We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Brenda Jackson, Complex Manager of the Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!
As Complex Manager of the new Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center, Brenda Jackson has played a major role in the largest building project ever undertaken by the NCDA&CS. Although her career did not start out within the agriculture industry, Brenda has served in a variety of roles and taken on a plethora of projects throughout her 15 years with the department.
Brenda first fell in love with the south while attending Virginia Tech University. While there, she obtained a degree in Chemistry and met a southern boy who led her to Raleigh. “In 2007, I took my first job with the department of agriculture as a Quality Assurance Specialist, aka Chemist, in the Food and Drug Protection Division,” she said. “I spent many years in that division and worked in a variety of roles, including Quality Systems Manager, before taking my current role with the Agricultural Sciences Center (ASC).”
The Agricultural Sciences Center is the first building of its kind and is home to over 200 employees within the Food and Drug Protection Division, Standards Division, Structural Pest Control and Pesticides Division, and Veterinary Division.
When the ASC project initially began, Brenda became Complex Manager in July of 2020 when the former manager retired. “As a quality manager you get to know all the functions of your divisions,” she said, “and while I was serving as interim manager, I gained a wider appreciation and perspective of all the divisions within the ASC that has helped me become a better overall Complex Manager today.”
As the project of building the ASC has grown and evolved, so has Brenda’s job responsibilities. During the building phase, she was responsible for items such as budgeting, verifying gas and electrical for each piece of equipment that would be moved into the center and finalizing the organization chart. However, her role has changed dramatically in the last six months with the opening of the ASC. “We are still getting used to this beautiful building, which means a lot of things fall on my plate,” she said. “My biggest priority is to ensure that we have a facility to support high-quality operations across all the divisions, which means that all issues need to be resolved quickly, including maintenance issues, inventory organization, operation process efficiency, and an accurate budget for the ASC.”
In addition, she is involved with building tours on an as-needed basis. “I want to make sure we give a good meeting experience to each individual that walks through these doors,” she said, “so we pull in a variety of employees from each division, including veterinarians, to talk about what they do here and why this building matters. Even though I have been here for 15 years, I learn something new on every tour, not only from the staff but also from the questions that visitors ask.”
Her favorite part of the new facility is the amount of natural light and quality of employee workspaces. “Coming from our old offices that were over 40 years old, our employees deserve to have this space that not only provides them with a larger area to work, but also gives a greater focus on mental health,” she said, “there is an area outside the labs where employees can fellowship and enjoy their lunch, the windows open to a beautiful view where employees can see outside and the work stations provide a much larger space where work can be done and team collaboration can be accomplished.” The variety of work and the constant opportunity to grow, learn and evolve are just a couple of the reasons that Brenda loves her job.
Although she takes pride in everything she does, two projects have stood out to Brenda in her career as noteworthy accomplishments not only for her, but the NCDA&CS team and N.C. agriculture industry. “During my time with the Food and Drug Division, the team obtained the ISO 17025 accreditation that allowed us to do more and better serve the community, so I was proud to be a part of the team that accomplished that goal,” she said, “and being Complex Manager for the ASC has been incredibly rewarding. Seeing it come to fruition and knowing that it is a building that will help further the agriculture industry 50 years from now creates a huge sense of pride.” The ASC is currently equipped with the newest technology and advancements that will ensure this building is a major landmark and operation center for the agriculture industry in years to come.
When she is not working at the ASC, Brenda enjoys spending time with her family exploring our state’s National parks, riding the jet ski at their second home in Nags Head or immersing herself in the latest history book. Join us in thanking Brenda for all of her hard work and be sure to stop by the ASC and learn about all the amazing work being done by our employees!