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Taking Ag To High School: Award-Winning Teacher (And CALS Alum) Jillian Ford

CALS Alumna Ag Teacher Jillian Ford

Name: Jillian Ford

Wolfpack Cred: B.S., Agricultural Education, NC State 2012; Masters, Agricultural Education, NC State 2013

Currently: Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor at Richlands High School, Onslow County

Recent Achievement: 2018 Outstanding Early Career Teacher, National Association of Agricultural Educators, Region 5 (Southeast)

CALS Alumna Ag Teacher Jillian Ford

Why did you decide to be an agriculture teacher?

My mom, who is a retired teacher, forced me to take horticulture when I started high school. At the time, I didn’t want to, but I’m really glad now. When my agriculture teacher started talking about FFA, I was hooked! I ended up becoming really involved in FFA throughout high school, even serving as a Southeast regional officer my senior year. When I began high school I already thought I wanted to be a teacher, but at the end of freshman year, I decided that I wanted to be a high school ag teacher and provide meaningful opportunities to students similar to what I had been provided.

Do you have a teaching philosophy?

I do, and it’s actually a whole page long! The short version is: It’s my job to provide relevant learning opportunities for my students. I am lucky to be able to teach skills that my students can use throughout their lives – everything from communication skills to how to grow your own vegetables. I try to tie everything we do to real-life situations. We look at careers a lot as well, so they’re learning about all of the awesome career opportunities in agriculture.

CALS Alumna Ag Teacher Jillian Ford

Tell us about the award you won.

I was selected as the outstanding early career teacher for Region 5, which is the southeast portion of the country. The award is based off of several factors, including a written application that explains your teaching philosophy and how it is implemented, supporting photos and a supervisor letter of recommendation. I’ll get to travel to San Antonio to accept the award for the NAAE national conference at end of November.

Why did you choose CALS at NC State for your education?

I knew I wanted to stay in North Carolina, and I knew NC State had an amazing reputation for ag education, one of the best in the country, so it really wasn’t a hard choice. But my decision was really solidified after I attended Farm Bureau’s Institute for Agricultural Leaders (IFAL) at NC State the summer between my junior and senior year.

And, bonus, it’s a family thing – my grandfather and one of my brothers were in CALS, and my other brother went to NC State for engineering.

Were you happy with your choice?


What’s the best advice you got while you were here?

Take every opportunity. Join those clubs, go on those trips, take the classes that sound fun! It will be worth your time. And don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.

CALS Alumna Ag Teacher Jillian Ford