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If the hat fits, Ivey Pope wears it

Ivey Pope wears many hats as a young, up-and-coming produce professional.

The 25-year-old plays multiple roles representing multiple related companies, all under the auspices of DL&B Enterprises in Clinton, NC.

DL&B is a grower, packer, shipper and a lot more, according to Ms. Pope.

"Doug and Linda Wilson are the owners; DL&B stands for Doug and Linda and the boys," Ms. Pope said of the family-owned business.

Through DL&B's partnerships and affiliates, Ms. Pope not only works at the farm as the packinghouse and field crew manager, but also manages public relations and food-safety issues for distributor-sales agent King Farms' Clinton branch; promotes and sells Mobile Farmware, a timekeeping software system for tracking laborers; and represents Agri-Technology, a consulting firm that tests soil samples and makes crop recommendations among other scouting services.

Ms. Pope began working with DL&B seasonally in 1999 and continued with the firm part time through her college years. She assumed full-time status upon her 2003 graduation with a bachelor of science degree from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she majored in agronomy and crop science. She also studied soil science, post-harvest physiology and fruit and vegetable production.

All that knowledge comes in handy at DL&B. Ms. Pope is on the road much of the week for every aspect of her job. Her travels have taken her throughout the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida; north to Delaware and New Jersey; and as far as Canada and Southern California. "During the season, when we're running, we can easily work for six or seven months without a break, 100-hour weeks," she said.

One day she might be representing King Farms, doing public relations with its chainstore customers; another day she might be transplanting seedlings hands-on at DL&B's farm.

Then there are the trips to trade shows and clients to perform demos of Mobile Farmware. "It's a really whiz-bang system; it sells itself," she said. The system was designed for DL&B's farm to track its more than 700 seasonal workers. "Doug and Linda saw a need for it. People see it and want it for themselves," Ms. Pope said.

Ms. Pope was born in Clinton and grew up in the industry; her father is a grower. "They had me on a tractor when I was six, driving in the tobacco fields," she said.

Her parents separated soon after she was born and both remarried, providing an extended family and a wealth of role models. "All four of my parents are wonderful," Ms. Pope said.

Her father still runs the family farm, which these days produces grain exclusively. Her stepmother works for a bank, her stepfather is a judge, and her mother is in charge of international students for the University of North Carolina system, which has campuses throughout the state. "I have two half-sisters on my mother's side and a younger stepsister on my faher's side. I'm the oldest of everybody and my daddy's only child; I've been very lucky," she said.

Ms. Pope attributes her energy and multitasking skills to her father's example. "He's got a lot of drive, and I take a lot after him," she said. "He always said if you are going to do anything with your life, do it while you are young because one day you will wake up and you will be old."In her free time, Ms. Pope happily wears a cowboy hat" she has been competing in rodeos for years. Another grower in the Clinton area who happened to be a third-generation steer-wrestler got her into the sport when she was about 11. "I was friends with his daughter and he treated me like another young'un," she said.

Ms. Pope's specialty is barrel racing; she has also competed in goat-tying and pole-bending and has done some roping, "but that's one of those things that takes a lot of practice and I don't have as much time now that I'm working full time."

She attends rodeo events once every couple of months or so, mostly in the Southeast. In high school and college, she competed four or five times a month in amateur and professional events and was president of her college team. "I remember leaving Thursday afternoons and coming back Monday mornings and rolling into class after competing for two nights; it was great."

Ms. Pope owns five horses, three of which she rides for rodeo events. "It's something that I thoroughly enjoy," she said.

Very soon Ms. Pope will be donning a wedding veil. She is getting married on May 21. "It's right around the corner," she said of the big day.

The groom is Cale Tart, 30, a farm manager at DL&B Enterprises. "Anything on the farm, he can do," she said.

The couple have been together for six years, ever since they met at a stoplight. "He had just graduated from State and was on his way home. I saw he had a truck just like mine except his was red and mine was white," Ms. Pope said. "He was the best-looking man I had ever seen, so I introduced myself."

Although they didn't hook up then and there, fate was on their side. Mr. Tart, as it happens, was already employed by DL&B, and Ms. Pope began working there soon afterwards. "It all fell into place; it was as though it was meant to be," she said.