GREENWICH, N.Y. — Deanna Osmond’s introduction to the world of agriculture came at a young age. The Wichita, Kansas native said, “I grew up around it. My father’s family owned three farms across Kansas, and although we didn’t farm them, we visited regularly. My grandmother grew up on a ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas and I had many relatives that owned ranches.” These frequent visits to the farms grew her interest in agriculture as she grew up.
Deanna attended Kansas State University where she initially studied biology, but ended up pursuing agronomy and anthropology. Switching to agronomy was not a far jump from her initial course of study as she said, “Agronomy is really just applied biology.”
After graduating Deanna worked on a dairy farm for a time in order “to better understand a farmer’s perspective.” She achieved a master’s degree in soil science from North Carolina State University. Deanna then had the unique opportunity of working as an Agricultural Project Officer for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Working in the country of Zaire in Africa, Deanna and her team managed agricultural projects focused on increasing food security for the rural population.
Deanna received her doctorate in Soil Science from Cornell University in 1991 and today is a Professor and Soil Science Extension Specialist at North Carolina State University. “I work at the interface of nutrient management, conservation practices. As an Extension Specialist, my job is to answer questions posed by either the farming and/or environmental communities,” she explained.
Deanna has led efforts to produce easy-to-use tools required through state rules that demonstrate agriculture’s role in reducing nutrients. These tools promote conservation practices such as nutrient management. Through efforts nutrient reduction has been documented by the agricultural community meaning the farmers and ag industry members have been implementing these tools in their operations. Currently, Deanna is working on a national project to harmonize soil test recommendations across state boundaries. “This is critical to modernize our recommendations, which we hope will lead to reduced costs to farmers and the environment, while maintaining and optimizing yields,” she said.
Working at a land grant university Deanna works to provide up-to-date research and practical information for farmers in her state. “Land grant universities have been and are critical for science-based information for the agricultural community,” she explained. “Most land grants… provide yearly unbiased testing of pesticides, varieties, and products.” Working in the area of soil science Deanna serves as an intermediary between environmental groups and agencies and the agriculture community. Deanna also works closely with extension agents throughout the state to make sure they have the most up-to-date information.
For those considering a career in agriculture Deanna encourages hard work and broad experience. “Work hard, be flexible, and gain as many experiences as you can because you never know where your career path will take you,” she said. For anyone interested in Deanna’s line of work or if you have any questions for her she can be reached at email@example.com.
A new column from Morning Ag Clips, “Cultivating Ag Careers” introduces agriculture students and FFAers to the wide variety of careers that exist in agriculture. Each week a new individual will be introduced, who will share their journey: their educational experiences, their work, and what role their job plays in the wide world of agriculture.
Tune in each Wednesday to learn more about the different jobs and personalities that make up the ag industry!