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When Kyle Met Sara: A Match Made In CALS When Kyle Met Sara: A Match Made In CALS
A woman kisses a man on a cheek while standing on a front porch with trees in the background.

When Kyle Met Sara: A Match Made In CALS

It was a classic cinematic moment: The black velvet box. The sparkling diamond ring. The scavenger hunt, planned for weeks, leading to a hand-written love letter at the door of their favorite restaurant.

Kyle Mayberry made it through all that and down on one knee, but then came a problem he hadn’t planned for.

His bride-to-be refused to turn around.

A framed drawing showing where the Mayberrys met got engaged and got married.
A framed series of three paintings hangs in Kyle and Sara Mayberry’s front hallway: the first shows where they met, the second where got engaged (eventually) and the third where they said “I do.”

The future Mrs. Mayberry would not be fooled: Kyle had always been a terrible liar. She’d seen him pull away in his big red pickup truck that morning, headed for a goat show in Ohio. There was no way he could pull off a surprise proposal, she told her best friend, who had just handed her the letter and was hinting that Sara should look behind her.

Meanwhile, Kyle was kneeling on the cobblestone sidewalk of a busy street at dinnertime. Strangers were starting to notice. What felt like half a dozen cell phone cameras had been whipped out to capture the scene.

The romance of Kyle and Sara Mayberry has always been built on trust and humor. The story of their proposal is no different.

“When I finally turned around and saw him there, I was so, so surprised,” Sara says. “I actually screamed.”

Wolfpack romance

Kyle and Sara Mayberry in cap and gown, graduating from NC State.
Kyle and Sara Mayberry in cap and gown, graduating from NC State in 2016.

Sara is a Raleigh girl, born and raised into the Wolfpack – she’s the 12th member of her family to attend NC State. Kyle grew up in rural Taylorsville, near Boone, where he raised prize-winning goats and was guided to CALS by agriculture teachers in FFA.

Kyle was an animal science major, while Sara was in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics. Most of Sara’s agribusiness classes were in Williams Hall. Animal Science is across the Brickyard, in Riddick and Polk. The two might never have met if it wasn’t for a mutual friend who “made it his mission to set us up,” Sara says.

When they first met, Kyle was “blown away,” he says, by her bubbly personality. Sara thought he was “really cute,” and then some: One week after their first date (they met under the Sullivan Pyramids and walked over to the Wolves Den, then got frozen yogurt at Freshberry), Sara sat down to dinner with her mom.

“Mom, I met the man I’m going to marry,” Sara said.

Where do we go from here?

A welcome mat that says Welcome to Mayberry.
Their tongue-in-cheek door mat welcomes many visitors – “we basically have a waiting list for our guest room” in their house on the historic Biltmore Estate.

After a courtship full of equal parts fun dates (like bowling at The Alley) and long nights studying at James B. Hunt Library, they both graduated with their NC State bachelor’s degrees in 2016. Then came the surprise proposal. When they announced their engagement to friends and faculty at CALS, the response was universal: “About time.”

Kyle earned his master’s degree in May 2018, and their wedding date was October that year. Time to find jobs and decide where to live.

That’s when things took a turn for the unexpected.

Biltmore ever after

At 2:30 a.m. the day of their wedding, Kyle was up late doing two things:

Writing his marriage vows.

And applying to a job as director of livestock at the Biltmore Estate.

Want to know more about Kyle’s work at Biltmore?

He’s director of livestock at the most popular tourist destination in North Carolina – what’s that like?

It was a last-ditch effort, nothing he figured he had a shot at. Biltmore is the largest private home in America. Its 8,000 acres are home to about 600 head of cattle and about  250 head of purebred sheep. Especially for his first job out of graduate school, it would be a highly prestigious role.

But two of his faculty mentors, Daniel Poole and Matt Poore, pushed him to apply. He finished the application, got married – and almost forgot to tell his new bride.

On the second day of their honeymoon, Kyle realized he’d forgotten to tell Sara and quickly filled her in. A few weeks later, he found out that he got the job.

And so it was that Kyle Mayberry was able to move his wife into their first home together: a small historic cabin with a wide front porch, nestled among trees that could well have been selected by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted himself on the grounds of the estate.

That part of their life is, they admit, a little unusual. When you start married life at Biltmore, “you get a lot of weird looks, like, ‘you live here?’” Sara says.

“It’s really weird mowing grass at Biltmore,” Kyle adds. “You see people driving by and they’re like, ‘they mow this place with a John Deere Lawn tractor?’”

“And we do have a lot of people come visit,” Sara says. “There’s basically a waiting list.”

Overall, though, their focus is on building life as a team. Together, they follow every NC State sports team, from football to gymnastics to soccer. Shared agricultural training is a bonus, since Kyle’s job means being on call at all hours. Sara understands (and has been known to corral the occasional escaped calf herself until backup wranglers arrived).

“We do our best to be there for each other, and we really care about what the other person cares about,” Kyle says.

“He’s the kindest man I ever met, and he’s fun,” Sara says. “We laugh together every day.”

Kyle and Sara Mayberry sit and smile on their front porch.

CATEGORIES: Animal and Ecological Systems, Fall 2019

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