Hannah Talton of Greensboro, a junior majoring in Urban and Community Horticulture at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, is the recipient of the 2015-16 Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence, an annual honor that recognizes one undergraduate student who demonstrates consistent excellence in academics and leadership. Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. presented the award to Talton during the annual Student Honors Convocation April 13.
Talton says it was her lifelong interest in health sciences that drew her to the Urban and Community Horticulture program in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (SAES). Originally intending to major in nursing, Talton later developed an interest in environmental health, which led her to the SAES. The degree prepares students to aid communities with the technical and policy aspects that are required to cultivate and sustain a safe, and reliable local food infrastructure, and was established as part of the SAES’s Local Food and Health Initiative.
“I’m still interested in taking care of human health through ensuring access to nutritious fruits and vegetables for human consumption,” Talton said.
Talton, who will be a first-generation university graduate at the conclusion of her senior year in May 2017, already has an extensive resume chronicling her academic, research, and community service. Most of her achievements were facilitated by the many USDA-supported opportunities that are administered through SAES, including scholarships through the Multicultural Scholars and ELITE leadership programs, as well as research assistantships at the University Farm, and in the plant biotechnology and integrated pest management laboratories.
Talton also gained experience developing her public speaking skills by being invited to present her research in several campus and national venues, including the SAES’s annual Small Farms Week celebration, the SAES Showcase of Excellence, and at National Science Foundation and USDA events in the nation’s capital
“This major has opened so many doors and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she said.
Talton, who has made the dean’s list every semester, has also collected numerous leadership and community service credentials during her three years at N.C. A&T. She has been inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta and Golden Key honor societies, and serves in leadership roles for campus organizations, including Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences and SAES Advocates, for which she serves as historian.
Her service to campus and community has been extensive, including participating in recruiting events, and volunteering every semester with Cove Creek Gardens, as well as the FFA Bio-Rally. Talton also participates in biannual Adopt-A-Stream clean ups with MANRRS and with the University’s Honors Program; and has volunteered at the United Way of Greater Greensboro, Greensboro Beautiful, and Share the Harvest.
Talton plans to go on to graduate school, and hopes to find a career in agricultural research at USDA. But until then, she intends to continue taking advantage of the many experiential learning opportunities at A&T. Summer of 2016 will see her at a sister land-grant institution, The Ohio State University, completing a horticultural internship. She also intends to pursue a study abroad opportunity during her senior year, facilitated through A&T’s Office of International Programs. Talton spent a previous summer completing an internship with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.
“Ms. Talton is an excellent example of a well-rounded scholar, demonstrating high-level performance in both the classroom and in the community,” wrote Dr. Antoine Alston, associate dean for academic studies for the SAES, in a letter nominating Talton for the award.
Alston concluded, “She is the ultimate model of Aggie Pride, and will share the true meaning of what it means to be an Aggie as she continues on her path of greatness!”