Dr. Misty Blue-Terry serves as 4-H science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) specialist at North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University. Get to know Dr. Terry in the following interview.
Tell us a little about your path into your current field. Who and/or what inspired you to pursue public health or science more generally?
I earned my Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering with a concentration in human factors from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2006. Since then, I have worked in a research lab for the United States Army and taught as an assistant professor. As a teenager, I was actively engaged in outreach activities through my church, and this is where I developed a love for the well-being of overlooked communities. When the opportunity arose to use my STEM knowledge to support young people and be a bridge to a better future, I jumped on it. Being a first-generation college student, I had so many lived experiences to share with the next generation to make sure that they are prepared and know where to find resources for college and how to prepare themselves.
How has funding from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) shaped your professional development and assisted with your current projects?
As a trained industrial and systems engineer, I have a thorough understanding of a broad range of STEM concepts. Professional development opportunities funded by NIFA (1890 Capacity Building Grant Program, 1890 Centers of Excellence, and Children, Youth and Families at Risk Program) have allowed me to develop my skills in program development, teaching pedagogy and curriculum writing. These skills are essential to successfully translating research and other educational materials into layman’s terms for the public.
What advice to you have for current students who may be interested in pursuing a similar career path?
This is a career path that has many rewards. To be successful, you must love to work in the community and be innovative with how you use resources. Many people who love what they do and love the community often are a great asset and resource, but it’s good to learn work/life balance and self-care early in your career to prevent burnout.
Photo: USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is celebrating Juneteenth. Various images of farmers working in the field and a family spending time together. Courtesy of Adobe Stock.