We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. John Hammond, International Marketing Specialist with our Marketing Division, 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!
John Hammond, International Marketing Specialist, is a jack of all trades in the department, but is known for his love of agriculture and desire to help others.
As a kid, John loved the outdoors and remembers helping his family in the garden on many occasions. “We grew a lot of our own produce and my grandparents canned just about everything,” he said, “so even though I didn’t grow up on a farm, I’ve always been immersed in nature, the outdoors and taught the value of growing your own food.”
While attending college at N.C. State University, John decided that he wanted to make his passion for agriculture a lifelong pursuit. After obtaining a degree in horticulture, he worked in various other roles before joining the department in 2012 as a horticulture marketing specialist.
“I started out in horticulture by networking with and promoting Christmas tree growers, nursery operators, honey producers and sod farms across the state,” he said. He really enjoyed getting to know these individuals and helping them promote their business and products. In fact, he still remains in contact with many of them today. “Many have become lifelong friends,” he said. “I still call just to check in on how things are going with the farm and with their families. It’s about relationship and I’m proud to be a part of that journey.”
In 2014, a position within International Marketing became available to help tree growers and plant nurseries ship their products overseas. “I am also a certified arborist, which means that I have vast knowledge on the different wood types in North Carolina, why they are beneficial, etc.,” John said, “so when this position became available, I was a natural fit for the role.”
On a daily basis, John can be found doing just about anything to help people across the agriculture industry and within the department. “No day is the same for me,” he said. “Somedays I can be found reaching out to buyers, getting industry updates and monitoring international market trends, but other days I am helping domestic marketing with special projects, which often includes partnerships with N.C. State University and N.C. Grange, associations, or working with the wine, beer and spirit producers across the industry to market their products to consumers.”
In previous years, N.C. beer, wine and spirits were split between three marketing individuals in the department. However, John has picked up all three overtime in his current role and greatly enjoys working with them on a regular basis. “The base ingredients used in most of these drinks are agriculture based, like grapes, wheat, corn and hops,” John said. “Our beverage producers are very creative individuals and a fundamental part of our state’s agricultural industry.” In fact, next year, John will be working with the N.C. Spiritous Liquor Advisory Counsel to help open up more opportunities and create initiatives for members across the state to grow and expand their markets.
Working in international marketing has given John the opportunity to travel overseas many times, including to his favorite location, Guadalajara, Mexico. “The food in that part of the country is absolutely amazing and very fresh,” he said, “but one thing I have learned in my overseas travels is that most of those individuals are exactly like us in America. They all have a story and are simply seeking to better their families and create a quality life for them.”
Although he loves every part of his job, John is most proud of the connections that he has made across all corners of the industry and the opportunities he has been a part of to help them through challenging situations. “That is one of the best things about working for this department,” he said, “everyone here is so dedicated to helping our agriculture producers and farmers with business support, emergency response or whatever else it takes. We are all willing to lend a hand, whether that is in sharing resources, promoting brand awareness, protecting consumers or helping to tell someone’s story. I am incredibly proud to have a hand in that and be a part of this amazing industry.”
When he is not at work, John can be found playing bass guitar in his church praise band, leading the youth worship team or enjoying family time at home with his wife, kids and Boykin Spaniel, Lilly. Join us in thanking John for his dedication and hard work!