MOUNT OLIVE – More than 1,800 high school FFA and 4-H members from across North Carolina recently flocked to the University of Mount Olive (UMO) for the eighth AgFest. The event promoted and celebrated awareness of agriculture and other academic opportunities at UMO. Students came from as far east as Pamlico County, as far west as Iredell County, as far north as Alamance County, as far south as Marlboro and Chesterfield, SC, and all areas in between. The attendees represented 81 different schools, including several from Johnston County.
Buses began rolling onto the Mount Olive campus around 11 AM. After a quick photo of each school in attendance, students had the opportunity to visit nearly 100 different educational booths representing all sectors of agriculture and an array of other educational fields and careers. As music filled the campus grounds, participants sat on the lawn, enjoyed a bit of line dancing,
and competed in some friendly games of corn hole, spike ball, and chicken slinging bingo. Some four legged farm friends proved to be a crowd favorite with lambs from the UMO Kornegay Student Farm and horses from the Wilson County Mounted Search Team: Horseback Heroes and the NC Troopers Association Caisson Unit.
High school students had the chance to test their skills in archery, bull riding, log rolling, virtual welding, and on a zero-turn lawnmower course. A 4 PM concert featured country music artist Drake White, with opening acts Paige King Johnson, Chandler James, and 2022 National FFA Talent Show Competition Winners Boone and Church.
“This by far has been our biggest and best AgFest to date,” said Dr. Sandy Maddox, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “The purpose of this event is to introduce FFA members and advisors to what the University of Mount Olive has to offer academically and to what the agriculture industry has to offer in regards to career opportunities. By all measures we checked every box! It is very rewarding to see so many of our returning Ag educators come back to AgFest year-after-year and bring their FFA chapters. AgFest is a celebration of not only agriculture, but also of community and connections.”
The University partnered with multiple sponsors including Food Farm Home of the Original Piggly Wiggly, Got to Be NC, and Smithfield Foods, as well as other agribusinesses and commodity groups to allow students to come to campus and enjoy a day of educational and fun activities, eat great food, and enjoy a country music concert at almost no cost.
“Many of these students have never been on a university campus,” said Edward Olive, Director of the Lois G. Agribusiness Center. “Our UMO students in the School of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and other departments across campus enjoyed hosting these high school students and sharing what life is like at UMO. We could not do this without the wonderful sponsors, committed FFA advisors, and volunteers that help us make it possible!”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.