Student, Alum, New Staff: Lisa O’Quinn Knows the Pack Inside and Out

Lisa O'Quinn in a red graduation cap

There’s a lot that’s not ‘business as usual’ right now. NC State’s COVID-19 response has a lot of folks working from home or otherwise adapting how they do their jobs. So, what’s it like to start a new job right now?

We asked Lisa O’Quinn, our new Chicken Education Unit (CEU) Research Technician. She’s got a unique perspective: she started out as an NC State student, graduated into our alumni family and then came back to work with us! Get to know Lisa and how her love of all things NC State and agriculture are driving her into a bright future.

What’s your favorite thing about NC?

Getting to experience the warm weather, the beaches and the blooming dogwood trees.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about NC State?

How much it is changing from my freshman year to now, a year after I graduated.

There are so many new buildings and initiatives being implemented and it’s really refreshing to witness NC State flourish.

Tell us about your position and focus.

I am the newest Research Technician at the Chicken Education Unit on Lake Wheeler Road.

When there is a project going on at the farm, it is part of my job to take care of the birds. This includes daily feedings, water refills, disposing of mortalities, cleaning the house(s), daily temperature recordings, weigh dates, collecting eggs, fat samples, load-out days, etc.

On the other hand, when there are little to no projects going on at the farm, my days are a little different. Tasks range from washing dirty equipment at the wash pit, fixing any broken equipment that I am capable of fixing, making feed runs, spraying weeds, checking eyewash stations and familiarizing myself with the different standard operating procedures (SOPs).

I really enjoy the hands-on aspect of the job with working with the live birds, but I also like being able to do handiwork outside when it’s warm out. This job and the location and the atmosphere around it all is a perfect balance for me.

What’s the most important thing for people to understand about what you do?

Although I am not a huge part of all the decision making of the different projects that go on at the farm, I am thoroughly involved with all the hard work and labor that goes into everything at the farm.

I am also given the opportunity to be a voice for the agricultural field because I am the only one in my family that chose a farming/agriculture career. I am an advocate for everything in the agricultural industry and I will stand up for what I have learned from my years studying at NC State and my years of working at NC State.

What else should everyone know about you?

I have been a huge NC State fan my whole life. My grandfather went to NC State, as well as my mother and father. I guess you can say I’m an NC State legacy student. My younger brother will be attending NC State as well.

I have a passion for everything agriculture.

I attended the NC State Ag day football games as a high school student and was highly involved with FFA and all the agriculture classes in high school. I guess you can say my love for agriculture started in high school and has grown from there.

I have a passion for everything agriculture and I hope to still be in this field for the rest of my life.

What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?

I have been watching multiple webinars on different ways to run a chicken house and I can’t wait to take my knowledge back to the farm once the COVID-19 situation has subsided.

I am currently diving into God’s Word during this time of being quarantined at home and not being able to work at the farm and I have also been listening to the advice and encouraging words of my church family during these times.

Any interesting or odd hobbies?

I consider myself to be very simplistic and am content doing the little things. I love taking my dog walking around my yard, I love watching The Office, I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking more during the week and I love trying new recipes, and I love spending time with my family.

You started just as COVID-19 changed how we do things – what’s that been like?

Having started working as a full-time employee during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is definitely trying at times because I wish I could be with my co-workers and working with my hands, but it is safest for us to all work from home.

But this gives me plenty of time to read into and study the SOPs that are already in place and the ones that are being written up during this time. I will just be so happy and relieved when all this has died down and I can go back to work.