Skip to main content

Nurturing Diversity and Growth in Agricultural

Coming from a large urban city, graduate student Mikayla Daniels had very limited exposure to the world of agriculture. It wasn’t until she began her journey at NC State that she developed an appreciation for the field and uncovered a lifelong passion. She was able to fully immersed herself in its many facets and discovered the potential that it held for her. Daniels graduated with a degree in agricultural science in May 2022 and decided to further pursue her passion through a master’s degree in agricultural and extension education. 

Alongside pursuing her master’s, Daniels works as a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant. As a teaching assistant, she collaborates closely with faculty members to support various courses related to agricultural education and extension. Her responsibilities encompass facilitating discussions, aiding in lesson planning, grading assignments, and providing academic assistance to students. In her role as a graduate research assistant, she primarily focuses on research endeavors aimed at enhancing the inclusivity of agricultural education and extension initiatives for minority populations. Her duties involve designing and conducting research studies, collecting and analyzing data, and contributing to academic publications to advance the understanding of how agricultural programs can be more inclusive and accessible to underrepresented groups.

Daniels harbors a strong desire to empower the next generation of agricultural leaders, making her roles as a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant particularly meaningful. She attributes her inspiration to pursue a master’s degree, along with engaging in teaching and research, to the influence and encouragement of faculty members. She emphasizes that this path provides a platform to explore innovative solutions, conduct research driving change, and contribute to the broader goal of fostering diversity and inclusion within the agricultural community.

Daniels with Joy Morgan after receiving Outstanding Student in Agricultural Science at the May 2022 graduation

Beyond her academic roles, Daniels is actively involved in the REAL (Rurally Engaged Agricultural Leaders) program on campus, serving as part of their leadership team. In this capacity, she contributes to the oversight and organization of the program’s activities and initiatives, engages with fellow students and community members, and promotes agricultural education and leadership in rural settings.

When reflecting on standout individuals at NC State that have made an impact on her, Daniels mentions Travis Park and Joy Morgan as faculty members who played pivotal roles in her journey. She also acknowledges the support from several other individuals within the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, noting, “Their welcoming attitude and willingness to assist have further enriched my educational journey, reinforcing the sense of community and shared purpose that makes my time at NC State all the more meaningful.”

Looking ahead, Daniels aspires to continue making strides toward her long-term career goals. Her next step involves deepening her knowledge in agricultural education through a doctoral program. She envisions herself in a position, five years from now, where she can lead and implement programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of inner-city youth by fostering a deep connection with agriculture, promoting career readiness, and nurturing leadership and community engagement skills.

Coming from an urban background in the agricultural world, Daniels is committed to addressing the unique educational needs within urban agricultural programs. She advocates for the inclusion of robust agricultural curriculum and career development initiatives in urban schools, aiming to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities. Daniels remarks, “This endeavor paves the way for a more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable future within the agricultural sector, benefiting both the individuals we inspire and the broader fabric of society.”