The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Agricultural Institute (AGI) are increasing their efforts to expand awareness of their two-year degree programs. AGI recently brought on alumna Kaylee Gabriel whose role focuses on enhancing recruitment efforts and boosting student enrollment at the institute.
The new position gives the institute greater leverage to concentrate its recruiting efforts as she tackles existing initiatives and forges ahead with new ones.
“The main goal is to increase enrollment and knowledge of AGI,” Gabriel explains. “People in our office say that AGI is the best-kept secret. My responsibility is making us more well-known and networking.”
This includes building awareness locally: “I went to high school 30 minutes from NC State’s campus, and I didn’t even know that AGI [existed]. We need to bridge those gaps.”
Gabriel began her role with AGI in January 2022 equipped with a bachelor’s degree in animal science with a concentration in industry and business and a minor in agricultural business and management from NC State University.
Though Gabriel didn’t grow up on a farm, she developed an interest in agriculture while in high school. She was the FFA vice president for her high school chapter, and, during the summers, she raised turkeys to show at the NC State Fair.
During her college career at NC State, Gabriel volunteered in swine research. Following graduation, she worked at Central Crops Research Station as a swine research technician while assisting with a variety of row crop commodities.
A year and a half later, she landed at Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory in the swine education unit, managing the nursery and finishing barns. Her time at the facility granted her the opportunity to work alongside CALS students and guide their activities in the labs. Teaching the ins and outs of pig production provided valuable experience as a mentor, ultimately leading her toward recruiting. She relates to students who, like her, don’t have a farming background.
When her time at the swine education unit ended, she knew she didn’t want to leave agriculture.
“I want to bring more people into it, especially as the youth get further and further away from what agriculture is,” says Gabriel.
Recruitment is the perfect fit for her. “I still get to work with students, have my hand in agriculture, and make a huge impact.”
As a recruiter, Gabriel hopes to attract students who have a passion for agriculture and animals, even if they are unsure of their professional goals.
“They are people like me who didn’t come from a farming background might not have had the experience to know if they’re passionate about agriculture yet,” Gabriel says. “AGI is so diverse in its degree offerings. Students can figure out what they like.”
AGI offers two-year degrees that provide students with hands-on experiences they can directly apply to real-world situations, helping them enter the professional world after graduation with confidence.
AGI’s courses have the advantages of smaller class sizes, contributing to a feeling of belonging within a larger university community.
Gabriel has a unique insight into this close academic community as a CALS alumna. “With AGI, I can feel how close-knit it is, and it’s not only within our office. Every student who comes in knows us, and that’s something I’m excited about. I want everyone to know everyone, and I love our tight-knit community.”
The college’s commitment to agriculture and life science education serves as the foundation for AGI’s vision to equip students for long, satisfying careers in the industry. For this reason, Gabriel believes part of her mission is to dispel students’ misconceptions about agriculture and introduce new generations to contemporary farming.
“I’m really excited for the impact that I will have on North Carolina agriculture,” she says.
This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.