Lendy Johnson: Focusing on North Carolina Agriculture Advocacy
Lendy Johnson is a jack of all trades in her current role as the director of organization for the North Carolina Farm Bureau; however, her primary focus is advocating for the agricultural industry.
“It’s hard not to get behind agriculture in North Carolina. It’s the strongest, largest economic driver in the state. The past, present and future of our state is dependent on this industry,” says Johnson, a 2006 and 2011 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“I’m in the business of people and helping them be the best advocates for agriculture and keeping our organization strong and respected as it has been for the past 86 years,” she adds.
Agriculture spans generations across Johnson’s family. Despite not growing up on a farm, the Caswell County native comes from a farming family where it runs in her blood.
“My mother stayed with her aunt and uncle who had a tobacco farm. They grew a lot of their own food and had their own cows,” Johnson says.
She always had an appreciation for it, which grew throughout her time in high school. As a freshman at Bartlett Yancey High School, Johnson became involved with the North Carolina Future Farmers of America Association (FFA). She served in various leadership roles and credits this experience for sparking a deeper love and respect for agriculture.
“My senior year I thought I was going to college to be a doctor. I had all of my prerequisites,” Johnson says. “But we had been going to NC State throughout high school for different events.” During those events, she met several faculty who taught agriculture and extension education.
“I liked the vibe and they felt like family and friends. I really like that culture,” Johnson shares. She also knew she wanted to run for state FFA office and wasn’t quite ready to leave her agriculture education experience behind.
Johnson graduated from NC State University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and began teaching agriculture at Millbrook High School in Raleigh.
“Teaching was a growing and good experience for me. Then I felt like I wanted to go back and get my master’s degree to teach pre-service teachers agricultural education. I really had a passion for updating the curriculum that we were teaching because it felt like our current curriculum was behind,” Johnson says.
After completing her master’s in 2011, Johnson immediately began working at the North Carolina Farm Bureau as a field representative.
“The Farm Bureau is engaged with local politicians and elected officials all the way up to our state congressional delegation to talk about issues impacting farmers, their operations and communities,” Johnson explains. In 2015, the president of the organization promoted Johnson to her current role.
“I work very closely with the president, helping him manage some of his day-to-day responsibilities. I coordinate our annual conventions and work with county organizations as well as help maintain our scholarship programs and partnerships,” she says.
Johnson says it’s great being a part of something that’s integral and important to the future of North Carolina, country and world.
“You could not find a better group of people who are engaged in agriculture. We may have differences of opinions, but at the end of the day, everyone works together for the betterment of our farmers and our state. It’s rewarding to be a part of that.”
Johnson was honored as a CALS Outstanding Young Alumni during the CALS annual Alumni Awards ceremony hosted on Sept. 18.