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A Journey from the Farm to the Classroom

Growing up under the influence of her grandfather, Missy Swain developed a profound passion for agriculture through her involvement in 4-H and FFA. Hailing from Northeastern NC, Swain spent her summers on the family farm. During elementary school, she engaged in the local 4-H program, and in high school, she became an active member of FFA. Her tenure in FFA presented numerous personal and professional growth opportunities, steering her towards a career and life in agriculture. With the enduring impact of FFA shaping her journey, Swain aspired to offer future high school students the same enriching experiences she had.

In 2006, she graduated from NC State with a bachelor’s degree in extension education and a minor in horticulture science. Armed with the foundational skills acquired during her time at the university, Swain embarked on a successful path as an agriculture education teacher. She diligently cultivated connections within the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, maintaining relationships with peers that endure to this day. Reflecting on her NC State experience, Swain highlights Jim Flowers, Beth Wilson, Joy Morgan, and John Dole as pivotal figures in her journey.

Over the past seventeen years, Swain served as an agriculture education teacher for Currituck County Schools, specializing in horticulture and animal science. While in that position, she took on the role of advisor for the Currituck FFA Chapter. In this role, she assisted students in preparing for various Career Development Event (CDE) teams and provided opportunities to further leadership development in her students. 

Swain’s mission as an agricultural educator revolved around ensuring all students attain knowledge in agriculture, whether it be in a future career or as an informed member of the community. She created opportunities for students to grow as individuals and emerge as leaders in their communities and workplaces through student organizations such as FFA. 

Swain earning the CTE Teacher of the Year

Recently honored as the inaugural North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher of the Year, Swain recently transitioned into the role of CTE director for Perquimans County Schools this year. In this capacity, she will support students, teachers, and staff, enhancing their success in classrooms.

With this upcoming career change, Swain reflects deeply on her journey and some of her biggest influences. She passionately states that her decision to pursue a career in agriculture education was due to her own time in those programs and guidance from her grandfather. Swain recalls fondly on her grandfather, “His love for people and his kindness to others is something I will remember most. He instilled hard work in myself at a young age. Working on the farm with him and my dad during the summer is a memory I will cherish forever”.

Expressing her passion, she emphasizes, “Agriculture education made a huge impact on my life by providing me with many opportunities such as leadership development, career readiness, and taught me valuable life skills. I wanted to provide the same opportunities for students that I had as a high school student.”

Looking toward the future, Swain hopes to continue advocating for Career and Technical Education in Noth Carolina and provide opportunities for students. She also hopes to serve as a liaison between industry partners and teachers to continue to provide current and relevant instruction for students in North Carolina that will better prepare them for the workforce.