JAMES B. HUNT JR. was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. He grew up on a farm in Wilson County, where he and his wife now raise beef cattle. He received a bachelor's degree in agricultural education in 1959 and a master's in agricultural economics in 1962 from North Carolina State University. He earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law in 1964. From 1964 to 1966, he served as a Ford Foundation economic advisor to Nepal. He served as lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1977 and as governor from 1977 to 1985. Reelected in 1992 and again in 1996, Governor Hunt served a historic fourth term. Smart Start, his nationally recognized early childhood initiative, helped North Carolina children get better child care, immunizations, and family services. A national leader on education issues, Governor Hunt's Excellent Schools Act of 1997 raised standards and pay for teachers. His Juvenile Justice Reform Act focused on tougher punishment and effective prevention. Governor Hunt also signed the most sweeping air quality bill in 1999. He was founding chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which promotes excellence in teaching through voluntary board certification.