The following blog is a guest post provided by Kali Kasulis, a Senior in Veterinary BioScience at the University of Mount Olive. Kasulis is also president of the UMO Animal Science Club and vice president of UMO Collegiate FFA.
While attending the University of Mount Olive, Kasulis has had the opportunity to work at Cherry Farm as a part-time employee. “During my experience at Cherry, I have milked cows, used equipment, and cared for many animals,” she said. “This experience has opened many doors and opportunities for me. Not only have I learned skills that will benefit my future career as a veterinarian, but I have also been able to learn personal skills that will carry me through my adult life.”
The article is part of a series of blogs provided by UMO students.
North Carolina agriculture is very diverse. This is evident on the 18 state-owned research farms that are found across the state. North Carolina is home to the Cherry Research Farm, which was a part of Cherry Hospital. Both Cherry Hospital and the Research farm reside in Wayne County, just outside of Goldsboro.
The farm’s original purpose was to produce food for the hospital. Over time, the therapeutic value of patients working with the livestock and crops was realized and patients were utilized as workers on the farm.
The hospital eventually began purchasing food products from wholesale distributors, and the farm was used for production agriculture. The farm was transferred from the Department of Health & Human Services to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture in 1974 and became one of several state farms used for research purposes.
Cherry Research Farm was transferred to the research stations in the mid-1980’s,” said long-time station employe Ivy Lanier. In 1994, a partnership between Cherry and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems group organized the first field research, which initiated the Education and Outreach Facility.” As many as 40 research projects, 22 project leaders, and 20 graduate students can be working on Cherry’s research facilities during the busy growing season. The farm also hosts a pasture-based dairy, beef cattle, cotton, corn grain, corn silage, soybeans, grain sorghum, and numerous organic crops. “The research program continues to build stronger and better,” said Lanier.
Lanier has worked at Cherry for almost 25 years. He started as what is classified today is an Agricultural Research Technician and remained in that position for ten years. “I have planted, sprayed, harvested, fertilized crops, and worked on all the units as needed in this position. I was later promoted to Research Operations Manager for the Agronomic unit and was in that role for about 12 years,” said Lanier. “This role allowed me to move more into supervising and managing the agronomic unit’s day-to-day activities, which consisted of crop plans, research project approval, purchasing of supplies and equipment, and other opportunities.”
Lanier has been the Assistant Superintendent of the station for two years. In this new role, Lanier oversees the day-to-day operation of the station, such as project planning and approval, making sure each unit has what they need to operate, safety, purchasing supplies and equipment. Lanier went on to say, “my position allows the superintendent to focus on other needs that will benefit the station.”
Cherry Farm is currently milking about 90 cows and usually tops out milking at about 155. “We are currently in the midst of calving season, which is why the numbers are down a little,” said Lanier. “There are about 60 replacement heifers, 80 cow pairs, two bulls, and about 30 replacement heifers on the farm.” Milk that is produced from the dairy cows is sold to Dairy Farmer of America, where it is distributed to numerous retailers.
Most of the crops raised on the farm are sold at the end of the season. The corn silage produced on the farm is used for the dairy and beef herds, while grains such as corn and soybeans are sold locally and generally used for animal feed in the local swine and poultry industries. The cotton grown at Cherry is marketed and sold through a cotton cooperative.
Research plots are quite different from the crops units on the farm. Depending on the nature of the research, some of the crops must be destroyed at the end of their projects.
There are job and career opportunities for individuals interested in agriculture at Cherry Farm and other research stations. There are opportunities in dairy production, row crops, horticulture, and beef. The requirements for employment positions vary from those that do not require a degree or experience, to a two-year associate degree, to a four-year bachelor’s degree in an agricultural field.
For more information on Cherry Research Farm visit: https://www.ncagr.gov/research/cherry.htm