University of Mount Olive ag students take on summer internships

MOUNT OLIVE — Students from the University of Mount Olive Agriculture Department are completing summer internships under the supervision of Dr. Sandy Maddox, the division chair of agriculture. The internships are helping students determine their area of interest and preparing them for careers in the agriculture industry.

“Internships are important for students because they help them to better understand certain areas of the agriculture industry,” explained Maddox. “Many agribusinesses contact the University through the Agribusiness Center to let us know of summer employment opportunities or internships. Through these internships, students get a true picture of the working world of agriculture. Internships assist students in deciding what they may or may not want to choose as a career path. Companies offer internships not only as a way to offer students opportunities to learn about their business, but more importantly to evaluate students and determine if they are a good fit for their company. These opportunities can be a win-win for both the student and the agribusiness.”

In addition to internships, agriculture students at the University have the opportunity to obtain various certifications to make them more competitive in their field.

“Our goal at the University is to provide each of our students the opportunity to excel scholastically and to be competitive in the job market. As a component of our agriculture classes students have the opportunity to obtain numerous industry standard certifications. All of these add to a student’s knowledge base and resume and can often position them for employment after graduation,” noted Maddox.

Bridget Barnes, Sarah Best, and Clara Ervin are among a number of UMO students currently working at summer internships.

Barnes, a senior agriculture education major from Fremont, is completing her internship at Jericho Farms in Pikeville. She is a Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator, Ornamental and Turf; is a North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association (NCNLA) Certified Plant Professional; has obtained her Beef Quality Assurance (BQA); Pork Quality Assurance (PQA); Transport Quality Assurance (TQA); and has her Operator-n-Charge (OIC) Animal Wastewater Type A License; and her Hunter Safety Instructor License.

“This is my second summer at Jericho farms,” smiled Barnes. “I have thoroughly enjoyed working at the plant nursery. I love having the exposure to hundreds of varieties of different plants. I guess you could say that plants are kind of my thing. It was pretty cool when Jericho Farms came to UMO and did some of the landscaping around the new signs because I was able to ride around campus and identify the plants that I had a helping hand in growing.”

Best is a sophomore agribusiness major from Newton Grove and is completing her internship at Golden Grove Peanut Company, INC. Through her agriculture courses at UMO, she received numerous certifications, including Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator for Livestock and Poultry; OIC Animal Wastewater Type A Certification; TQA; PQA; and BQA.

“This internship is preparing me to meet my future goals by helping me gain experience and knowledge of the business world,” noted Best. “I am able to learn more about organization, communication, and customer satisfaction all while having responsibilities in advancing the company. It is preparing me for the real world and is allowing me to make connections with both individuals and companies in rural North Carolina and abroad.”

Ervin, a senior agriculture education major from Catawba, is interning at Protech Advisory Services, which is an independent, crop consulting company. Ervin has successfully passed both the North Carolina and International Certified Crop Advisor exams as component of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) class that she took the spring semester at UMO. She is also a NCNLA Certified Plant Professional, and has obtained pesticide certification in multiple categories as well as BQA, PQA, TQA and OIC.

“Not only am I gaining valuable experience, but I’m also helping farmers and growers collect data that helps them to make economical and environmentally sound decisions,” said Ervin. “This internship is a major stepping stone for my future career and educational goals. Looking towards graduate school and a future career in agronomy, this internship allows valuable hands-on experience by applying concepts that I learned in the classroom.”

Maddox is excited that these internships are providing students with valuable exposure and experience for their future careers. “At UMO, we believe that offering our students the training to prepare for and successfully attain these certifications and internships allows them to be competitive in the job market prior to, but most importantly, after graduation. Our agriculture students graduate from UMO with a strong knowledge base and diploma as well as a pretty impressive resume.”

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

Sarah Best of Newton Grove is completing her internship at Golden Grove Peanut Company, Inc. She is pictured with Lee Swinson, president of Golden Grove Candy Company. Best of Newton Grove is completing her internship at Golden Grove Peanut Company, Inc. She is pictured with Lee Swinson, president of Golden Grove Candy Company.