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Celebrating Excellence: CALS Alumni Award Winners

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) recently hosted a ceremony at the Plant Sciences Building to honor this year’s distinguished alumni award winners. Among the recipients, the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences proudly recognized two outstanding individuals for the CALS Alumni awards: Joy Morgan (Outstanding Young Alumni) and Laura Parker (Outstanding Alumni). These exceptional individuals have made significant contributions to the field of agriculture, and their journeys from humble beginnings to excellence are nothing short of inspiring.

Joy Morgan: Nurturing Agricultural Education

Morgan, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, has a remarkable story that underscores the power of determination and passion. Hailing from Oxford, North Carolina. Morgan’s roots lie in a small beef cattle and tobacco farm. Her journey towards agricultural education started early in life, as she was an active member of 4-H and FFA during her formative years.

A pivotal moment in Morgan’s life came during a summer in high school when she attended the Phi Delta Kappa future teacher camp at Indiana University and North Carolina’s Institute for Future Agricultural Leaders camp at North Carolina State University. These experiences crystallized her dream of becoming an agricultural educator. With unwavering determination, she pursued her dream by enrolling at North Carolina State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural education with a concentration and minor in animal science.

After completing her undergraduate studies, Morgan continued her academic journey at North Carolina State University, earning a master’s degree in agricultural education. Following this, she returned to her home county to teach both middle and high school agricultural education before pursuing her doctorate degree.

Today, Morgan stands as a beacon of inspiration in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. Additionally, she serves as the director of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Agricultural Leadership Development Program, demonstrating her commitment to empowering future agricultural leaders.

Reflecting on her journey, Morgan states, “It is such an honor to receive this award from a department that I am able to call home in so many ways. As a student, it was in this department that I was encouraged to pursue dreams that I never imagined possible. Today, this department provides me the opportunity to work with amazing students, agriculturalists, educators, and colleagues every day. Those past and present will never fully understand the impact that they have made in my life. To be an alum of this department is an honor in itself, and I am grateful that my passions allow me to serve others through my career.”

Laura Parker: A Transformational Journey

Laura Parker’s journey into the world of agricultural education is equally remarkable. Initially planning for a career in interior design, her life took an unexpected turn during her participation in the Institute for Future Agricultural Leaders at NC State. This transformative experience prompted her to redirect her career path towards agricultural education.

Parker’s educational pursuits led her to North Carolina State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education with a minor in animal science. Subsequently, she obtained a master’s degree from N.C. A&T State University in agricultural education and earned her National Board of Professional Teaching Licensure in 2011.

During her time at NC State, Parker was not only academically inclined but also actively involved in extracurricular activities, serving as the Animal Science Club President and participating in organizations such as Sigma Alpha Professional Agricultural Sorority, Alpha Zeta Honors Fraternity, NCSU Agri-Life Council, and Collegiate 4-H. Her student teaching experience at Ashe County High School, under the guidance of Jane Garner, played a crucial role in shaping her career.

Today, Parker stands as an agricultural teacher at Bandys High School, where her dedication and passion have been recognized with the 2022 National Association of Agricultural Educators’ Region V Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher award. This accolade acknowledges her as one of the top agricultural educators in the nation and the finest in North Carolina. Parker’s deep agricultural roots, with her grandparents’ involvement in dairy cattle, beef cattle, and tobacco farming, have undoubtedly influenced her commitment to the field.

The stories of Joy Morgan and Laura Parker serve as powerful reminders of the impact that passionate individuals can have on the world of agriculture and education. Their journeys from small-town beginnings to becoming leaders in their respective fields inspire us all to pursue our dreams relentlessly and make a positive difference in the world. These CALS alumni award winners exemplify the spirit of dedication, resilience, and excellence that is celebrated within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.