Name: Samantha Lilley Hoggard
High School Attended: Riverside High School
Home County: Martin
College(s) Attended/ Years Attended: North Carolina State University (2013-2017) / University of Mount Olive (May 2021 – Present)
Major(s): Plant and Soil Sciences /Agricultural Business Management (MBA)
County Now Living In: Bertie
Employer: USDA – Farm Service Agency (Martin County Office)
Title: Program Technician
Years Working for Current Employer: 3
What are some of your major accomplishments during college?
In my time at N.C. State, I interned with Mount Olive Pickle Company and Martin County Soil and Water through the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program. I also did an agronomy internship with Black Gold Farms in Gum Neck, N.C. Through these internships, I made connections in the agriculture industry that still benefit me in my current employment.
What would you tell someone interested in applying for the Golden LEAF Scholarship about being a recipient?
I would tell them to apply without hesitation. Without this opportunity, I would not have my current job today. The Golden LEAF Scholarship also helped tremendously when paying for college. When I finished my Plant and Soil Science degree early in 3 years, I decided to double major so that I did not leave scholarship money on the table. I am so grateful for that opportunity.
What helped you decide to live, work, and serve a rural area?
I knew from the moment I moved to Raleigh that I wanted to go back home. Where I currently live is more rural than the neighboring county where I grew up; however, I still work in my home county, which keeps me rooted in my home community. I truly believe that I was never meant to live anywhere else than Eastern N.C.
What kind of leadership roles are you serving in currently?
I am the Program Technician in Martin County responsible for the disaster programs from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). I also currently serve on our employee association’s membership committee and have been nominated to attend a national leadership training later this year.
What did you learn during your experience with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program?
Through my experiences, I learned that I enjoy fieldwork, but I also enjoy interacting with farmers. The variety of internships I held ultimately led to my current job with the Martin County Farm Service Agency.
What internship experiences did you have through the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program?
I completed internships with Mount Olive Pickle Company and Martin County Soil and Water. Mount Olive was one of the most interesting internships I had during college. I scouted cucumbers for Downy Mildew, learned about grading cucumbers, worked on the loading docks, and monitored fertigation in cucumbers. With the Martin County Soil and Water, I rotated between their office and the Farm Service Agency, as they are across the hall from each other. I learned how to lay out drain tile and got an overview of some of their programs. The FSA office during the summer is very busy so they welcomed any help during crop reports. I filed paperwork and interacted with farmers as they were signing their paperwork.
Did your experiences with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program help shape your decision to live/ work in rural areas?
I always knew I wanted to come back home, but the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program opened more doors for me when I returned home from college. Applying for the program was honestly one of the best decisions that I ever made.