Ag Career Profile - The Egg Lady
The position of Promotions Coordinator for the Kentucky Poultry Federation fell into Cassinda Sparrow Bechanan’s lap, she said. Her two children were getting older, so she decided it was time to reenter the workforce ten years ago. It was a great fit for this former 4-Her and University of Kentucky College of Agriculture graduate who focused her studies on communications.
Education is Cassinda’s primary role, which makes her smile knowing she is following in her father, David Sparrow’s, footsteps. The late Mr. Sparrow was the agriculture extension agent for Boyle County for many years, and he retired as the assistant dean to the UK College of Agriculture.
Cassinda has a wide variety of educational roles. She visits classrooms of all ages to teach about the poultry industry and their products, including making regular appearances at high school culinary arts classes.
The day we met to discuss her career, for instance, she had met with the Fleming County High School culinary department to help them prepare a meal for visiting teachers, speakers, school administration, and guests. They made hard-boiled eggs for the salads, a side of corn pudding, and crepes for dessert, which is usually something new for many kids.
“The Kentucky Poultry Federation provides all the product we use in the classroom as well as all other necessary ingredients,” remarked Cassinda. “I also bring all the equipment needed to make these dishes. What we provide is a free cooking lab for students, which is a welcome program for teachers with limited budgets.”
If she had been visiting an elementary school, she would probably have talked about the chicken’s life cycle and how chickens are cared for to produce meat and eggs. She also shows them how to peel their own hard-boiled eggs, a technique that many of us have still not been able to master. For high school students, she has a large catalog of recipes she demonstrates, but they all have eggs as a primary ingredient.
The skills that Cassinda said have helped her the most throughout her career is being organized and flexible.
“When you have 32 kids in a classroom, everything must be in its place,” Cassinda said referring to all the ingredients, cookware, and utensils. “We must get through the demonstration, let them cook on their own, and then clean up to be ready for the next class.”
She mentioned that safety is her number one priority, aside from encouraging the students to eat more eggs, and it is her goal to visit at least 50 schools per year. Working with teacher schedules and being able to change gears quickly when something unexpected arises is another reason Cassinda needs to be organized.
In addition to her promotion activities, Cassinda assists with general organizational responsibilities such as social media posts, keeping board meeting minutes, materials distribution, helping at the annual meeting, and 4-H demonstration events, and some of her duties have extended beyond Kentucky to reach a national audience. She is now the chair of the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference and runs the National Egg Preparation Demonstration Contest. This past spring, Cassinda was invited by the American Egg Board to participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll, an experience she said she will never forget.
For someone who lives in the small town of Carlisle (Nicholas County), Cassinda says the travel is one of her favorite parts of the job. And similar to most other agriculture professionals, she loves the family atmosphere of her work.
Thank you, Cassinda, for promoting the products of our number one agricultural commodity.