Women in Ag: Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center Manager Susan Tyre

by | Mar 19, 2024

March is celebrated as National Women’s Month, a time to recognize the many accomplishments of women. There’s a common misconception that agriculture is a male-driven field. In North Carolina, there’s many trail-blazing women that are not only making their impact felt at the farm level, but also on national agricultural boards, leading as ag researchers and professors at our universities and companies and as owners of processing plants and other ag-related businesses. The latest Census of Agriculture shows that 33 percent of all agriculture producers in North Carolina are female. Women run nearly 22,000 farms in the state with an average farm size of 131 acres and average total production value of $353,278.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also benefits from the knowledge and leadership of women with nearly half of the leadership positions at the department filled by women.
The Marketing Division of the NCDA&CS has women running farmers markets, ag centers and many of the programs that support farmers in the state. These women demonstrate a passion for the industry, decades of experience and a solid base of guidance and support for the farmers, vendors and consumers they serve. This week we are introducing you to a few of the women that help promote agriculture through their roles at the NCDA&CS. Today we profile Susan Tyre, manager, Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center.

Susan Tyre has been manager of the Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center in Williamston for the past six years. The facility hosts more than 120 events each year. This includes commodity group and community meetings in the Meeting Center as well as events like rodeos, monster truck rallies and horse shows that can attract nearly 10,000 attendees an event at their Coliseum.  Tyre supervises a staff of seven full-time workers and three part-time workers.

Tyre brings energy, organization and a passion for promoting agriculture to the ag center.  “Wherever we can our staff works to promote the true story of agriculture to the attendees of events at our facility,” said Tyre. “I developed a passion early in life for telling people where our food and fiber come from. Everyone’s life revolves around six inches of soil and whether or not it rains. Our goal is to promote our facility, the department and agriculture to the highest degree.”

Growing up on a farm in Wilson County is where Tyre’s agricultural journey started. As a youth she showed cattle, pigs, poultry, goats and lambs. She was also active in 4-H and FFA. “Both of these organizations taught me a lot about agriculture, public speaking and advocacy,” she said. “It was through my involvement with agriculture at an early age that I developed a passion for telling the story of ag.”

After obtaining bachelor’s degrees in animal science and agricultural and extension education from N.C. State University, Tyre became a 4-H agent for Martin County.  “I learned that the best way to teach about food and fiber is to teach while they are young. I also stressed to my students that agriculture needs all careers – from engineers to truck drivers to record keepers. Keeping accurate records or delivering commodities to a distribution center is just as important to the ag industry as sitting on a tractor. We all work together to a strong industry.” Tyre has also completed her master’s in agriculture and extension education at N.C. State University and is currently working on her N.C. Certified Public Manager Program certificate through the Office of State Human Resources.

Tyre brings her passion for ag education to her job as manager of the Ag Center. “In the summer we host a day camp for ages 9 to 12. The youth tour the facility, follow a farm-to-school curriculum, learn about our crops and play interactive games.”  She hopes to further this passion for education by developing an outreach event with assistance from FFA and the Martin County Tourism Development authority that combines agriculture, community and fun.

“The best part of my job is the people I work with every day,” said Tyre. “We have a young team that supports one another, and we get up every day to do our best and be the best we can be.”