“Teaching; that’s the most important thing we can do.”
Dr. Amy Johnson, new Ag Institute Coordinator of General Agriculture and Field Crop Technology, also teaches Crop and Soil Fertility classes in the Ag Institute. “Teaching. That’s the most important thing we can do.”
A native of Satellite Beach, Florida, Amy earned her B.S. at Warren Wilson College outside Asheville, NC, where she worked on a student-run farm and began her appreciation of soil. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Sciences here at NC State, then taught at the University of Tennessee and University of Mount Olive.
And now that she’s on board in Crop and Soil Sciences? “Everywhere you go in this state, every farmer, anybody involved in agriculture in North Carolina has a connection to NC State. That’s pretty cool.”
After both university research and teaching, she’s realized she prefers the latter. “I came here to have the chance to teach Ag Institute kids. It’s all hands-on, and ‘How does that relate to me?’ I really like that. It’s more challenging and rewarding.”
Her students are definitely hands on. “We’re in the planning stages for growing barley, for malting. The local microbreweries want to know how to grow barley, to say they use all local.” Another hands-on project: “We’re working to get the Fike Teaching Garden up and going again. It’s moved to a new site. The students will plan it…it will be an outdoor teaching field lab!”
“I can make a huge difference teaching students to go on into agriculture. We can make a huge difference by giving them a different perspective. After they earn their degree, even if they never leave North Carolina, at least I will have given them a perspective of something else. They’ll realize our trade with Brazil, or China–they’ll know why it’s important: ‘If my family’s growing cotton, and China’s involved in the global cotton market, how does that affect my farm’s cotton sales?’”
Dr. Amy Johnson sees teaching as a bridge, making it possible for Ag Institute students to use their agricultural knowledge to interact with the rest of the world. “It’s no longer just you living on your farm, doing your thing. It’s global agriculture now.”