Next Gen Ag: Educating the world on N.C. Agriculture

by | May 22, 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!

Born and raised on a cattle farm in Marshville, Lydia Hill grew up with a strong awareness of agriculture. Although she didn’t realize her passion for it until her high school years, today she not only has a passion for the family farm, but a desire to advocate for the industry to every person that she meets.

Lydia’s family farm is home to about 70 head of cattle throughout the year. Nearly all of Lydia’s family is involved in agriculture, whether on the farm or working for another ag related corporation like Pasture Management Systems. “I started helping on the farm at a young age, but truly started to dig deeper into the heart of the farm my junior year of high school,” she said. “I also started working with my dad at Pasture Management Systems to learn that side of the industry.” Lydia’s junior year of high school was the seed that blossomed into where she is today. In fact, Lydia has her FFA advisor to thank for making her take a deeper jump into the industry.

Lydia was involved in FFA throughout her high school years, but her advisor started to challenge her to get involved with more activities and competitions during her junior year. “At the time I really had no interest in getting involved with the competitions and other events of FFA,” she said, “but as acting President that year, I figured it was part of the territory. Turns out, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Not only did Lydia make a lot of connections and learn many life lessons through FFA competitions, but she also fell in love with public speaking. This year, as a senior, Lydia is serving as a student advisor with the FFA and helping to influence first year members to get involved early and start building those bridges. “Agriculture gives people across the world hope, purpose and meaning,” she said. “I learned that in FFA but also through my experience in the industry. It’s a lesson I try to teach in my life every day.” Lydia’s junior year of high school is also when she began showing cattle at the state level and learned many lessons about farming, livestock management and patience. This month, she will be graduating from West Stanly High School with the hopes of continuing her time in FFA as well as launching a career in the agriculture industry.

Throughout her senior year, Lydia has been obtaining many college credits in basic level classes so that she can enter college at a sophomore or junior level. Although she is considering taking a gap year to continue her work with the FFA, Lydia plans to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia and study agriculture communications and political science. “I am not 100 percent sure where my career will take me yet, but I know that I want to advocate for the agriculture industry no matter where I am,” she said. “I think that the political science focus alongside agriculture communications will help to broaden my skills and enable me to become a strong advocate for the industry.” After she spends some time gaining experience across the industry, Lydia would eventually like to come back home and take over the family cattle farm from her mother. “I want to raise my future family here on the farm and allow them to have the same experiences and make the same memories that I did as a child,” she said, “but first, I want to gain as much experience as I can in various facets of agriculture.”

Lydia’s strong communication and leadership skills coupled with her passion for agriculture and advocacy will serve as a driving force for her career in the industry. Although she loves knowing that she is part of an industry that helps to feed the world, Lydia’s favorite part of being in agriculture is the ability that she has to tell people about the importance of the industry and see them get involved. “I tell everyone that I can about agriculture,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I am at my part-time job at a restaurant, out with my friends, at an FFA conference, at school or somewhere else, my passion is to educate people on this industry. I love to see their eyes light up when I tell them something that they didn’t know, and they become interested in the hard work of our farmers.”

For anyone interested in pursuing agriculture, Lydia recommends asking for guidance and building relationships despite your reservations. “The agriculture industry may seem intimidating at first, but don’t let that stop you from asking for guidance,” she said. “Everyone in this industry is so willing to help one another that there is no dumb question. So, ask questions, get involved, build relationships, and find what fuels your fire in this industry.” We are so proud of Lydia’s passion for ag education and look forward to seeing where the future will lead her!