A heart for animals and agriculture

by | Jul 6, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Lisa Preslar, Animal Health Technician with our Veterinary 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!

A passion for animals is almost an essential element of being a part of the N.C. Agriculture industry. Lisa Preslar, Animal Health Technician with our Veterinary Division, grew up on a farm where she fell in love with agriculture and poultry. “My family grew tobacco and kept a large garden in addition to raising breeder chickens,” she said. “Obtaining a love for this industry, as well as the animals, was pretty much fate after that!”

During high school, Lisa worked on the family farm, mostly in the chicken houses because that was her true passion. “I spent time with our farm supervisor at the time who taught me a lot about poultry health and care,” she said, “and I was always fascinated by everything he told me.” She attended N.C. State University where she obtained a degree in Poultry Science and the journey toward her future in animal agriculture took off.

After working for a farm at N.C. State in college, Lisa had the experience she needed to take on a job as a Breeder Flock Supervisor at Townsend Farms in Siler City. “I learned a lot during my 20 years of work at that farm that has helped me succeed in my current position with the NCDA&CS,” she said. When Townsend Farms closed its operations in 2011, Lisa applied to become an Animal Health Tech with our Veterinary Division. “I knew it was something that I would enjoy and be good at, so I took a chance and applied,” she said. “It was the right decision for me because I love my position and the people that I work with.”

Lisa travels a lot throughout the year in her position as an Animal Health Tech. “I work with many backyard producers as well as commercial poultry to test their chickens for a variety of things, including avian influenza and salmonella,” she said. In addition, she is responsible for managing the NPIP program (National Poultry Improvement Plan), attending training days and classes, inspecting birds for various agricultural events across the state and helping with emergency management when necessary. “Our team is responsible for inspecting the birds that are shown at events across the state, including the N.C. State Fair,” she said. “We have to check them for a variety of illnesses to ensure nothing will be spread at the show that will make the other animals sick.” She really enjoys working at these events because she gets to network with other industry professionals.

When emergency situations arise, such as Avian Influenza, snow or hurricanes, Lisa and her team are the first line of defense for farmers and agriculture industry producers. “It’s really hard during these times to see and hear how much these farmers loose,” Lisa said, “but knowing that we have a hand in helping them repair and rebuild their operations by getting them the assistance that they need is a huge source of pride.” From talking with producers and growers to determining their needs and assisting in applying for grants to educating employees on how to properly handle emergency response, our Veterinary team does everything they can in these challenging situations to help our industry overcome, persevere and come out stronger.

Although situations like these can be challenging, Lisa takes a lot of pride in the work that she does every day and truly enjoys travelling across the state, meeting with various livestock producers and helping them manage their operations. “These people truly become friends the longer I work with them,” she said, “and it brings me great joy to know that I can help them succeed in the thing that they love to do, which is farming.” Not only do Lisa and her team help producers with on-site damages to poultry houses and farms, but they also guide producers through the grant application process where funds are available and needed.

Our Veterinary team is vitally important to the overall food supply and consumer safety because without them diseases could not be properly handled and eradicated. “If these types of things were ever out of control, it could cause a major shortage in the supply of poultry products across the state,” she said, “so that is why ensuring bird health and safety is always our top priority.”

Outside the office, Lisa can be found camping with her friends or enjoying an afternoon in the garden. “I grow a variety of vegetables,” she said, “and it brings me a lot of joy to watch them grow from seed to produce.” Join us in thanking Lisa for all of her hard work with poultry producers across the state!