Next Gen Ag: Falling in love with agriculture through FFA

by | May 15, 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!

The bond of siblings is enough to shift the dynamic of an entire family, or at least it was for Susannah “Suzy” Piatek and her family. Growing up with four siblings involved in agriculture, Suzy followed in their footsteps from childhood to FFA and now through high school. With eyes set on a future in Ag Mechanics, Suzy is well on her way to becoming one of our industry’s future leaders.

As a child, Suzy remembers many afternoons spent watching her oldest brother tend chickens in their backyard in Johnston County. “The day he brought home chickens I was immediately fascinated by them,” she said. “I would watch my brother care for them and harvest eggs until I decided that I needed chickens of my own.” Although their parents were not involved with agriculture, all five of the Piatek siblings grew up in FFA and were immersed in agriculture at some point in their lives. In fact, Suzy joined FFA her freshman year of high school because she had seen and heard about all the wonderful things that it did for her siblings. “Watching my siblings come up in FFA plus tending chickens in the backyard really sparked my interest in agriculture as a career,” she said. In middle school, Suzy got her first chicken named Sandy and eventually two more named Cruella and Reba. “I have learned a lot from tending these animals and I would love to one day learn more about livestock by raising and caring for them,” she said. “Thankfully, we have had a lot of experience in FFA working with animals and learning more about the livestock side of the industry. I find it all very fascinating and would love to become more involved in future years.” Suzy joined FFA her freshman year of high school and dove headfirst into N.C. Agriculture.

“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but it took me a while to figure out what subject I wanted to teach,” Suzy said. “When I took my very first ag mechanics class in high school, I immediately fell in love and knew this is where I wanted to spend my career.” Growing up more of a girly girl, Suzy was shocked that Ag Mechanics ended up having her heart, but she loves the skills and pride that it brings her. “Ag mechanics doesn’t just teach you specialized tasks like welding, but it also teaches you a variety of life skills, like wiring and how to fix things,” she said. “I not only enjoy learning the concepts, but also building things that look good, and discovering how to use the tools and reap the rewards of my hard work!” As a rising senior at Cleveland High School, Suzy plans to continue taking all the agriculture classes that she can until she graduates. After graduation, she plans to attend N.C. State University to pursue a degree in Agriculture Education. Once completed, she dreams of becoming an Ag Mechanics teacher for her local high school, preferably Cleveland High School.

Suzy is also the acting Chapter Secretary for the FFA at Cleveland High School. She has been involved with many competitions through the years, including tools team and ag sales. “I love FFA because you learn so much and are presented with many hands-on opportunities,” she said. “They teach you what makes N.C. Agriculture – agriculture. You learn about the different processes of agriculture, how to build connections in the industry, various leadership skills and so much more.” Suzy plans to finish out her Senior year in FFA and looks forward to continuing to work with them for many years to come. “I encourage everyone to get involved with FFA because of all the opportunities presented to them,” she said. “It’s an experience that changed my life and I know it can do the same for others.”

Her strong leadership skills, outgoing personality, knowledge of mechanics and people skills will take Suzy far in her ag mechanics career. In addition to becoming a teacher, Suzy plans to keep raising chickens and eventually incorporate other livestock animals, like goats. “Livestock farming intrigues me and I love working with the animals,” she said. “I would love to expand my knowledge of it by adding additional animals to my property one day.”

For anyone seeking a career in the agriculture industry, Suzy recommends setting your nerves aside and jumping in. “Don’t be timid about joining the agriculture industry,” she said. “Agriculture is a fun industry to be a part of. You will find something that speaks to you, your interests, and your passions if you take every opportunity presented to you and work hard at all that you do.” We are so proud of Suzy and excited to see where her future in agriculture takes her!