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Rooted in Agricultural Success

Daniel Radford, a graduate of the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences (AHS), has always been an NC State fan as proven by his two degrees and even working at the university. Radford attributes his successful career path to the opportunities and support he received at NC State. He currently serves as the Southeast Regional Communications Manager for The Cotton Board. Upon entering the university, Radford actively sought ways to engage as a student. Throughout his undergraduate studies, he collaborated with the Agricultural Institute (AGI), participated in the Warren Leadership Program, and interned with the North Carolina Farm Bureau. Additionally, he was involved in the Agricultural and Extension Education Club (now known as the FFA Alumni and Supporters at NC State) and NC State Young Farmers and Ranchers.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science with minors in animal science and agricultural business management in 2018, Radford pursued a master’s in agricultural and extension education (AEE). During his time in the master’s program, he continued to thrive, working as a teaching assistant for former CALS Dean Richard Linton and Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler while completing his degree in 2020.

During the summer months, Radford was able to intern with the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation through the Warren Leadership Program. He is forever grateful for this experience which has continued to open up doors of opportunity for him as he entered into his career. Some of the individuals who made this experience possible were David Jones (former AEE faculty member), Rhonda Stutton, and Sarah Dinger. This internship allowed him to see all of the agriculture, food, and natural resources sectors. Radford states “A special thank you to Sutton and Dinger for their leadership in putting this program on and providing this opportunity for students like me – who would have never had the experience without their support and guidance.”

Radford with co-workers at the Sunbelt Ag Expo

Reflecting on his experience with the AHS Department, Radford highlighted the familial atmosphere and the professors’ commitment to student engagement. He specifically acknowledged Joy Morgan‘s impact on his academic journey, citing her support in applying for graduate school and the subsequent opportunities that arose. Radford collaborated with Morgan as a teaching assistant and contributed to the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Agricultural Leadership Development Program during his graduate program. Throughout this experience, he was able to interact with farmers, agricultural professionals, extension agents, and others involved in the agriculture industry in NC. Radford acknowledges that “She [Morgan] is a fantastic educator, mentor, and leader – NC State, CALS and NC Agriculture are lucky to have her!”

Bill Collins, a retired tobacco extension specialist and past associate head of the crop science department, served as a source of inspiration for Radford. Their connection began during Radford’s undergraduate program, and he later worked with Collins while pursuing his master’s degree. Radford admired Collins for teaching him patience, kindness, and a willingness to help others.

In his current role as the Southeast Regional Communications Manager for The Cotton Board, Radford oversees various responsibilities, including engaging with cotton producers, ginners, and industry leaders in the Southeastern United States. His region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Radford actively participates in field visits, calls, producer tours, and speaking engagements to promote the messaging of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.

Radford with Colleagues and friends at the Annual CALS Ag Day Baseball game.

One of the main goals of Radford’s job is to keep US producers informed about how their investment is working to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton. They do this through farm-level agricultural research that helps producers increase yields and improve profitability at the fiber level to increase the worldwide demand for cotton and cotton products.

Thinking about the days to come, Radford remarks, “I am not sure where the future will take me but I am passionate about agriculture and plan to stay involved in the industry- supporting farmers/agricultural producers and helping to feed and clothe the world”. His biggest piece of advice to past, current, and future students is to stay involved, be open to new opportunities, and never stop expanding your network.

Looking back on his journey in agriculture Radford reflects, “I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the connections I’ve made along the way. I tell people often – the agriculture industry is complex but those involved in the industry are often connected in some way. Agriculture is like a big family – there may be different sizes and types of operations but it takes us all to feed and clothe our growing population”.