Skip to main content

From 4-H to the Brickyard

Most high school seniors don’t spend the summer after graduation studying livestock diagnostics and medical treatment.

But MaryBeth Tyndall has always had a pretty good idea of the direction she wanted to go.

A dedicated 4-H member since the age of 9, Tyndall will already know her way around campus when she arrives in August as a freshman agricultural education major. She was just here for the 4-H Livestock Contest in July, her last one before finally becoming a CALS student herself.

Her specialty at the event is Skillathon, which requires students to study and retain extensive agricultural knowledge — like basic health standards for each species of livestock and tool identification.

“I’m kind of a nerd anyway, so I thought — using pen and paper to learn about livestock? That sounds fun!” Tyndall said.

She won the quality assurance division of the national Skillathon event in Kentucky last year — “I was shocked,” she said, “there were so many serious competitors there!” — so this year’s event was less stressful than in the past. Having grown up on a crop farm, Tyndall savored the chance to learn the nutritional value of the crops in relation to an animal’s diet.

On the Tyndall family farm in Lenoir County, the fields are mostly tobacco, as well as crops like corn, soybeans and sweet potatoes.

Every summer, Tyndall and her younger sister pitch in to help harvest the tobacco. Her sister drives the tractor that pulls the harvester and trailer; Tyndall rides on the harvester itself, lifting heavy bundles of tobacco leaves from farm workers and arranging them onto the racking table.

The decision to come to CALS was an easy one. Tyndall loved CALS’ stellar reputation and close-knit feel. The South Lenoir High School graduate earned scholarships from the Titmus Foundation, the NC Small Grain Grower’s Association and AgCarolina Farm Credit.

And there was another incentive. Tyndall’s father, Johnnie Tyndall, is another CALS alumni.

“He never pushed NC State on me,” she said, “but he’s pleased it’s where I want to go.”

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.