CALS Student Helps “Lil’ Aggies” Make Big Splash at State Fair

Step under one of the sprawling livestock tents just behind the Graham Building during the N.C. State Fair, and you’re likely to see CALS student Rachel Brown hard at work.

The sophomore ag education major is already living her dream, teaching her nine “Lil’ Aggies” students (ages 4 to 12) the ins and outs of animal agriculture.

On this particular day, she helps one student shear his lamb, gives a lively pep talk to another who’s about to enter the show ring and deftly handles a last-minute “sheep-mergency” before judging begins. All while keeping her cool. Not to mention a smile on her face.

While an excellent teacher, Rachel is also an outstanding student, having won several scholarships: the A. Tab Williams Jr. Endowed Scholarship, W.B. “Bob’ Jenkins Ag Scholarship, and Winslow Foundation Scholarship.

Read on — and check out our video — to learn more about Rachel and get a peek behind the scenes of the State Fair Youth Livestock Show.

Why did you choose CALS?

I chose CALS because NC State is one of a few schools to offer agriculture education as a major, and I was fortunate enough to receive scholarships from CALS. We all know that you do not go into the agriculture field to make money; it’s because you want to feed and clothe the growing population. I also fell in love with my department and the family feel that it has, as do most of the CALS departments.

What do you hope to do with your degree?

My career goal is to implement and teach agriculture in elementary schools.

Tell us about what you do as a 4-H youth livestock program assistant. Why do you enjoy it?

I assist Brent Jennings, our 4-H youth livestock agent, in planning and carrying out different livestock events for the 4-Hers of NC.  We put on several livestock judging, skillathon and quizbowl events throughout the year, as well as clinics and leadership workshops with our end goal of taking a team to nationals. I love my job because every day I get to provide opportunities for youth to grow in agriculture and learn tactical skills that can be used in the livestock field, and in the process, I have learned about the livestock industry and have been able to travel and see the industry in different settings.

What other activities are you involved in?

Outside of the classroom, I am involved in the Agriculture Extension & Education Club, Young Farmers & Ranchers, Collegiate FFA, and Sigma Alpha-Professional Agriculture Sorority here at school. At home, I am assistant barn manager and head of the Got to Be NC Children’s Program at Stokes Co. Agriculture Fair, a part of the barn crew for Patrick County Agriculture Fair, and have taught agriculture to nine homeschoolers for three years.

What have you learned in CALS that you’ll take with you when you graduate?

I could write a book on the things I’ve learned here since I started a year ago that I plan to take with me after I graduate, simply because as a future educator, even if the class material doesn’t pertain to agriculture, I can learn from how the teacher teaches.  One of my favorite things I look forward to taking with me into my classroom is from my gamebird management class, where I learned how to raise and process poultry.

What advice do you have for students just starting out in CALS?

I would tell new CALS students to diversify your involvement. CALS has a lot to offer, so step out of your concentration and see what is going on in all areas of agriculture, especially while you can here before you are out in your field.
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