Leading the Pack

By Chase Jordan

July 7, 2014

As an educator,Elizabeth Pack wants to make an impact on her students at Lakewood High School so they can perhaps change the world.

“In my wildest dreams I would love to be that teacher who inspires that student who totally overcomes the fuel and energy crisis,” she said. “That would be the coolest thing.”

Along with her college training, a development program for educators will help her do that.

Pack is member of the 2015 Kenan Fellows Program. There are about 50 participants throughout the state and Pack is the first in Sampson County. The goal of the program is to give teachers in the classroom experience to improve STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math).

“The idea is for teachers to obtain real world experience with a mentor and bring it back to the classroom to help improve their teaching and give students those real world experiences as well,” Pack said.

For the fellowship, her duties are split between learning about biofuels and working with 4-H youth development programs throughout the summer. Pack will operate 4-H workshops related to STEM.

She is being sponsored by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Teachers.

Amanda Bradshaw, 4-H Extension Agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, is currently mentoring Pack during the program.

“I think it has been a good experience for her and it gives her a different perspective of teaching outside of the classroom,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw enjoys working with Pack in the camp.

“She’s been a jewel to have,” Bradshaw said.

Pack is learning about biofuels in Sampson County and how they may transform the economic outlook here. Some of it includes a processing plant, crops for research and businesses which are already using alternative fuels such as methanol and ethanol.

“There are a lot of things going on that I did not know about,” Pack said. “I’ve been really nerdy about it and tell everybody who listens to me ,and those who won’t listen to me, all the things that I have learned that are happening right here. I think it’s really cool.”

She is also excited about the propose ethanol-producing Chemtex facility coming to Sampson County.

“This is going to be a big thing for our county and it’s not happening everywhere,” she said.

Her cohort year, which focuses on agriculture, will end May 2015 and she will transfer what she learned to her classroom.

After graduating from high school, the Concord native attended North Carolina State University and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education.

In 2011, she began teaching agriculture at Lakewood High School.

“I really love it,” Pack said about teaching at the school.

Like any job, there’s stressful days that comes with being a teacher. “But the kids keep me coming back,” Pack said. “They really make it worth my time.”

She recently found out about one of her students working at the animal shelter.

“He told me that he started doing that because of what he learned in my classes,” Pack said. “To see that there is a lasting impact is very cool. There’s always something different every day.”

For a lot of students in the county, agriculture is a tradition, but for some it’s not.

“Students learn that agriculture is not just working on a field and driving a tractor,” she said. “They find out that agriculture has a lot of science, math, technology, challenges and progress. They see all these different things that we’re doing. We’re not just growing food, but we’re taking care of animals and trying to solve a fuel crisis for the world.”

Pack said there are a lot of options in agriculture. In school, she was encouraged and influenced by her teacher Shannon Vanhoy to seize them.

“There are a lot of different things you can do,” she said.