Brielle Wright, a senior agribusiness major at N.C. A&T State University, recently was selected to be one of 24 university juniors and seniors invited to attend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum in Virginia Feb. 24 and 25. Wright will join college students from other agriculture-related programs that were chosen based on their essays, “Agriculture as a Career.”
The honor is one of many accomplishments for the agribusiness major, but a career in agriculture was not always part of the plan. Wright was raised around farming. Her mother’s family raised hogs, grew tobacco and maintained a garden. Her father’s family has grown tobacco and strawberries, raised livestock and now sells organic crops. After seeing the hard work of farming first-hand, Wright thought of other career choices. “I was interested in communications,” she said. “until I went to IFAL the summer before my senior year.”
IFAL, or the Institute for Future Agricultural Leaders, is a summer leadership program for high school students sponsored by the N.C. Farm Bureau. Participating students have a chance to visit agricultural schools at N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University, go to research farms and tour agribusinesses. For Wright, the agribusiness tours opened her eyes to another side of agriculture. “Agriculture is more than farming. The industry is continuously growing, and there are always opportunities,” she said.
The opportunities for Wright to share her agricultural experience also have grown. Since starting at A&T, she has spoken at her hometown high school, attended conferences in Pennsylvania and Texas, and was part of the agriculture school’s first exchange trip to N.C. A&T’s partner school in Turkey. In 2010, Wright was chosen to serve as undergraduate student parliamentarian for Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).
Speaking in her hometown was a fond memory for Wright. Because of her visit, another student decided to pursue a career in agribusiness and is now a freshman at A&T. “It feels good to encourage others from my hometown,” she said. “Once they know it’s more than farming, and that it’s major corporations, their total perspective on ag changes.”
For high school students interested in agriculture, Wright encourages them to get involved in their local 4-H or FFA. “Students who get involved in those organizations know more about ag,” she said. “You can learn about community gardens and canning, and there are opportunities to attend sessions and marketing seminars to learn different things about agriculture.”
After graduation, Wright will participate in a co-op with biotechnology corporation Mansanto. She also is applying to graduate-level agribusiness and economics programs across the country. In the future, she says she would like to pursue a career in agribusiness, international ag business or ag economics. She also has considered grain science programs and resources. Wherever she ends up, she can expect a successful career in agriculture, because in her own words, “there are always opportunities.”