MOUNT OLIVE — In an effort to support local agricultural interests and provide skilled employees for one of the region’s primary economic drivers, the University of Mount Olive Agricultural Division has added five bachelor of science degree options, as well as an associate of science degree in agriculture, which will be available this fall. The new degrees will complement UMO’s existing agricultural education degree program which prepares students to become agriculture educators and FFA advisors.
“The feedback we’ve received from people in the agriculture community is that this is something we should be doing,” said Dr. Sandy Maddox, Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center and Chair of the UMO Agricultural Division. “And, we’re very excited to be offering these degrees which will provide a broader opportunity for students to select concentrations that will allow them to specialize in particular areas of career or graduate school interest.”
The agricultural production systems degree is tailored to students who have existing college credits from a two or four year institution prior to coming to UMO. According to Maddox, the transfer friendly degree allows UMO to accept up to 64 semester hours of transfer credit from another institution allowing the student to take full advantage of the hours earned in an associate’s degree (AS) or an associate of applied science degree (AAS) or a bachelor of science degree (BS) from another institution.
“If a student has completed their AS or AAS they may transfer into the Agricultural Production System program as a junior and can graduate in two years with their bachelor of science degree in our very strong agricultural program,” shared Maddox.
In addition to the agricultural production systems degree, UMO is also offering incoming freshmen the opportunity to select a concentration that best matches their career goals. Those concentrations include: animal science, agricultural business applications, environmental and natural resources, and outreach and extension education.
“We have numerous students interested in pursuing careers or attending a graduate program that focuses on animal agriculture,” said Maddox. “The animal science concentration provides those students with the opportunity to take an additional 20 hours of coursework to better prepare them to understand the animal industry.”
The business applications concentration offers students the opportunity to continue to develop their knowledge and grasp the diverse principles associated with the agriculture field complimented with an applied business concentration. “This concentration is well suited for the student that has an interest in working directly in the agriculture industry whether as a consultant, a dealer, in sales, in research, or returning to their own agricultural production operation,” Maddox shared.
Maddox indicated that the same is true for the environmental and natural resources curriculum, which is well suited for students wishing to pursue careers as wildlife officers, park rangers, or other environmental related fields. “This degree is an integrated degree that includes course offerings in agriculture as well as criminal justice and recreation and leisure studies,” she added.
The outreach and extension curriculum affords students the opportunity to refine their curriculum development skills for informal educational opportunities. This degree assists students in better understanding how to meet the needs of clientele through outreach education. According to Maddox, students may choose to pursue careers with Cooperative Extension or other governmental agencies like FSA and NRCS.
“While these concentrations allow students the opportunity to receive more focused instruction in their desired field of study, they also offer a generous number of elective hours so students can continue to add additional courses of interest to their curriculum plan,” shared Maddox. “This is of great benefit to students as they can use these elective hours to build upon their concentration. Or, they can use those elective hours to take courses unrelated to their proposed degree, but which are important to other areas of their social and personal development.”
Maddox believes that offering students the opportunity to concentrate in a particular area of interest allows them to better prepare for what they think may be a desired career path. “However, we sometimes find that as students’ progress through a particular program that their interests may shift,” she said.
The agricultural production systems degrees allow for students whose interests change to make a curriculum plan adjustment to another concentration or degree without losing credits already earned. “We are committed to working with students to determine early on what their academic strengths are and how to match these with their degree plan to hopefully assist them in preparing for their ultimate career choice,” Maddox stated.
Maddox also indicated that she would like to see the Agriculture Division develop into a School of Agriculture within the near future. “We are committed to providing a very high quality educational program through the agriculture division and committed to providing the agriculture industry across the state a well-educated work force,” she shared. “Our talented and experienced faculty members are committed to our programs and to our students. We pride ourselves in trying to develop our students in all areas of their lives professionally, socially, personally, and spiritually. A strong work ethic and sense of responsibility are some of the greatest lessons we can convey to our students in addition to academic progress.”
For more information about any of these programs, contact Dr. Sandy Maddox at [email protected]
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The university, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.