Alumna’s Experience as an Agricultural Science Teacher

Photo of students in caps and gowns at NC State commencement

Headshot of white woman with coral shirtGrowing up, Ally Edwards always knew she wanted to make an impact on the world. By high school, her exposure to agricultural classes and inspirational teachers motivated her to pursue a career in teaching, where she could create a positive influence on the next generation of leaders. She is now an Agriculture Science teacher at North Johnston Middle School, where she currently follows in the footsteps of her beloved role models.

As a young girl Ally had her heart set on attending North Carolina State University, so her acceptance was a dream come true. Her experience in this “big school with a small school feel” helped Ally immerse herself in the Agricultural Education community and develop a diverse group of friends. Ally was heavily involved with extracurricular and career-focused activities such as the Young Farmers and Ranchers program and the Alumni Association Student Ambassador Program. Her extensive participation in the NC State community equipped her with a vast amount of resources and tools she now uses when teaching agriculture.

Ally looks back fondly on her educational experiences at both NC State and in high school. She extends enormous gratitude towards her high school agriculture teachers, who inspired and influenced her to pursue a career teaching agriculture. Her agriculture teachers and FFA advisors motivated, encouraged, and supported Ally in all of her endeavors. From NC State, Ally offers sincere thanks to all of the agricultural education faculty that helped her achieve her career and educational goals, specifically Travis Park, Joy Morgan, Wendy Warner, Jim Flowers, and Barbara Kirby. Together they ensured Ally’s success and preparation to do what she loves the most.

In her personal life, Ally also gives thanks to her loving and supportive friends and family, who pushed her to be the hardworking and passionate woman she is today. Her hardworking peers in her agricultural education cohort effectively worked together and encouraged one another to be better students, even through the challenges of the world pandemic.

Ally says Ms. Allison Dunn at Clayton Middle School made tremendous efforts to prepare Ally while she was student-teaching and helped Ally establish her own classroom. As a teacher now, she finds that her students often inspire her to be a better teacher and a positive light in their lives.

Ally Edwards recently received the honor of being named the First Year Teacher of the Year for Johnston County Public Schools. She is grateful to be the recipient of such high appreciation, but graciously adds that “all of the candidates were deserving of this award.” Edwards feels humbled returning to the Johnston County school district that she attended kindergarten to 12th grade.

While Ally maintains a positive attitude, she also acknowledges the difficulty all teachers have dealt with as they navigated teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her colleagues have supported and helped one another as they constructed non-traditional teaching strategies to keep students engaged in their curriculum. Ally’s colleagues, administrators, family, and friends helped her maintain a successful school year with their constant support and encouragement.

Ally encourages all individuals interested in pursuing agriculture to reach out to an agriculture teacher in their area and schedule time to talk. The connections you make with educators, and those involved with the career you seek to obtain, can offer practical knowledge and tips that will help pave the road to your desired future. Luckily the agricultural community is strong with members who continually seek to help one another excel and grow. Edwards adds that “teaching agriculture is the best profession!” Through this fulfilling career, one gets to “facilitate hands-on learning, build strong relationships with students, and be a part of an agricultural education community that works diligently to grow the profession and success of ag education.”

In the future, Ally plans to grow her program at North Johnston Middle School. She is working to restart its FFA Chapter, which she participated in as a younger student. In her previous experience with FFA, Ally cultivated her passion for agriculture, leadership, and building relationships. She hopes to offer the same advantages to her new students. Ally also has goals to expand her classroom to provide a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities. This includes beautifying the school courtyard by maintaining and planting raised beds. Ally also hopes to bring some animals into her classroom in the hopes that it could encourage animal care among her students. There are an endless amount of techniques and learning opportunities one can incorporate in the classroom, she reflects. Nothing can stop the Ally from implementing the most effective, enjoyable, and educational experiences as she continues her pursuits as an agricultural teacher.