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Agriculture, Leadership, and Goats: Kaena Wallace Prince’s NC State and Career Journey

Kaena Wallace Prince’s great grandparents were farmers, but she wasn’t involved with agriculture until high school, when a friend convinced her to join FFA and she “found a passion for agriculture, leadership, and educating people about agriculture”. Her interest grew while a student at NC State, where she studied extension education, with minors in animal science and leadership in agriculture and life sciences. Prince says that it was NC State that she “learned what extension was all about”, as well as the importance of networking and building connections and relationships for career success. 

It was also at NC State that Prince discovered an interest in livestock agriculture: taking a small ruminant class, visiting NC State’s farm education units, and gaining livestock management experience through volunteer work, were so inspirational that she and her husband started their own goat farm when she was still in college. Prince says that her family would have never imagined her being a farmer – especially not a goat farmer – but that following her passion and taking the leap was worth it. Prince and her husband have now operated MP2 Goats for almost four years, raising registered Boers. 

Kaena Wallace Prince

Prince thanks Joseph Donaldson, Jeannette Moore, and Joy Morgan for supporting her throughout her NC State journey and beyond. Donaldson played a particularly important role in helping her pursue a graduate degree: approaching May 2019 graduation, Prince didn’t feel a master’s degree was financially feasible, and while Donaldson encouraged her to explore her options, she had “made up her mind” that an advanced degree wasn’t in the cards. That is, until she received an assistantship offer from Clemson out of the blue. “They told me that Dr. Donaldson had spoken very highly of me at a conference and thought I would be perfect for the assistantship position they needed to fill”, says Prince. A few phone calls and a visit to South Carolina later, Prince was officially hired for the position, allowing her to pursue her master’s degree affordably. “I could not be more thankful that Dr. Donaldson found this opportunity for me”, says Prince. “Thank you, Dr. Donaldson, for believing in me and helping me get to where I am today”. 

At Clemson, Prince’s thesis research focused on Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program, and she worked closely with the South Carolina Farm Bureau. Prince says it felt like a foot in the door, and after graduating and moving back to North Carolina, she joined Knightdale Farm Bureau Insurance as associate agent. “It has roots in agriculture and a ton of opportunities for making connections”, notes Prince of the Farm Bureau. “Insurance was a new world for me as well, and I am always ready to learn something new. I know I was placed here for a reason to start off, and I have so much room to grow from here”. 

Prince’s family at their MP2 Goats farm

Prince loves the people she works with at Farm Bureau, and says they keep her positive and help her feel appreciated. As an associate agent, she interacts with clients daily over the phone and in person, and is responsible for providing excellent customer service. “We want to make sure our customers know us and are able to talk to a human being when they call, rather than an automated message”, says Prince. She also understands the critical importance of her work: by providing insurance for home, auto, life, and business, Farm Bureau helps people recover from disaster. “Insurance will always be relevant and it is always important to have knowledge about insurance to make sure you are covered the way you want to be”, she notes. 

Looking ahead, Prince is excited to come full circle and work with the Ag in the Classroom program, as well as with Young Farmers and Ranchers, in her role at Farm Bureau. In addition, Prince finds meaning in working on her farm and volunteering with Johnston County 4-H, where she and another volunteer are starting a Bunny 4-H club.. She’s also planning to expand their farm, and she’s interested in the idea of offering on-site educational opportunities in addition to their production operation. Thanks to diverse experiences at NC State, Clemson, in the Farm Bureau office, and on the farm, Prince is ready for whatever she decides to do next. “I’m excited to see where this journey takes me”, she says.