The distinguished Dr. Sarah Kirby was recently awarded the Outstanding Graduate Instructor of 2021 by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She discussed how she was very surprised to be nominated, then honored. “We have such an outstanding group of faculty teaching in the YFCS program. All are extremely talented and connect extremely well to our students.” As an Assistant Director and State Program Leader for Family and Consumer Sciences for NC State Extension, Dr. Kirby has made a profound impact on the Youth, Family, and Community Science (YFCS) program.
While Dr. Kirby does not have a formal teaching appointment in the department, she has still served as a leader for the YFCS academic program, teaching classes, advising students, and serving on the graduate studies committee. Dr. Kirby began teaching when the department first created the MS program. She has found great fulfillment in educating students saying, “The majority of my faculty career has been spent teaching the public. However, as a classroom teacher and an extension specialist, my goal for students is the same: to relate concepts, theories, scientific phenomena and apply them to real life. It is essential to connect theoretical knowledge to the real world. I love it when people have that ‘aha’ moment where all of the pieces come together and begin to make sense.”
Dr. Kirby later dedicated her time and energy to many projects for the YFCS department. Her creation of an orientation course for all YFCS students contained modules that allowed learners to gain knowledge in academic writing, the NCSU library resources, and more. Dr. Kirby revised YFCS 500 (Supervised Professional Experience) and YFCS 585 (Professional Ethics and Family Policy). Under her guidance and commitment, these classes have greatly developed to ensure rigorous and up-to-date material for all incoming students. Dr. Kirby also developed the YFCS 540 course (Environmental Influences on the Family), in which students can learn more about housing and the environment.
In addition to her significant contributions to the YFCS core curriculum, Dr. Kirby has offered valuable mentorship to students and staff. Her role as an academic advisor had a remarkable impact on YFCS students, as her coaching led to their growth and success. As assistant director of Family and Consumer Sciences, Dr. Kirby has extended her great counsel to junior faculty through extension training, publications, and presentations. She is also the State Coordinator for the Healthy Homes Partnership which focuses on improving the health and safety of children and their caregivers in homes by reducing housing hazards that cause injury and disease.
We are exceptionally grateful to Dr. Kirby for the extraordinary work and devotion she provides to the YFCS program and our department and college as a whole.