Employee Profile: Livestock Office Manager Summer Senter shares her love of the shows

Fuquay-Varina’s Summer Senter has been managing the N.C. State Fair Livestock Office for the past four years. Her main duties are to oversee the livestock shows and scholarship awards. Summer is happy to be deeply rooted in the livestock and agriculture community, always speaking highly of its professions. She’s made dear friends along the way and has quite an interesting story about how she wound up being a part of the State Fair family.

Agriculture was not the career path Summer initially intended to follow. She attended Wake Tech Community College for Business Administration and went into banking. Summer did not have any prior livestock and agriculture experience before beginning her position with the fair. “I learned along the way,” she said. “My grandfathers farmed crops and tobacco way back when, and my grandmother owned a nursery. I helped her a lot in her greenhouses when I was a little girl. We have chickens…that’s it.” Her son, Tyler Senter, works full-time for the Department of Agriculture in marketing.

The Senter family pictured left to right: Maddi (Tyler’s fiancé), Tyler (son), Brett (husband), Summer and Grace (daughter)

It was two close hometown friends who introduced Summer to working for the fair—former special cooking contest superintendent Lisa Prince and former livestock office manager Jenni Keith. They both requested her help with their events after Summer quit banking in 2016 to become a stay-at-home mom.

“I would help Lisa from the morning until lunchtime when that contest would end, and then I would grab my stuff and run to the livestock office to help Jenni until the close of the day,” she said. “Sometimes it was really late nights.” 2020 was Jenni’s last year as the livestock office manager. Summer took over and has been there ever since.

The N.C. State Fair livestock shows have junior and open categories, with individual classes based on the animal’s species, breed, age and weight class. Champions from the individual classes come together to compete in the Supreme Drive for their chance at being the final champion. Summer recommends the Supreme Drive for viewers because you get to witness “the best of the best” in their species—people who have beat out 200 other contestants. The fair also has Showmanship contests that focus on the exhibitor and their relationship with their animal. Showmanship is judged on how they handle the animal, are they knowledgeable about their animal and is the animal receiving the proper food and nutrition?

In the Supreme Drive, exhibitor Bryson Baldwin is shown with judge Neil Smith.

Summer’s favorite part of the livestock shows is the Sale of Champions. This is when all the champions come on the last Sunday of the fair, as well as donors and sponsors, to recognize winners and auction off the market animals.

“It lets these kids know how much they are appreciated,” Summer said. “This is an industry that doesn’t get the recognition it should in the general public’s eyes. We need more little show kids!”

Exhibitors get a portion of their sale’s proceeds in cash and a portion goes into the State Fair’s Junior Livestock scholarship fund.

2023 Sale of Champions (Billie Faith Fulcher, Mackensie Cox, Carter Jennings, Zade Jennings, Emma Vanhoy, Shane Kendall, Scarlett Denning, Lilah Poole and Katelyn Hewitt)
Carter Jennings and his Grand Champion Got to Be NC Junior Market Wether goat at the Sale of Champions

The scholarship goes live each January, and participants must have shown animals at the N.C. State Fair to be eligible. Summer is proud to announce that 32 scholarships were awarded for the 2024 season—one more than last year. The application process includes submitting a transcript, livestock experience, extracurricular activities, two letters of recommendation and an essay. The essay prompt changes yearly, but this past year’s applicants were asked to describe a strong/positive characteristic they have and how showing livestock has contributed to the development of that character trait. The applicants are anonymously considered by a selection committee that consists of representatives of the livestock and agriculture industry. Summer is not on the committee herself, but she facilitates the entire scholarship process.

Summer adores her job. It works well for her family life because she can work remotely and homeschool her daughter, but she also loves the people.

“The people you will come in contact with are kind, genuine and unique,” she said. “It makes me tear up a bit, but they’re hardworking and all-around good people.”

Summer is the only one in her position, so with that comes many duties and deadlines to be managed with no backup. However, she wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Summer values cultivating strong connections with the livestock and agriculture community. She’s built great relationships with a lot of N.C. State Fair show families. Each year she gets the opportunity to travel to a show and network there, in the past attending shows such as the Houston Livestock Show and Oklahoma Youth Expo.

“The N.C. State Fair shows do seem to be getting bigger, and that is my goal with traveling,” said Summer. “I always try to look for different ways to help make our shows even better.”

Higher social media activity to further promote the fair’s shows is something Summer would love to make happen in the future. New additions to shows are implemented each year, such as supreme banners and special awards. The Special Awards Show, sponsored by Agri Supply and J.I. Smith, is now accepting online entries in hopes of reaching a larger pool of exhibitors. This show gives exhibitors with special needs the ability to show an animal during the fair with the assistance of another youth exhibitor.

Summer’s advice for kids interested in livestock shows and pursuing a career in agriculture is simply to get involved.

“There are so many resources from your local 4-H and extension agents to FFA programs at your school,” she said. “There’s always somebody out there who can answer questions.”

Make sure you keep up with this year’s N.C. State Fair livestock shows and come support all the incredible exhibitors and their animals.

About Alana Moore

Hi there! My name is Alana Moore (Apple Turnover), and I'm the N.C. State Fair PR intern for the Department of Agriculture. I'm a rising senior at N.C. State University, majoring in Communication Media and minoring in Journalism. I'm also the business manager of an all-women a cappella group at State, Ladies in Red. Music and singing are my favorite things. I also love to write, so I look forward to posting fun features on this blog! I absolutely adore the fair and would go frequently with my best friend and her family growing up. Some of my fondest memories include when I had my artwork displayed for the art and photography competition and the time my middle school choir performed at Dorton Arena.

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