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Sarah Kirby Named 2021 Outstanding CALS Graduate Instructor

The distinguished Sarah Kirby was recently awarded the Outstanding Graduate Instructor of 2021 by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She discussed how she was surprised to be nominated, then honored. “We have such an outstanding group of faculty teaching in the YFCS program,” Kirby says. “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, Kirby has profoundly impacted the Youth, Family, and Community Science (YFCS)  program.

Sarah Kirby

While 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. She began teaching when the department first created the M.S. program. She has found great fulfillment in educating students. “The majority of my faculty career has been spent teaching the public,” Kirby says. “However, as a classroom teacher and an extension specialist, my goal for students is the same: to relate concepts, theories, and 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.”

Kirby later dedicated her time and energy to many projects for the YFCS department. Her creation of an orientation course for YFCS students contained modules that allowed learners to gain knowledge in academic writing, the NC State library resources, and more. Kirby revised YFCS 500 (Supervised Professional Experience) and YFCS 585 (Professional Ethics and Family Policy) courses. Under her guidance and commitment, these classes have significantly developed to ensure rigorous and up-to-date material for incoming students. Kirby also created 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, 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, 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 Sarah Kirby for the extraordinary work and devotion she provides to the YFCS program, our department and the college.