College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Category
When the kids run around in Oxford, N.C., in the summer and see town staple Charlie Easton and his full white beard hanging well below his chin, they ask the inevitable question: Is he Santa?
“What I tell them is that I’m Santa’s best friend and I help him out,” says Easton.
And it’s this time of the year when Easton, 76, says he helps his friend out the most by embodying the jolly old elf, donning the red suit as “Santa” Charlie in holiday parades and at Triangle malls and private functions.
“It’s the best job I ever had,” says Easton, who graduated from NC State’s Agricultural Institute and worked for 35 years in the textile industry. “I tell people I’m just a granddaddy whose grandchildren got too big to sit on his lap. So now I get to hold everybody else’s.”
Easton can be seen regularly sitting on his throne at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, his main station for helping Santa out the last seven years. He started about 10 years ago when he first rode as Kris Kringle in the Oxford Christmas parade. He has his own Santa business card and had to go through a job interview that would objectify candidates if it was any other profession. “They just look at you and see what you look like,” Easton says.
His routine starts in early November with his annual swig of cold medicine to fight the cough he knows he’s going to get. He and other area Santas get a tour at Toys “R” Us to acquaint themselves with what the children ask for. The only day Easton gets off during the season is Thanksgiving. He works in four-to-five-hour shifts and will continue to hold babies and judge the naughty and nice right up until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Every Christmas season, Easton comes up with a theme to develop. This year, it includes his charge to each child who sits on his lap with telling their parents they love them on Christmas morning. (“That’s the greatest gift they can give,” he says.) And he has a little toy, Pete the Penguin, which he says is usually a pretty good remedy to get an unruly or scared child engaged.
There are his regulars who come by, like a group of ladies who are in their 90s who come by every year to have their picture taken with him. And there are always firsts for him, like last year when he got to hold 9-month-old quintuplets.
Or like the time when a daughter requested her mother and father sit on his lap for a pic, only to be surprised by their other daughter, who had been deployed in Afghanistan for 15 months, popping around the corner. “Everybody cried that day,” he says. “Even Santa.”
In his decade of evoking Santa’s spirit, Easton has seen things change. He’s had to deal with the explosion of Elf on the Shelf, the popular toy that “watches” children’s behavior up until the day of Christmas. Children’s wants have changed from footballs and dolls to iPhones and iPads.
And kids have become more inquisitive about how Santa delivers all those toys. “You know, a lot of houses don’t have chimneys,” he says. “I tell them I have a mouse that can get in their house and let me in.”
But what hasn’t changed is Easton’s sense of joy this time of year and his faith in the spirit of Christmas.
“You’d be surprised at the number of children who come up and ask that all the children who don’t have anything get a present from me this year,” he says. “I still believe in Santa.”
If you are ever out in Hurdle Mills, N.C., at the Rock of Ages Winery and Vineyard and you happen upon a familiar shade of red at a tasting, understand it’s deliberate.
“Brushy Fork Red is our best seller,” says Rock of Ages’ owner Kevin Moore, who graduated from NC State with an economics degree in 1984. “It’s an NC State red.”
Moore, who had formerly been a stockbroker and also owns Hard Rock Marble & Tile in Hillsborough, N.C., says he made the move to wine in 2002, when he had some land that he didn’t want to simply give up to development. Instead, he wanted to find some way to actually use the land, which has been in his family in Person County since the 1700s.
“And I thought it woudl be a great asset for the community,” he says. “I thought it could mean some good things for the rural community.”
Kevin and Kim Moore
Though Moore came into the wine market with a business background, he got a enology and viticulture degree from Surry Community College to help him learn the science of wine making. And it’s that element that’s kept him and his wife, Kim, with whom he owns the winery, loving the business for more than 10 years now.
“Starting a vineyard in an entire new area is like a kid in the candy store,” he says. “We grow 17 different varieties on 26 acres. We’re trying to couple wine making with the grape-growing.”
While the science is fun for Moore, he says understanding the politics of getting a wine on the retailers’ shelves has been hard work. He says more famous and well-established wines may not necessarily want to see a local winery’s product on a shelf, and so there’s always a need for constant monitoring to make sure Rock of Ages’ wines are where they need to be in a retailer.
Moore’s had hire a sales manager who does nothing but monitor retailers to make sure prices are correct and to see if the wine has been hidden, say, behind potato chips. “You have to go out and fight for almost every bottle you sell,” Moore says.
Rock of Ages also hosts weddings, private gatherings and free events for the public. But if you’re ever there, you bet you won’t see any light blue products.
“For obvious reasons, we don’t want to make a Carolina blue wine,” Moore says, laughing.
Rock of Ages Winery is one of dozens of vendors – including restaurants, farms, breweries, wineries and bakeries – participating in the Red & White Food and Beverage Festival during the week of homecoming. All of the vendors have NC State connections, with alumni as owners or managers. The festival is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at The State Club in the Park Alumni Center. Visit the festival website to register and see a full list of vendors participating.
Casey Woody’s mother had but two simple rules for him when he was growing up in Bakersville, N.C., and he’d spend the majority of his life defying them.
Casey Woody hunts big game out West but has recently turned to the growing niche of bowfishing.
“She told me, ‘There’s two things that you’ll never do…hunt with a bow and race motorcycles,’” says Woody, laughing. “And from that point on, that was about all I ever did.”
While motorcross racing turned into more of a hobby for the 31-year-old, he turned his love of bowhunting into a career. After he graduated in 2005 with a degree in CALS, he wanted to pursue his love of hunting, but knew the white-tailed deer he coveted would lead him on expensive trips out West.
“Big-time hunts to hunt dear cost big money,” Woody says. “So I knew the only way to go was as a guide. I started to call outfitters and make lots of contacts.”
So Woody has been a hunting guide for the last nine years. He says that to be successful, a good guide needs to love hunting and know the terrain.
And the work gave Woody a chance to make friends with the guys on the camera crews who would come along and film some of the hunts for shows on television networks like the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel.
He became so enamored with what they do that he bought himself an HD camera and editing software and taught himself how to shoot video and put together DVDs of his own. That led him to executive produce shows such as Ironman Bowfishing, where hunters use bows to kill invasive fish species like Asian carp.
Though the videography work has given Woody another outlet in which to pursue his love, it’s the actual hunting that’s at the heart of what he does.
“I got to do what I love this morning,” Woody says over the phone from Wyoming, fresh off of a hunt. ” I got my hands bloodied, and I got to see a guy kill his first mule deer.”
As a kid growing up in Thomasville, N.C., Seth Hibbett never traveled north of West Virginia. But that’s not to say he wasn’t familiar with the terrain when he landed a job as a groundskeeper for the Boston Red Sox.
Hibbett knows baseball, having played regularly as a kid. And Hibbett, who graduated from NC State earlier this year with a degree in turfgrass science, understands what it takes to maintain the grounds for an athletic facility. Hibbett worked on the golf courses at Pinehurst Resort while he was in school at NC State, and had done an internship with the Red Sox.
“The big difference is a baseball field is an acre-and-a-half, two acres, tops, whereas a golf courses has 100s of acres of grass and turf and bunkers to maintain,” he asays. “A major league baseball fields involves a lot of fine-tuning of things.”
But, Hibbett says, “the basic principles are going to be about the same.”
Hibbett was surprised to see how small Fenway Park was when he first arrived in Boston. “It’s very personal,” he says. “It has a lot of history to it. It’s a very cool park.”
Hibbett’s duties range from mowing the grass in the outfield to fixing the dirt on the mound. But he spends the majority of his time – as much as 90 percent of his days – working on the dirt in the infield, around home plate and on the mound. “We are making sure that they are up to specifications and that the moisture is right,” he says.
Some pitchers, he says, ask them to make specific modifications to the mound on the days they pitch. But he says that they typically try to keep the field and the dirt the same from game to game.
Hibbett’s work is typically done before the game begins, with a part-time crew coming in to handle anything needed during the game. So Hibbett is often not there when the Red Sox play. When he does stick around, Hibbett sits along the first-base side about halfway down the line — a similar view to those in ground level seats at $200 a ticket.
“Seeing players that you’ve kind of known about your whole life, seeing them in person, it’s very surreal,” he says. “It’s pretty cool.”
Hibbett says he was not a fan of any particular team growing up as a kid, but that his loyalties are with the Red Sox now. And he likes their chances as the postseason approaches.
“I think the Red Sox will make a real shot at the World Series,” he says. “They have a deep, consistent roster and a solid rotation.”
It wasn’t that long ago that NC State was a collection of schools, not colleges. But then, of course, NC State itself was once a college.
But on this day in 1987, the university’s Board of Trustees voted to change the names of all the schools to colleges. No longer would NC State have a School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It would now have a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. (At least CALS makes for a better acronym than SALS, although there is no indication that was a factor in the trustees’ decision.)
The Graduate School and the School of Design were the two exceptions to the change. The dean of the design school said at the time that other prominent design schools, such as those at Harvard and Columbia, were designated as schools rather than colleges, according to an account in the Technician. Design has since taken on the “college” designation, while the Graduate School remains the same.
The move for the rest of the schools was suggested by Durwood Bateman, dean of what was then the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, so that NC State could keep pace with other universities.
He said the use of the term “schools” was a leftover from the days when NC State was the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, or “State College” for short.
Rudolph “Rudy” Pate grew up on a tobacco farm in Robeson County, where he learned about the plowing, curing and harvesting of tobacco. He was active in the 4-H, serving as president of the Robeson County Council of 4-H Clubs and winning the county corn championship one year.
But as the valedictorian at Barker Ten Mile High School (so named because it sat halfway between the Barker Methodist Church and the Ten Mile Baptist Church), Pate wanted to write. He had covered the local beat for The Robesonian, the local newspaper in Lumberton, in addition to his farm duties and a part-time job at the Robeson County Cold Storage Company. Pate also knew he wanted to go to NC State, even though it didn’t have a journalism school to help him become a writer.
In the end, it didn’t matter. After graduating from NC State in 1943 with a degree in agricultural education, Pate was was able to combine his knack for storytelling with his love for NC State to become the man in charge of telling the university’s story. As the longtime head of the university’s Office of Information Services and then the university’s vice chancellor for foundations and university relations, Pate was known throughout North Carolina as the man who always had a good tale to tell about NC State and its people.
Pate, who served NC State for a total of 35 years, died Tuesday. He was 93.
“The biggest thrill in my work has been to see NCSU, in my lifetime, grow from a small land grant college to one of America’s 25 top public research universities — an amazing accomplishment,” Pate wrote after he retired from NC State in 1985.
A story in the Alumni Association’s magazine following his retirement described Pate as a “grinning Robeson County farm boy” who knew how to promote his beloved university with homespun stories. The story quoted an unnamed university benefactor talking about his experience with Pate: “I had some money in my pocket once. Got to missing it and thought someone had stolen it. Come to find out, Rudy had talked me out of it.”
But no matter how Pate was described, the story said, most people considered Pate a friend and treasured “the good humor that radiates from him like warmth from a cozy stove. And if, in the glow of a shared laugh, he begins to talk about the important contributions of North Carolina State University, most people find themselves persuaded.”
During his years as a student at NC State, Pate worked in the College News Bureau and wrote for the Technician and The Wataugan, a campus humor and literary magazine. During his senior year, Pate was editor of The Agriculturist, a magazine published by students in the School of Agriculture. He was a member of the YMCA Cabinet, the Student Government Council and Golden Chain, the university’s top honor society.
Upon graduation, Pate went to work as an agriculture teacher at his old high school. It wasn’t long, though, before he felt the pull back to NC State. Within a few months, Pate returned to work at the College News Bureau. A few years later, Pate returned home to Lumberton when The Robesonian offered him a job as city editor. Five months later, Chancellor John Harrelson traveled to Lumberton to convince Pate to come back to NC State, according to a 1952 story in The News & Observer naming Pate “Tar Heel of the Week.”
Pate would go on to serve 19 years as director of the State College News Bureau and 16 years as head of the university’s development and public relations efforts. Between those two periods, he served as associate director of the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta and as assistant to UNC President William Friday, a friend from their days as students at NC State.
Pate was well respected by reporters and editors throughout North Carolina, in part because of his willingness to deal with them on unfavorable stories about the university as well as those that told of the university’s accomplishments.
The “Tar Heel of the Week” story about Pate summarized his philosophy on negative stories: “The quicker you get them over with, the better. Get out all the truth as quickly as possible. That means fewer stories, and the story will die and be forgotten more quickly.”
But Pate loved to tell of the university’s many achievements, even if it required extra reading at home to make sure he understood the work being done in areas such as nuclear physics engineering. He would then write stories about NC State on his Royal typewriter (he employed the hunt-and-peck method with his two pointer fingers.).
Pate’s wife, Paige, also did her part to promote the university — even if it meant resorting to a bit of superstition. In 1967, The Raleigh Times told the story of a red-and-white herringbone skirt that she wore when NC State played Duke in football. The team won three straight years against Duke when Pate wore the lucky skirt. “I’m real happy State won Saturday, but I’m more inclined to think it was because of Earle Edwards and the boys and not my skirt,” she told the newspaper.
During his years at NC State, Pate chaired the committee that created the Watauga Medal and was a member of the committee that created the plans for creating the University of North Carolina Television Network. Private donations to the university and its foundations increased from $1.3 million a year to $6.8 million a year in 1984, according to an account at the time of his retirement.
Even in retirement, Pate continued to serve the university. He was a consultant in the construction of the Park Alumni Center, home of the Alumni Association, on Centennial Campus. His daughter, Mary Paige, and her husband, Bill Murray, are both graduates of NC State.
“NCSU provided ‘a window to the world’ for me, as a student, and opened up the doors for me,” Pate wrote upon his retirement. “With the help of many fine people (and especially Paige), I was able to walk through those doors and proceed to this point in my life. I will, therefore, always be indebted to the University for its guidance and inspiration and hope, in some minor manner, to be able to continue to assist it.”
Pate, who lived in Georgetown, S.C., is survived by his daughter, Mary Paige Murray, son-in-law, Bill Murray, of Georgetown, S.C., his granddaughter, Cameron Kelly, her husband, Chad Kelly, of Raleigh, and brother and sister-in-law, Eugene and Phyllis Pate of Lumberton, N.C.
The family will receive visitors at 1 p.m. Friday at Mitchell Funeral home, 7209 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh. Funeral services will follow at 2 p.m. Interment will be at Raleigh Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Rudolph Pate Endowment, N.C. State Alumni Association, attn: Becky Bumgardner, Office of University Development, Campus Box 7501, Raleigh, N.C., 27695-7501 or Tidelands Hospice, 2591 N. Fraser St., Georgetown, S.C., 29440.
NC State has had 14 chancellors lead the university throughout it’s history, but none resisted the job more than Carey Bostian, who served as chancellor from 1953-59.
In the summer of 1953, he was unanimously elected to succeed John Harrelson, and Bostian agreed to take the job under one condition — that he be allowed to step down in just a couple of years. And it was on this day 60 years ago that he took office as the chancellor of NC State College.
He eventually stayed in the position for six years and dealt with a larger faculty role in running the college, students wanting more campus freedoms and the beginnings of the integration debate on campus.
Despite his administration’s challenges, Bostian served as a needed leader during a time of changing dynamics at NC State. “The college was undergoing various stresses in the 1950s with the burgeoning enrollments and limited autonomy under the UNC Consolidated University,” Hardy D. Berry wrote in Place Names on the campus of North Carolina State University.
Bostian stepped down in 1959 to return to what he loved best — teaching. He won the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award in 1968 and retired from teaching at NC State in 1973, after more than 40 years of service to the university. Today, Bostian Hall, which houses the botany, entomology, microbiology and zoology departments, bears his name.
In the 1947 Agromeck‘s dedication, the staff wrote that Bostian was “a wise counselor, a true friend, and an inspiration to all.”
Former Student Body President Norris Tolson likes to kid fellow Wolfpacker Jim Hunt about the former governor’s knack for politics even before he ran for state office.
“He had a machine long before he became a politician in state government,” Tolson, a 1962 graduate of NC State, said in an interview with the Student Leadership Initiative. The NCSU Libraries project chronicles former student leaders’ time on campus. “He had a machine at NC State so a lot of us who had been in [Future Farmers of America] were recruited into the Governor Hunt machine when he was at NC State.”
Tolson talked about how an emphasis on leadership in his high school experience in Pinetops, N.C., led to a seamless transition into influential roles when he arrived at what he called “the big city.” “So I got very involved early on and it just became a way of life,” Tolson said. “I enjoyed it, I enjoy that, I still enjoy being involved in policy making.”
That involvement in policy-making has always come easy for Tolson, who serves on the NC State Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association’s board of directors. He’s also worked in state government and is the president and CEO of the N.C. Biotechnology Center, a nonprofit funded by the state to accelerate commercialization of science and technology coming from the university and private researchers.
In Tolson’s five interviews with the Student Leadership Initiative, he discussed how campus leadership forces student participants to balance service with their schoolwork. And he stressed the importance of the university’s honor code during his time on campus.
“That was in the day when you violated the rules you got kicked out,” he said. “You didn’t get mollycoddled or you didn’t get pampered. You were kicked out of school, and that was a very serious offense for a young person at NC State.”
It’s not often that students in a 200-level biology class get their work displayed in a state museum. But that’s what’s happened with the detailed drawings done by the students in Jennifer Landin’s Biological Illustration class.
Landin, a teaching assistant professor who received her Ph.D. from NC State in 2011, began teaching the class in 2010. The goals of the course, along with helping students learn about the diversity of life, are to emphasize the power of observation and how drawing can enhance it. Students use pen and ink to record their observations about structures and forms as they learn about how those structures and forms evolved.
Work from Landin’s students was on exhibit earlier this year at the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island, and since May, 36 pieces have been on display at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. The detailed drawings include studies of the anatomy of a mosquito head, a comparison of two types of mushrooms, and the mechanism of toe adhesion in a gecko.
Landin says drawing skills aren’t necessary to succeed in the class. “I teach little tricks the very first week,” she says. “The important thing is getting them to observe closely.” Students who have taken the course include majors in biology and art and design and well as majors in engineering, history and English. The class started with only nine students. Today it is so popular that it fills to the maximum of 20; a second section is routinely added.
When Landin was growing up, she was torn between science and art. “I always enjoyed drawing and art and science — and then when I went to get my undergraduate degree, they didn’t allow interdisciplinary majors,” Landin says. She ended up choosing science, but put herself through graduate school by working as a graphic designer. She later got a job as a scientific illustrator at the University of Florida. At NC State, her doctoral research centered on using drawing as a tool to develop observational skills.
Landin loves the fact that biological illustrations allow students to use their art work to teach others. When they show off their portfolios and display their drawings, they also share excitement for biology.
The exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences will be up until July 31.
—Sylvia Adcock ’81
The Alumni Association is honoring 21 NC State professors with the 2013 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.
Today we’re visiting with Shannon Pratt-Phillips, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Pratt-Phillips is one of seven professors being recognized as Alumni Association Outstanding Teachers.
What prompted you to become a professor? I became a professor because I loved my own university experience, and I wanted to give other students the same opportunities to learn to love education, and to learn how to reach their goals. I also wanted to have an impact on horse health in terms of nutrition, both directly (through conducting research in this area), and indirectly (through my students – future veterinarians, equine facility operators, current or future horse owners).
What are the keys to being a successful teacher/professor? I think students get excited about a topic – and therefore learn it better – if you (as the instructor) are excited and passionate about it. I try to have a balance between my own life (and horse ownership) experiences and practical, factual information. I try to show lots of videos, keep students updated with current events in the industry, and show how the information we discuss is relevant and useful for them (even if they’ll never own or touch a horse!)
What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? I think knowing students are actually excited to come to my class is a nice feeling. Of course, seeing the students graduate, go on to graduate or veterinary school, or have careers in the industry is always very rewarding. I love hearing from students long after the course is over!