Next Gen Ag: Food and Agriculture are Science

by | Jan 10, 2024

Next Gen Ag is a year long series that will run on our In The Field blog, Facebook page, Instagram page and Twitter account. Each Wednesday, we will highlight a young person pursuing a career in the agriculture industry. Individuals can be in high school, college, or recent graduates who are working to establish a career in agriculture. Stay tuned each week to meet some of our industry’s future leaders!

Agriculture is so much more than growing and harvesting crops and raising livestock. Food Science is a big part of our state’s agriculture industry and an important part of the farm-to-table story. Alaina Brock, a current senior at North Carolina A&T State University, developed a passion for food science at a young age and has been pursuing a career in agriculture ever since.

As a child, Alaina remembers helping both sets of grandparents on the farm. “One side of the family grew soybeans and corn, and the other side raised pigs and had apple trees,” she said. “One of the first experiences that I can remember having in agriculture was on my grandparent’s farm picking pecans. Once we had picked enough, we took them inside, cracked them together and made gifts for neighbors and friends in the community. From that moment on, I have loved the agriculture industry and all that it represents.” Alaina’s aunt continues to farm on their family land and has added honeybees in recent years. Alaina is very proud of her for reviving the family farm and continuing to keep its legacy alive.

“In North Carolina, agriculture is very much a part of our identity,” she said. “It’s interwoven into who we are as a state. It’s how we keep communities up and running. It makes us who we are, and that’s why I am so passionate and proud to be pursuing a career in this industry.” As a senior at North Carolina A&T State University, Alaina is majoring in Food and Nutritional Science with a concentration in Food Science and a minor in Chemistry. “In high school, we learned about food as a science and I fell in love,” she said. “I love to make something out of nothing, and it’s even better if it is something that I can eat!” After she graduates, Alaina plans to attend graduate school and obtain her master’s degree in food science before entering the agriculture industry.

After graduate school, Alaina wants to pursue a career where she can work with fermented foods, like dairy products and cocoa, and the farmers who produce those products. “Ideally I would love to work for a chocolate company and network with the farmers who produce the cocoa, conduct food science initiatives with the cocoa pods and even possibly market the products to customers,” she said. “I am fascinated by the way that microbes exist in their own world and come together to create the products that we love. If I can use that passion every day to not only help our community but help the producers as well, that would be my ultimate dream.”

Not only does Alaina bring passion and enthusiasm to the industry, but also creativity and proactivity. “My mission is to show up and give my absolute best in any and every situation,” she said. “I believe that I can contribute to the industry by generating excitement and creativity, bringing new ideas to the table and seeking out new opportunities.” Alaina says even if she is improving or learning at a 1% rate each day, she will be happy because it’s improvement in the right direction that will ultimately lead to a brighter future and make her a strong leader. “Food is something that is very tangible and personal for people, so as long as I am making a positive impact on that aspect of life through what I do, all the hard work will be worth it,” Alaina said. In addition to making a difference, Alaina loves working in the agriculture industry because of all the amazing local products and friendly people that she encounters.

If you are seeking a career in the agriculture industry or looking to get involved, Alaina’s advice is to pick an area that you love and start digging. “Literally if that’s what speaks to you,” she joked. “It can be more than plows and sows, or it can be exactly that. No matter what you pursue, don’t give up on the search. Find what part of the industry speaks to you.” We are so proud of all that Alaina has accomplished on her agricultural journey so far and look forward to seeing where the future takes her!