WCC ag head gets N.C. FFA award
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 29, 2012 1:50 AM
The chairman of the agriculture and natural resources department at Wayne Community College has received one of the state Future Farmers of America's top awards.
Gabe Mitchell was recently presented an honorary State FFA degree during the N.C. FFA Association's annual convention.
The degree is bestowed upon exceptional teachers, individuals and companies for outstanding service to the state's agricultural education as well as the FFA organization.
There were 19 honorees from across the state this year, Mitchell said.
At 33, he is perhaps among the youngest to get the award. In years past, it has gone to such recipients as Steve Troxler, N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, former agriculture commissioner, Jim Graham, former Gov. Jim Hunt and the state's superintendent of schools, Dr. June Atkinson.
"I was honored and I was really shocked that I was receiving this, and very appreciative of the N.C. FFA for recognizing the efforts of us at Wayne Community College as well as myself," Mitchell said.
FFA, originally created in 1928 as Future Farmers of America, was changed in 1988 to the National FFA Organization to reflect the growing diversity of agriculture.
Today it is a youth organization related to agricultural education while preparing students for leadership, personal growth and career success. North Carolina has the eighth largest FFA program in the country, with more than 18,000 students and programs in 96 countries.
Mitchell's own interest in agriculture began while growing up on his family farm in the Seven Springs area.
While in high school at Eastern Wayne, he was involved in the FFA program, serving as secretary of the chapter.
He obtained his associate degree in applied animal science from WCC and a bachelor's degree in animal science with a minor in agribusiness management from N.C. State University.
He went on to teach agriculture and serve as FFA adviser at both Spring Creek and Rosewood high schools for five years. He was hired at WCC in 2007, starting out as an agribusiness instructor, and became department chairman in 2009.
Mitchell has been a member of the Wayne County Livestock Development Association for the past seven years and currently serves on its board of directors.
He and his wife, Donna, have a 4-year-old daughter, Sally. They live in Goldsboro.