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MCPS Success Story: Gabby Barnes, class of 2016

Gabby Barnes

Since her time in MCPS, agriculture and education have gone hand-in-hand for Gabby Barnes (‘16). Her involvement in the MCHS FFA club helped lead her to a college experience focused on agriculture, and if her current path continues, she’ll make a career out of Ag-Ed. Her passion for agriculture and working with people has already taken her places as a college student, and she’s hoping it will continue to take her places as a professional.

Gabby Barnes (‘16) is the subject of our next MCPS Success Story


After MCPS …

After graduating from MCHS in 2016, Barnes enrolled at Murray St. where she has studied Ag-Education

“The Ag department is fantastic at Murray,” Barnes said. “You get really, really hands-on, which I really like [...] My college experience has evolved a lot around agriculture and education.”

Unlike most undergraduates, Barnes also has had the opportunity to be involved in university research. While enrolled in a horticulture class, she was approached by a professor about helping with soil research. 

“I thought, ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ And it bloomed from there,” she said.

Her research focuses on examining the differences between rural and urban soil. And what began as a project she showcased at her college, soon became an opportunity to present her findings across the country.

“At first it was just local stuff in Murray, and then because I started scoring well, they sent me to Baltimore [to present] ,” Barnes explained. Since, her soil research findings have taken her to Birmingham, San Diego, and Lexington.

Prior to college, Barnes considered becoming a veterinarian, but realized that career path wasn’t for her. 

“So I sat down and thought about the things that I enjoyed the most [...] and it was agriculture, but I didn’t want to farm,” she explained. “Really what I love about ag is the opportunities it presents to talk to other people, to teach kids, and the impact you can make on a broader scale.”

At one point, she also considered pursuing a PhD with an eye on a career in academia, but realized that her true passion was in helping others as opposed to research.

“I got into Agriculture Education because I love teaching and I love interactions with students. I truly believe that a good teacher can save lives,” she said.

Currently, Barnes is finishing her degree at Murray St. and completing her student-teaching at Calloway County High School.


Memories from MCPS …

Of course, much of her interest in agriculture started with her involvement in Marion County High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter.

“Something I loved about MCHS FFA was that it really took you places,” Barnes said. “On the field trips I got to meet so many people. And those connections have actually carried me through college. There are people I know who have helped me in college that I met through FFA in high school.”

Plus, her time involved with the MCHS FFA chapter also emphasized the importance of educating others.

“[The Marion County FFA] does a lot of Farm-to-Fork things and petting zoo things -- I remember I brought my horse to a petting zoo here and there all kinds of elementary school kids,” Barnes recalled. “It was for the Reading Celebration Night. I just thought it was so cool that we had all these books centered around farming and agriculture.”


Advice to current students ...

“It’s completely fine to not know exactly what you want to do,” Barnes said. “Your goals are more than likely going to change, and that doesn’t mean you failed, it just means you put thought into your decisions. Don’t be afraid to go a whole new direction; you just might love it. 

She also emphasized the importance of joining clubs and extracurricular activities.

“You have to get involved in something -- just get involved,” she said.


Do you have someone in mind for our next MCPS Success Story? E-mail suggestions to: jason.simpson@marion.kyschools.us

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