Essentially CALS: Will Leatherwood

With animals in need of daily care, activity on Lake Wheeler Road continues despite COVID-19. Research Technician Will Leatherwood supports that work.

“Will has been one of our most critical employees for almost a decade,” said Carl Hollifield interim director for the NC State’s Dairy Enterprise System and associate director for the Southeast Dairy Foods Research Center.

While campus life is looking quite different in the past few months, “activities at the dairy have not changed very much,” Leatherwood says. “We still carry out our normal duties.” A typical day on the farm is much the same these days as before March 16, but workers are required to keep a record of whom they have had contact with while at work to help track possible virus exposure.

Will is a model for hard work and continuing education, and we’re very proud to have him working on the dairy farm.

“The animals at the dairy rely on all of our employees to care for them,” Leatherwood said. “It is not possible for the cows to take a day off from milking or eating. These are just the basics that must be done every day. On top of this there is a plethora of other duties that we must complete in order to ensure the health and well-being of the animals as well as maintaining the equipment and facilities.”

Starting his career with the dairy as a student worker, Leatherwood milked cows between classes as he studied for his bachelor’s degree, managed feed trials while working on his master’s degree and now, he’s the farm’s assistant manager while pursuing a Ph.D.

With campus operations drastically reduced, a significant percentage of milk sales have been lost. The dairy team has taken steps to reduce the amount of milk produced on a daily basis. Leatherwood hopes to return to normal as soon as possible.

“Will is a strategically important employee who lives on the farm with his wife and kids and manages all the emergencies that present on a daily basis,” Hollifield said. “Will is a model for hard work and continuing education, and we’re very proud to have him working on the dairy farm.”

Thank you for all you do for everyone at CALS.

Have a coworker who is an essential employee and deserves recognition? Email