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Katherine McKee, PhD

Assistant Professor

Co-Director - The Oaks Leadership Scholars

216 Ricks Hall


Katherine McKee received her PhD in Agricultural & Extension Education from Virginia Tech in 2011 where her studies focused on identity development, access to discourses, and pedagogy. Dr. McKee works in leadership education examining how we can develop leadership capacities for transformative change. Prior to coming to NC State as faculty, Dr. McKee served as a 4-H Youth Development Agent and as a High School Agriculture Teacher.

She is the co-director of The Oaks Leadership Scholars and co-editor and co-author of Transformative Leadership in Action: Allyship, Advocacy, & Activism both of which focus on developing identities aligned with transformative leadership in order to address justice and equity goals.

She developed and facilitates Agents for Change, a two-year program for early career Extension professionals to develop leadership capacities to address big, messy challenges in their communities and create more just and equitable outcomes.

Dr. McKee is the co-PI on New Beginnings for Colleges of Agriculture, a NIFA-funded program to develop cultural competency among CALS faculty in order to support youth from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian in their success at NC State and to develop curriculum for faculty at other institutions to build competence for similar work with Indigenous populations. Further, she is a collaborator on the #PassTheMicYouth Curriculum to develop advocacy among youth.

Programs and Initiatives

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • AEE 350: Personal Leadership Development in ALS
  • AEE 490: Seminar in Agriucltural & Extension Education
  • AEE 311: Communication Methods & Media in ALS (with graduate TA)
  • AEHS 501: Foundations of Agricultural and Extension Education
  • AEHS 595: Critical and Creative Thinking

Contributing Websites

Professional Honors/Offices/Recognitions

  • 2021 – Association of Leadership Education Rising Star: Early Career Leadership & Service Award
  • 2021 – Department of Agricultural & Human Sciences Teacher of Merit Nominee
  • 2020 – Association of Leadership Educators Outstanding Workshop
  • 2015 – Research Friend of North Carolina Extension
  • 2011 – Honorary State FFA Degree, Virginia
  • 2009 – Honorary State FFA Degree, New Jersey

Selected Publications

  • Jeuck, L. S., Jayaratne, K. S., Stumpf-Downing, M., Edwards, H., & McKee, K. (2023). Critical Competencies of 4-H Camp Staff for Achieving High Performance. The Journal of Extension, 61(2), Article 7.
  • Green, B., Bruce, J., McKee, K.E., Morgan-Fleming, J. & Edwards, H. (2022). Strategies for Diversity & Inclusion: A Case Study of Faculty Decision Making. NACTA Journal, 66.
  • Cunningham, G., Bruce, J., McKee, K., Jayaratne, K., & Correa, M. (2022). Assessment of the organizational culture of the cooperative extension system. Advancing Women in Leadership Journal, 41, 129-140.
  • Bruce, J.A.  & McKee, K.E. (2021). Teaching Social Justice in Agricultural Contexts in Gutherie, K & Cunhoo, V. (Eds.). Shifting the Mindset: Socially Just Leadership Education. Information Age Publishing.
  • McKee, K. & Bruce, J. (2021). Any movement of the needle: The Oaks Leadership Scholars represent themselves as learners, allies, advocates, and activists. Journal of Leadership Education
  • Codallo, M., Bruce, J., McKee, K., Jayaratne, J. (2020). Factors that Influence University Student Retention in Colleges of Agriculture. North American College and Teachers of Agriculture Journal. 64. 134-139.
  • Bruce, J.A., & McKee, K.E. (2020). Developing Advocate Identities. In J.A. Bruce & K.E. McKee (Eds.), Transformative leadership in action: Allyship, advocacy, & activism (pp. 149-162).  Emerald Publishing.
  • McKee, K.E. & Bruce, J.A. (2020). Developing Activist Identities. In J.A. Bruce & K.E. McKee (Eds.), Transformative leadership in action: Allyship, advocacy, & activism (pp. 185-198).  Emerald Publishing.
  • McKee, K.E. & Bruce, J.A. (2020). Becoming a Transformative Leader: The Student Leadership Activist Identity Continuum. In J.A. Bruce & K.E. McKee (Eds.), Transformative leadership in action: Allyship, advocacy, & activism (pp. 49-62).  Emerald Publishing.
  • Gonzalez, M., Kokozos, M., Byrd, C. M., & McKee, K. E. (2020). Critical Positive Youth Development: A Framework for Centering Critical Consciousness. JOURNAL OF YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, 15(6), 24–43.

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BS Agricultural Sciences Rutgers University

MS ED Curriculum and Instruction - Youth Development and Agricultural Education Purdue University

PhD Agricultural and Extension Education Virginia Tech

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Leadership Education


Date: 03/15/21 - 3/14/26
Amount: $499,635.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

The Animal Science Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (ASSURE) program is an experiential initiative that will provide Animal Science undergraduate students with hands-on research experiences, a detailed education on leadership and communication practices, and individualized mentorship and career guidance to strengthen US animal production. Our ASSURE program, which will target and recruit sophomore and junior baccalaureate students that are under-resourced (i.e., underrepresented, disabled, economically disadvantaged, rural and first generation college students), has three main objectives: (1) to create an intensive and extensive hands-on experience in applied and fundamental research, (2) to develop and refine essential workforce skills and enhance future employment, and (3) to strengthen and advance understanding of the opportunities available in food animal-related careers and graduate programs. Given that the theme of our ASSURE program is Research Advancing Sustainability in Animal Production, the cornerstone of this program is a 12-week Summer research experience that will include hands-on experience in applied and fundamental Animal Science research as well as Professional Development Fridays which will include instruction on leadership and communication practices, on-site tours of local animal agriculture industry facilities, and career guidance through mentoring meetings and career day panels from Animal Science experts in extension, industry, government, and academia professions. The intended impact of our ASSURE program is to educate and empower Animal Science undergraduates in order to enhance our ability to retain well qualified graduates in animal agriculture and strengthen the workforce in US food animal production.

Date: 09/30/20 - 9/29/22
Amount: $14,999.00
Funding Agencies: National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

Mental health issues and suicidal actions are increasing in rural populations, especially among agricultural producers (Anderson, 2009). Agriculture is an incredibly stressful vocation, and it is not getting easier. External factors including weather, the future of production, market prices and taxes, health care costs, and not having enough time away from working (Tutor Marcom et al., 2018) all contribute to the rising mental health crises among agricultural producers. When uncontrollable events, like a drought, occur, producers become more economically vulnerable, which adds to their mounting stress (Bryan and Garnham, 2013). Previous studies also identify that many producers have more negatively associated emotions than positive ones (Tutor Marcom et al., 2018). While agricultural producers may be able to recognize these issues, evidenced by increased requests for help relating to mental illness to the NC Agromedicine Institute, (Tutor Marcom et al., 2018), there is still evidence that producers feel that their ability to rely on others for mental and emotional support are severely lacking, and they are limited to coping mechanisms like repression and distraction (Tutor Marcom et al., 2018). Ultimately, they feel that they, alone, must shoulder the responsibility of keeping their operations afloat and provide enough for their families. While the mental health of producers continues to deteriorate, the instances of suicide and suicidal ideation continues to rise (Tutor Marcom, 2018). This project will provide funding for targeted mental health counseling targeting current and future ag producers.

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