Fostering a love of farm animals to the next generation

by | Jul 20, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Wendy Lane, 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!

Growing up in agriculture instills a passion and love for the industry unlike any other. Wendy Lane, Animal Health Technician with our Veterinary Division, grew up immersed in the world of agriculture on her family’s farm and fell in love with the lifestyle almost immediately. “I was born into a farming family that grew tobacco and a variety of other row crops as well as raised cows and hogs,” she said. “Being born into the industry doesn’t leave you much choice on what you are going to spend your life doing because agriculture is one of those things that hooks you from the start and never let’s go.” Wendy has fond memories of working on the farm with her parents and grandparents. “I learned my work ethic and how to be successful in this industry from watching them,” she said, “but we also had a lot of fun on the farm together. In fact, one of my favorite things was shelling purple hull peas because it was fun to see who’s hand’s would turn the deepest shade of purple.”

Unlike most college students, Wendy was blessed enough to receive her dream job right out of college! “While I was in college, I met a livestock inspector in Virginia and I thought he had the coolest job ever,” Wendy said. “Then this position became available, and it was offered to me before I even graduated! I took it as soon as I was out of college and have been here ever since.” Thirty-two years later, Wendy is continuing to work hard and impact the industry with her passion for and dedication to her work.

Wendy was the very first female hired as an Animal Health Technician with our Veterinary Division. “I have seen the statistic of women in agriculture change a lot through my time with the department, but it is a huge source of pride for me that I was the first female ever to hold this position,” she said. “Every day I strive to do my best, be a good example and pave the way for more women in agriculture to come behind me and continue trailblazing in the industry.”

Our Veterinary Division staff serve as the liaisons between the animal agriculture industry and the NCDA&CS and the USDA. They are also responsible for promoting the livestock producers across our state and ensuring consumers are not only educated about their practices but also their products and why they should be supported. A typical day for Wendy is highly dependent on the time of year and events taking place across the state. “No two days in my position are the same,” she said. “Some days I am visiting stockyards or working with the feral swine task force and other days I am working with livestock at agriculture events across the state, including the Got To Be NC Festival, N.C. Mountain State Fair and the N.C. State Fair.”

Part of Wendy’s job is inspecting the livestock animals who come into each show to be shown at these events. “Each out-of-state animal must have an ICVI, Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, when they come to the event and then we have to do a visual inspection before they are allowed in,” she said. “This visual inspection looks for a variety of things in the animal, including the appearance of ringworm.” Her favorite part of the job, however, is when she gets to work with the kids who show their animals at these events.

Being in the industry for over 30 years, Wendy has seen many kids transition from class to class in the livestock competition arena, and she has even seen some grow up to now raise their own kids in the industry. “I love helping kids in competition because you see them light up and watch them grow,” she said. “I work with all ages of kids, from pee-wee to 21-years-old. It’s a huge source of pride for me because not only do they become like my adopted children, but they are the next generation of farmers, and we need to be investing in them to ensure the future of this industry.” One of the students that Wendy helped to show livestock growing up is now a co-worker of hers in the Veterinary Division! “That is why we do what we do,” she said, “to ensure the future and vitality of this incredible industry.”

Wendy has seen a lot throughout her time at the department that has changed and molded her into the agriculture ambassador that she is today. Travelling to various counties across the state with her job has given her a broad perspective of the needs of our state’s livestock industry. She has even worked on a variety of emergency events, including Avian Influenza and hurricane damage and response. “I believe that I have done my part and worked just as hard as my co-workers throughout my years with the department and I plan to do exactly that in the years to come,” she said. “I hope that I have set, and will continue to set, a good example for those coming up after me, especially young women, to know that they are equipped for this field and can make a difference.”

When she is not working, Wendy can be found enjoying any variety of activity outside in the beauty of our state, including fishing, hunting, gardening and working in the greenhouse. “My husband and I have a garden that we manage together, and I love to just be outside, away from the noise of the world and enjoy the peace and quiet of the beauty around me,” she said. Join us in thanking Wendy for all of her hard work in the livestock industry and paving the way for our next generation of agricultural leaders!