LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 30, 2023) — A native of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, Michael Moore recently made a life-changing decision. He returned to college as a first-generation student to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture in the community food systems track at the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
Moore has been living and working as a farm manager at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill since 2014. With nearly a decade of experience in diversified, sustainable and regenerative agriculture, he is passionate about growing and improving land.
Shaker Village, recently ranked as one of the most beautiful farms in the U.S., is reminiscent of Moore’s childhood. He has fond memories of growing up on a successful family farm and walking with his grandfather surrounded by pastures, tobacco fields and cows. As a result, Moore got an early start in romanticizing a future that’s connected to ethereal land.
“It’s a connection to the land, that you can’t really experience in another career,” he said. “It’s challenging, for instance pulling calves at midnight and waking up at 5 a.m. I have so much pride in this work and can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Since graduating with an associate’s degree in 2013, Moore has kept busy and productive working on the farm at Shaker Village. For instance, he pioneered Kentucky’s first solar grazing project with sheep. That project helped manage Kentucky’s largest solar farm, consisting of 44,000 solar panels on 50 acres.
Solar grazing is the method of vegetation control using grazing livestock. According to the American Solar Grazing Association, sheep are best suited for solar installations due to their size and grazing behavior.
Although Moore farmed for approximately three decades, he desired more professional and personal growth. Returning to college at UK was the perfect opportunity.
“Thinking you know it all, is where you meet failure,” he said. “When I made the decision to return to college, choosing UK made sense. It’s a land-grant institution and when you think of agriculture, you think Kentucky.”
During his UK educational experience, Moore wants to take advantage of courses, research opportunities and experiences that can support several of his passions. Some of those include nonprofit work, sustainability agriculture policy, solar grazing, helping others make better food choices and even returning to the classroom to teach one day.
Moore realizes he could face some challenges along the way, but he’s ready to overcome them and make his family proud.
“Barriers are not a stopping point for me, I just jump over them,” Moore said. “Everyone is supporting and believing in me. I’m ready to be the first person in my family to graduate and continue to carry on my family’s successful legacy in agriculture.”
Moore plans to continue working full time while enrolled in classes and is slated to graduate in 2025. Afterward, he plans to pursue graduate school, eventually manage his own farm and to remain connected to the land.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.