Managing a legacy in the agriculture industry

by | Feb 23, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Denise Rucker, Warehouse Supervisor for 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!

Denise Rucker, Warehouse Supervisor for the new Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center, is not only dedicated to her job but absolutely loves it!

Growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia, Denise wasn’t always immersed in the agriculture industry but discovered her passion for it upon moving to North Carolina. “I had a friend that lived in North Carolina at the time and always told me how incredible it was to work for the Department of Agriculture,” she said, “so, when I moved here, I knew exactly where I was going to apply for a job.”

Denise started with the NCDA&CS in 1995 working with glassware in the chemistry section before moving to the lab. “Working in the lab was an amazing experience because most of the plants, fruits, vegetables and other items that we worked with were things that I had never seen or heard of before,” Denise said. “It was a valuable learning experience that helped me learn more about the hard work done in this part of the department and prepared me for my current role.”

Today, Denise is the Warehouse Supervisor of the new Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center, which means that she manages and supervises everything that comes into and exits the building for all four divisions. The Agricultural Sciences Center is home to the NCDA&CS Pesticide Division, Vet Division, Standards Division and Food & Drug Protection Division, so as you can imagine, Denise stays very busy managing the warehouse. “Each morning I start the day by receiving items from our carriers,” she said. “They bring in the samples and I have to make sure that everything matches up with the transcript numbers, description, etc. before sending it to the appropriate lab.”

Throughout the day, she has many trucks that enter and exit, sometimes up to five times a day, delivering samples, equipment and other materials for the lab. “We have a variety of things to come in,” she said, “so each day presents the opportunity for me to meet and work with a wide array of individuals.”

The most important part of her job is to oversee the chain of command and ensure each product is received and distributed properly. “The chain of command is extremely important because we have four divisions and over 200 employees in this building,” Denise said, “so we have to make sure that each person gets their supplies and that it goes to the correct lab. Everything comes into this building with an EP number or P-Card that I verify with the paperwork sent to me by each lab. From there, I log it in my record book and send it forward.”

When damaged items enter the warehouse, Denise is also responsible for inspecting them and making the decision whether to accept or reject the items. Paperwork and records are maintained for each item that comes into the building, whether damaged or not.

“I have been in this building since January of 2021 and it has been a real honor and pleasure to work here,” she said. “I have a larger space to work and have gotten to know many of my colleagues in a way that wasn’t possible in the previous space.”

Although learning people’s names can be a real challenge when working with over 200 employees, Denise wouldn’t trade anything in the world for the pride and joy she feels in helping so many individuals across the agriculture industry. “I get to meet a lot of people both inside and outside this building,” she said. “Even some of the drivers are like family to me now. I take a lot of pride in helping them make sure they have what they need when entering and exiting this building as well as ensuring that the employees of the lab are satisfied with what they receive.”

According to her colleagues, Denise is known to make anyone smile when they are having a rough day. She presents a positive attitude to all that come into contact with her and treats individuals both inside and outside the building with respect.

When she is not working, Denise loves to sew, watch football, work part-time at Cabellas and dream of one day attending the Kentucky Derby. “I’ve sown bridesmaid dresses, suits, school uniforms and more,” she said, “It brings me a lot of peace but I also love new experiences and meeting new people through my part-time work and travel.”

Join us in thanking Denise for her hard work and dedication to the industry at the new Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center!