UMO Ag Education Program Gets New Training Facility

MOUNT OLIVE – The ag education students at the University of Mount Olive will soon have a new place to learn, develop and test their ag mechanics skills.  Thanks to a generous $400,000 gift from Mike Goodson of Goodson and Wells Farms, UMO is building an agricultural mechanics shop.  The 8,400 square feet facility will contain 12 welding booths, a wood working shop, small engine repair and auto mechanics area, ventilation and HVAC testing area, classroom and office space.  The building is expected to be completed in May with the first students taking advantage of the facility this coming fall.

The University of Mount Olive will be the only private college or university to have this type of facility.  “We are the only private university teaching Ag education,” said Dr. Sandy Maddox, director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at UMO.  “This facility will be a tremendous advantage to us in preparing our students to gain the full experience that they need to become experienced teachers or to carry skills back to the farm or other careers.”

Previously, UMO ag education students were traveling to a local high school to complete their required agricultural mechanics classes.  Although the partnership was a good one, the convenience for students was not optimal, because they had to travel off- campus at night to complete the courses.

“Having the facility on-site will not only improve the learning environment, but will also open the class to other students that might have an interest in learning these skills,” said Maddox.

The space will be a dual use facility in that it will also house the University’s maintenance personnel and equipment.

“We will work closely with the talented staff in our UMO Maintenance Department and will develop intern and apprenticeship programs to further the hands-on experience for our students,” Maddox added.

According to Maddox, the building will provide an area of about 1,100 square feet for welding training and will allow students the opportunity to learn the techniques of mig/tig and stick welding and learn these techniques in such a way that they will be able to instruct in the ag education classroom. There will be a comparable wood working area for learning these skills and also a small engine repair and auto maintenance area. Electrical, masonry, plumbing, HVAC and ventilation will also be addressed in the shop area and through classroom instruction.

“Our agriculture education and agribusiness degree programs have grown considerably over the last few years,” said Maddox. “This growth has resulted from the experiential learning opportunities that are offered here at UMO. These hands-on experiences support our theoretical classroom instruction. To be successful in providing these real life learning experiences facilities are needed. This need was recognized by a very generous donor and this family’s gift will allow our students the opportunity to take their educational experience to the next level of learning.”

The Ag Education Department is also looking for additional funding to support the cost of equipment including welders.  To find out more about the needs or about making a contribution, please contact Dr. Maddox at or call 919-658-2502.

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