A love of animals is a love for agriculture

By on January 26, 2022

We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Michelle Baker, Administrative Specialist with our Veterinary Division, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!

Michelle Baker, Administrative Specialist with our Veterinary Division, grew up on a sixth-generation family farm and has always had a strong love for the industry. “I’ve been involved in agriculture since before I could walk,” she said, “and even when I was a little girl it always made my heart happy.” Michelle’s grandfather can be credited for her strong love of agriculture because he took her almost everywhere he went.

The family farm consisted of a few cash crops, like corn and potatoes, as well as cattle and hogs. Michelle would ride with her grandfather to feed the animals, help put out fertilizer and anything else he would allow her to do. “He taught me everything I know,” she said. “I have some very sweet memories of riding around the farm with him that still fuel my passion for our industry and the people within it today.”

In 1997, Michelle started her career with the department as an admin with Human Resources and held various other positions before obtaining her current role as Administrative Specialist for the Veterinary Division. Throughout her 24 years of service, she has seen many changes in both the agriculture industry and the department, including growth of technology and departmental divisions. “Things just aren’t the same as they were when my granddad was farming or even when I first started working here,” she said, “but farmers have many more options available to them today and we are able to help in a lot more ways than we could have 20 years ago.”

Michelle was actually able to take a front seat to one of those changes when she first started with the veterinary division. In previous years, Animal Welfare and Veterinary were one in the same, until a few years ago when industry and departmental leaders decided they should function as two separate sections under the veterinary division. “I was the first administrative specialist to help develop the Animal Welfare section of our division and I am very proud of that,” Michelle said. “I helped get it up and running by issuing licenses for animal shelters, boarding kennels and pet shops, registering certifications with the euthanasia technicians and more.”

In her current role, Michelle is responsible for a variety of licenses necessary for livestock raising and production. “I deal with all of our licensing, from farm ID applications, which provide animal disease traceability, to livestock dealer licenses and other permits,” she said. “I ensure that producers have all the necessary documentation to do what they love most…farm.”

Michelle also functions as the Outreach Coordinator for a variety of educational events throughout the state, including the Farm Show and the N.C. State Fair. The booths at these shows function to not only educate the public about what the veterinary division does, but also to help farmers and other agriculture industry producers to connect with us.

“My favorite part of the job is meeting and helping farmers and producers across the state,” Michelle said, “and these shows provide a great way to network with people in person.” She is thankful to call these individuals not just coworkers or partners but friends and family.

In her spare time, Michelle loves to hunt, fish and ride motorcycles. She also has two daughters that she enjoys gardening with. “If I can pass down my love of farming and the importance of local food to the next generation then I know I have done my job,” she said. Join us in thanking Michelle for all her hard work and be sure to stop by her booth the next time you attend the Farm Show or the N.C. State Fair.

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