Meet Yolanda Carlisle, teaching young people about careers in agriculture

Published: Jan 19, 2024

After spending over a decade in the classroom, Yolanda says she will always have the desire to teach and learn. She engages with her community by introducing students and other teachers to Nutrien’s purpose of Feeding the Future and the free educational resources available through Nutrien-supported youth education programs. Her involvement opens possible career pathways for those she meets. Her message is that agriculture is for everyone.

Yolanda Carlisle, Laboratory Supervisor, White Springs, Florida

Can you tell us about your early career and how you discovered the Journey 2050 educational materials?

I attended Tuskegee University in Alabama and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I remember one of my most interesting projects was studying rheumatoid arthritis, also known as caprine arthritis encephalitis, in goats. It was, perhaps, a foretelling of my future career in agriculture. After college, I worked in the paper and pulp industry and a laboratory before entering the classroom.

While teaching science at Columbia High School in Lake City, Florida, I obtained my master’s in education. The program’s focus was adding the arts to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning. During this same time, I attended a conference where Nutrien had a booth demonstrating their Journey 2050 classroom program and materials. It was exactly what I was searching for to bring the environmental curriculum to life in the classroom interactively and creatively.

My students enjoyed playing the game so much that it inspired our science team to create competitive games between classrooms based on the content to prepare our students for their course exams. It was engaging and effective.


What led you to pursue a career with Nutrien?

As much as I loved teaching, the pandemic impacted our workload, creating a strenuous environment, and I wanted to get back into a lab. I happened to learn of a position from a friend. After researching, I realized there was an alignment between my values and Nutrien. I liked what I read online about the commitment to the environment, investment in local communities, inclusive benefits, and the employee volunteer program. I applied and was hired in 2020.

How do you experience Inclusion at Nutrien?

One of the aspects of my work that I enjoy most is serving as an example to others in my community, where there is not a lot of diversity, that people who look like me can do this work for a company that supports inclusion.

I am a White Springs Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Steering committee member, a Black Employee Resource Group (BERG) member, and a Women in Non-Traditional Environments and Roles (WiNTER) member. My work with BERG has allowed me to be an ambassador during career fairs at my alma mater, Tuskegee University. Through WiNTER, I was invited to participate in a local Women in Business event where I saw one of my former students; this was a full-circle moment.

How do you interact with the community as a Nutrien employee?

I am excited to decide how to spend my volunteer hours each year. In 2023, I attended a STEM night in Columbia County, where Nutrien was a presenter and sponsor. The event helped students increase their knowledge of agriculture and STEM's role in the field and in impacting global food security.  food security.

At this event, I met a second-grade teacher who asked if Nutrien could come to her classroom to teach her students about the agriculture industry. I designed an Ag Awareness Day and recruited help from my colleagues. Over the course of two hours, students visited different stations to play Nutrien online games, plant sunflowers from Nutrien Seed Survivor Kits, learn about phosphate, do a craft that taught them about the role bees play in an agricultural ecosystem, see an overhead video of our White Springs site, and learn about what is happening in their community.

After spending this time with second graders, my colleagues were exhausted, and I asked them to remember this feeling and take any opportunity to thank a teacher for their service. After all, a full day of school is more than two hours.


Can you tell us a bit about your work?

My department validates the analysis for the products we make at White Springs. I support them and serve as the director of Nutrien's phosphate check sample program. We send product samples to various professionals inside and outside Nutrien to ensure we align with all standards. Recently, I took on the management of the documentation required for Safe Feed Safe Food audits at our site, which required a certification. I enjoy all opportunities to learn new things.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I enjoy providing people with the information needed to do their jobs and being part of a team that helps others. I try every day to do it with a good attitude and I am reminded of my guiding principles that are framed in my office - Work Hard, Be Humble, Be Kind, and Keep Smiling.

What is a fun fact about you people may not know?

I like to paint with acrylics, though I don’t get to do it very often. I am still learning how to paint hands and faces, and until I can master this skill, you won’t see them in my art. I guess that’s the lifelong learner part of my personality.