Next Gen Ag: National Mrs. U.S. Agriculture changes the industry for the better

by | Apr 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!

Within every industry is a group of people who elevate connections, support the products, and believe in the message so much that they are willing to do whatever it takes to share that message with the world. For the N.C. Agriculture industry, Nicole Hall is one of those people. Growing up in a world that was traced by agriculture, Nicole always knew that something about this industry was calling her home. Although it wasn’t until later in her college years that the spark of agriculture ignited in her life, she has been a firm supporter of the industry since the beginning.

A native of Lumberton, Nicole grew up surrounded by agriculture both within her family and across the community. “Lumberton is a huge agriculture community. You can hardly turn the corner somewhere without seeing a farm or a field,” she said. “I heard so many stories growing up from my dad, mom and other members of the community about the importance of agriculture and how it had shaped their lives.” Nicole’s father worked on a farm for many years of his life. In fact, some of Nicole’s very first memories of agriculture were helping to shuck corn and shell peas on the front porch with her family. “My mom was a florist so, in addition to the crops that we had on the farm, we had a large plot of flowers where my mom would plant and work,” Nicole said. “My father always told me that I reminded him of his father, my grandfather, because I would walk the rows of flowers and talk to them in the same way that my grandfather used to walk the rows of tobacco and talk to it.” Nicole’s family also had many friends throughout the community that were involved in agriculture and gave her many experiences with different crops at a young age, including her Uncle Sam that brought truckloads of sugarcane to the house. “I would sit down and chew on that stick like my life depended on it,” she laughed. “I learned at a young age how important agriculture was and how hard the people in this industry work to grow the products that we need and love.” At the age of 18, one of Nicole’s friends invested in an alpaca farm and her love for livestock began. Today, Nicole raises chickens on their family farm for large scale corporations like Smithfield Foods. “I’ve never lived a life without tractor crossing signs and agriculture surrounding me,” she said. “As I look back on my life today, I see that agriculture has traced and shaped me every step of the way.”

Although she went to Lumberton High School and was in the FFA for a short time, it wasn’t until her late college years at Campbell University that Nicole realized her love for agriculture and desire to make it her life path. “I actually graduated from Campbell with a degree in Biology,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I loved agriculture until one of my professors, who was also a farmer, started giving us hands-on experience at his farm. It was there that the spark ignited for me. I believe the embers had always been there from my family history and childhood, but they were fully ignited towards the end of my college years.” Since graduation, Nicole has been spending a lot of her time advocating for the industry, growing her family farm, and building her platform as a leader in agriculture. Last year she served as Mrs. U.S. Agriculture, and she was recently crowned National Mrs. U.S. Agriculture, where she will serve until July of 2025! “My goal is to help bust the myths that are associated with agriculture and educate others on the true nature and importance of the industry,” Nicole said. “Agriculture keeps everyone fed, holds up our economy, produces the clothes we wear and so much more. Until my last breath, I will use my platform and influence to spread the word about what N.C. Agriculture does for our state and the world.” Her goal in 2025 is to compete in the Mrs. USA pageant and bring the awareness of agriculture to an even wider audience.

In addition to her position as National Mrs. U.S. Agriculture, Nicole farms and raises chickens in Lumberton and she is also working towards some big dreams, like writing a series of agriculturally based children’s books and a local farming and culinary TV show. The first children’s book, which focuses on a chicken nugget, is planned to be released sometime in the later part of 2025. Nicole is excited to help bring the world of agriculture to a younger audience in a fun and educational way. Her biggest dream, however, is to have her own sustainable farm experience. “I would like to eventually own anywhere from 40 to 60 acres of land where I can have a general store that stocks NC based brands, grow and raise the livestock and produce, and provide hands-on courses to teach people about agriculture and immerse them in the experience,” she said. “I could have cottages on the property for people to stay in overnight, cook meals with products grown and raised on the farm, and so much more. That way people could come learn about and experience agriculture, then go back to their own homes more enlightened and educated.”

Nicole’s personality as a strong communicator, her skills as a helper and listener, and her deep passion for the industry will all play guiding roles in her future. “I like to call myself the Public’s Farmer Bestie because my goal is to help people within and outside the agriculture industry in any way that I can,” she said. “I feel like I am a good resource for people and if I don’t have the answer to a question, I will find someone who does. I’ve learned that there are so many different facets of agriculture and I want to share that with the world in any way that I can.” In fact, her main goal this year as National Mrs. U.S. Agriculture is to visit 100 farms in the state and get to know the hard-working hands behind the business. “This industry is all about connections,” she said. “I want to visit these farms, hear their stories, learn what they grow and why, see where they come from, etc. We all have a story that is beneficial to this industry, and we can help one another continue to make this industry strong, but it’s going to take intentionality, vulnerability, and connection on all levels.”

Although she loves all aspects of agriculture, one of Nicole’s favorite parts of the industry is the peace that she finds on the farm and in the chicken house. “I really do see God in agriculture,” she said. “I find a peace that surpasses all understanding on a farm and in my own chicken houses. I hear God’s voice best in the chicken house. He is interwoven into each part of this industry. I am thankful to be a part of something that has such a strong foundation of faith.”

For anyone looking to get involved in the agriculture industry, Nicole not only offers herself as a resource and contact, but also suggests getting involved with agriculture programs like FFA and 4H, as well as visiting and helping farms in your community. “The Visit NC Farms app is a great resource to finding farms in your area,” she said. “Reach out to a couple and ask to visit, or even to help work on the farm for a while. Commit to it and give it everything you’ve got.” Nicole responds to every message that she receives either through text or her Instagram account, so feel free to message her for more advice or help pursuing your agriculture dreams. We are so proud of everything that Nicole is doing within the agriculture industry to help further the message. It’s an honor to have her standing in the gap and fighting for our state’s number one industry!