Amanda Lay-Walters: Sustainability in Small Fruit Production
NC State is filled with numerous memories and achievements for Amanda Lay-Walters, a Department of Horticultural Science master of science candidate. When COVID-19 shifted everyone to online platforms, it was the connections to fellow Wolfpackers that left the greatest impression. Faculty, staff and students were nearby and ready to discuss plant solutions.
After being named a Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Fellow, Amanda is seeking to improve farming systems and make them more sustainable. Lay-Walters will continue her academia and small fruits research as she earns a doctoral degree with the University of Arkansas.
What has been your favorite memory at NC State and CALS?
My favorite NC State memory was meeting my husband in Broughton Hall. My favorite College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) memory was probably getting a free Howling Cow from Dr. Crouse with friends on the last day of our IPM course.
What has been your greatest achievement or accomplishment during your time at NC State and CALS?
My greatest achievement in CALS is a tie between getting accepted into my graduate program and when I was accepted as a CEFS Fellow. My greatest accomplishment for NC State, in general, has definitely been all the connections I’ve been able to make both in the college and across campus.
What impact do you hope to have in your chosen field?
I really hope that I can make people’s lives better. I want to improve farming systems to help farmers and consumers. By improving farming systems to be more sustainable I can help people in the grand scheme of things.
What has your final year been like at NC State and CALS? How have you overcome recent challenges, whether it’s transitioning to online classes or the absence of campus life?
My final year has been really interesting, to say the least. Some days are really hard and I have to hold myself a lot more accountable, but I took it as an opportunity to grow and become more independent as a student. In this last year, I feel far more confident in what I am doing and where I want to go moving forward.
What are you most grateful for from the university and CALS as you are about to earn your degree?
I am really grateful for this department. I always tell people who just started or who are thinking of coming to the horticulture program that you’re really never alone here. Before COVID I knew that if I had a question or a problem I could go to faculty, staff, or other students’ offices to get help finding a solution. Even during COVID, I know so many people are just a text or email away. In a lot of other programs, there are faculty or administrators who are hard to approach, but we have nationally acclaimed researchers who are more than happy to help when you have questions about their area of expertise. I really don’t think I could have gotten through my bachelor’s or master’s without the people that make up this department.
What are your career plans post-graduation?
I have been accepted to a Ph.D. program in horticulture at the University of Arkansas, which will also focus on small fruit production. I am extremely excited at this prospect and hope to continue in academia and research. I will start in January 2022.
Do you see yourself studying sustainability and/or food production?
Learn about our graduate programs and begin your future with food or plant production, working to improve sustainability in agriculture, making a local and global impact,