Laying the Foundation for an Agricultural Career

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Originally published in CALS News by Kristin Sargent, CALS Communications Content Strategist

 

Lynn Worley-Davis grew up surrounded by agriculture in rural Northampton County, where many folks produced cotton, peanuts, pigs and chickens.

Like many young women in the 1980s, Lynn wanted to become a veterinarian. When NC State University admitted its first class to the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981, it became her topchoice. It also helped that Lynn grew up an NC State fan. But she also recalls a “flurry of women” coming to NC State for the vet school soon after that first class.

“Women were getting into the agricultural workforce and were coming to school and becoming vets. There are a lot of female vets around my age because of that surge of women,” Lynn explains.

Lynn was admitted into the zoology program but soon transferred to Animal Science thinking she’d be one of those women going on to vet school. However, later she changed her mind about vet school, deciding she didn’t want to work with livestock, but adding a poultry science degree.

After earning her bachelor’s degrees and working in the poultry industry for 11 years, she made her way back to NC State to work on research and undergraduate projects. It was there she found her niche and her love for teaching and advising students.

“One of the things we try to stress with students is to not to be narrow-minded, try not to be tunnel-visioned. Always have a Plan B. I think my life has been a Plan B from day one. I never ever planned to do what I’m doing or to be where I am now,” Lynn says.

Lynn loves showing students the application of science in the real world and showing students that a degree in poultry science is more than building chicken houses and raising chickens.

Sometimes the stigma that’s attached to a lot of agricultural programs is that you’re going to be a farmer, but she says it’s so much more. It’s also about getting past the stigma that a career in agriculture isn’t grand. Lynn will agree it’s a tough industry, especially when dealing with elements out of your control like weather.

“You have to be on your toes, always thinking and being that critical problem-solver every single day. It’s tough, but at the end of the day it makes you stronger.”

And no matter how others might perceive the industry, agriculture is necessary.

It’s important for us as agriculturalists and scientists to make sure everybody knows how important agriculture is to our state, to the United States and globally.

For Lynn, NC State University and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) have been a second home. Now a teaching assistant professor and the director of undergraduate programs for the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, Lynn earned two bachelor’s degrees in animal science and poultry science from CALS in 1986, a master’s degree in agricultural education in 2012 and an Ed.D. in 2018.

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