Next Gen Ag: Everyone belongs in the N.C. Agriculture industry

by | Mar 27, 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!

During their free time, many kids would list watching TV or playing on their iPad as some of their favorite things to do. However, for William Winslow, it was always digging potatoes with his grandfather. “It was my favorite activity not only because I enjoyed it and the time with my grandpa, but also because he told me many stories about his work as Chairman of Farm Bureau during those moments,” he said. Growing up under such strong agricultural leadership, it’s no surprise that William is seeking a career in the industry for himself.

William learned a lot at the hands of his grandfather as a child. “My grandfather was not only the Chairman of Farm Bureau, but he also farmed 1,000 acres of tobacco on his land, which was about an hour outside of Raleigh,” William said. “I learned a lot about the importance of our state’s agriculture industry from him as well as how to let passion and a hard work ethic drive you.” A passion for agriculture was passed down from William’s grandfather to him and has stayed with him all through middle and high school.

As a Senior at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, William is looking towards a college major in Agriculture Education or Agriculture Ecology at N.C. State University. Throughout his high school years, William has been heavily involved in the FFA and has learned many skills and life lessons through the organization. He also enjoyed many hands-on experiences and competitions through the years. In fact, he recently won first place in Prepared Public Speaking! “I have learned so many life skills during my time with FFA, including public speaking,” he said. “It has opened my eyes to a variety of opportunities and careers available in the agriculture industry and has helped me become more confident as an individual and the difference I can make for ag in the future.” In addition to being a strong public speaker and a hard worker, William brings a unique perspective to the industry due to his background in urban agriculture. “I believe that I can serve as a good reminder that agriculture is for everyone,” he said. “I didn’t grow up in the country or on 1,000 acres of farmland, but agriculture still spoke to me, and it can do the same for other people.”

Currently, William has a small hay farm in Person County where he hopes to continue growing hay and possibly tobacco in the future. Even though his future opportunities are wide open, he hopes to one day become an Agriculture Education teacher and farm on the side. “I am really passionate about reaching the next generation and ensuring they know the importance of our state’s number one industry,” he said. As he begins his college journey, William is excited about all the opportunities he will find in agriculture and the many connections he will make.

Even though William enjoys many aspects of the agriculture industry, including walking behind and driving the tractor, his favorite part of being involved with agriculture is the people. “The agriculture community and culture are unmatched in any other industry,” he said. “Everyone is so willing to help and support one another. It’s comforting and rewarding to know that I have people surrounding me that will help me succeed, and hopefully I can do the same for other people.”

For individuals seeking a career in the industry, William challenges you to get involved in FFA or 4H and learn everything about agriculture that you possibly can. “Remember that agriculture is for everyone, so it doesn’t matter where you come from, if you have a background in agriculture or what sparks your interest,” he said. “There is a place for you in agriculture and you can make a difference in this industry.” We are excited for William as he starts his journey into college and his agricultural career. Congratulations on your high school graduation William! We look forward to seeing where the future will take you.