or a sales rep for a company and consult as I sell chemicals, or feed and fertilizer, and be able to make knowledgeable recommendations; not necessarily just for production, but make a conservation effort in retention of fertilizer, and less runoff while maximizing potential for yields.

What specific issues would you like to address?

Erosion. Nutrient availability for crops. Nutrient retention, and nutrient recycling with cover crops. Big fan of that stuff.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

North Carolina. I’d like to keep it in North Carolina agriculture and be a helping hand, making it better here.