“This Position Gives Me a Chance to Give Back”: New PDPS Extension Associate Mary Fosnaught

Mary Fosnaught laughing

The Prestage Department of Poultry Science is pleased to welcome Mary Fosnaught to the faculty starting October 3. We asked Fosnaught a few questions to introduce her as she settles in.

What’s your favorite thing about NC (so far)?

The people. I have lived in several states and countries, but I really enjoy the kindness and warmth of folks here in NC.

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

Hold your horses, there is a nuclear reactor on campus, and we are practically neighbors!

Tell us about your position and focus. What’s the most important thing for people to understand about what you do?

I am the 4-H and Youth Development Extension Associate for PDPS. The first step is to transition all of our great youth programs (Youth Market Turkey Show, Embryology, 4-H Poultry Judging Contests, PSSI, FFA Poultry Judging Contest, etc.) under one umbrella.

The next step will be to continue to enhance and diversify the programming that we offer so that we are engaging more youth across the state and across age groups. Young children are drawn to animals including our feathered species. However, if there is not dynamic programming to continue to draw youth to opportunities in poultry science, there is plenty of other great youth programming that competes and will redirect their interests to other fields.

Furthermore, I hope to improve awareness of poultry science as a more mainstream career option. Too often I feel that the profession of poultry science is being chosen through the back door; what I mean by this is that we come to poultry science as a career option by chance. For example, I happened to take an Animal Science class taught by a poultry scientist that gave us the option of competing on the Poultry Judging team or writing a term paper; you can guess which option I chose!

Poultry science should be seen as a viable career option even to young people; elementary school aged children are able to name dozens of professions, but somehow we need to get poultry science on that list.

What else should everyone know about you?

I grew up in rural Ohio where I was a 4-H’er from 8-18 years old.  I don’t think I would be here today in this capacity without the positive influence 4-H had on my life. The programming offered to me through 4-H taught me those invaluable life skills such as community outreach, teamwork, public speaking, discipline, etc.

This position gives me a chance to give back.

First internship I did as an undergrad was on a turkey farm in England which is where I met my Dutch husband. Learning to speak another language and appreciate another culture is a great tool to expand our understanding of the world.

Also, warning, I lived too long in The Netherlands, and I and my family eat mayonnaise on our fries. However, I have not made the full conversion; I do not eat drop (Dutch licorice on steroids).

What are you reading at the moment?

The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  I feel like there is so much of my own history that I don’t begin to understand.