Fostering the Next Generation of N.C. Agriculture Leaders

by | Sep 10, 2021

Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers or agriculture industry workers. Ally Edwards, an Agriculture Science Teacher at North Johnston Middle School, is one of those industry leaders. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and from August to December will feature younger farmers in the industry. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!

The agriculture industry takes on many shapes and forms, including teaching and molding the next generation of industry professionals. Ally Edwards is an Agriculture Science teacher at North Johnston Middle School where she enjoys helping her kids see the importance of agriculture on a daily basis.

Growing up on a family farm in Wendell gave Ally a true appreciation for farming and N.C. agriculture. “I grew up on a fourth generation family farm that continues to grow tobacco, sweet potatoes, soybeans, wheat and corn,” she said, “I learned a lot of lessons, including how to appreciate agriculture, during my time on the farm but wanted to take that knowledge and further incorporate it in our next generation of leaders.”

During her time in high school, Ally was involved with FFA and 4H, which only helped mold her love for agriculture and led her to pursue an Ag Education major at N.C. State University, where she graduated from in 2019. “I decided in high school that I wanted to pursue a career in ag education because I had such great relationships with my own ag teachers,” Ally said, “and my time at N.C. State only furthered my passion and helped me develop lifelong friends in this industry.”

Ally’s entrance into the world of teaching agriculture has been anything but conventional due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working off a blended attendance model for over a year, half virtual and half in-person, teaching 135 kids has not been what Ally expected but she has loved it nonetheless. “Despite starting out my career in the middle of a global pandemic, I have truly loved every minute of my job and plan to stay in this field until I retire,” she said, “seeing the kids appreciate agriculture and being a positive light to them each day makes my job worth it.” She has recently moved back to fully in-person classes and is excited to experience that interaction with her students.

On a daily basis, Ally tends to a variety of tasks in addition to teaching, including lunch duty, parent meetings and lesson planning. She is also currently working to re-establish the FFA Chapter in her school next year! “My job is so important in today’s world because people are further and further removed from the farm,” Ally said, “ten out of my 135 kids this year have a background in agriculture, and with it being our state’s number one industry, we have an education gap that I get the honor of helping fill everyday.”

In the future, Ally hopes to establish some hands-on learning experiences for her kids, including a school garden and possibly class animals like chickens. “There’s a job for everyone in agriculture,” she said, “and I plan to spend my career teaching our future leaders to figure out what facet of agriculture is calling to them, pursue it and never let go.” In the past year, she has assigned various virtual projects to help students learn about different areas of agriculture, including how to approach a cow, egg dissection and making their own floral arrangements.

When she is not teaching or helping on the family farm, you can find Ally enjoying a brain break by scrolling through TikTok.