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UMO Holds Dedication Event for Ag Farm, Campus, and Building

MOUNT OLIVE- On Friday, November 2, the University of Mount Olive (UMO) held a dedication event for the George R. Kornegay, Jr. Student Farm, the Donnie and Linda Lassiter Agricultural Campus, and the Sandy Maddox Agriculture and Education Building.  Approximately 200 people attended the event located on Garner Chapel Road just outside of Mount Olive.

The idea for the student farm was born in 2014 when George R. Kornegay, Jr., an avid supporter of UMO and his family, donated the 63-acre Kornegay homeplace to the University.  His son Kevin Kornegay spoke on behalf of the Kornegay family.

“Dad appreciated the value of agriculture to North Carolina,” Kevin said.  “He kept company with community leaders of agriculture—farmers who utilized innovation like Charlie McClenny, bankers who understood the financial needs and benefits of agriculture like Grey Morgan, University faculty and staff like Dr. Sandra Maddox and Ed Olive, and UMO friends like the Lassiter and Herring families.  He would be very happy to see the progress that has been made to achieve his vision. Our family joins all of you in sharing in the good work that has been done to make George Kornegay’s childhood home a state-of-the art agricultural learning community.”

Since 2014, a number of individuals have made contributions to support the development and utility of the Farm. Gifts from McKinley and Barbara Price financed the clearing and preparation of the site for construction.

UMO Trustee Donnie Lassiter and his wife, Linda, made a significant contribution to the Farm which allowed for essential infrastructural improvements. These upgrades included the construction of the equipment shelter, pesticide and fertilizer storage facility, the digging of two wells, and the installation of a full farm irrigation system. These enhancements were completed in September of 2018.

The Lassiters chose to contribute to the agriculture program because of their farming background.  “We are pleased to be able to contribute to the Agriculture program which is doing amazing things under the guidance of Dr. Sandy Maddox,” Donnie said.  “I grew up on a farm.  Agriculture is a big part of eastern North Carolina.  UMO is positioned to have a lot of opportunity for growth in the areas of Ag business and Ag education. We want to help people complete their dreams.”

The construction of the Agriculture and Education Building is the latest addition to the Farm.

According to Dr. Sandy Maddox, Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center and Chair of the Division of Agriculture and Assistant Professor of Agriculture at the University of Mount Olive, the building was supported by both private and public funding sources.

“NC Representative Jimmy Dixon has worked with the General Assembly and the Town of Mount Olive to assemble public funds that supported the construction of this building,” Maddox said.

“As a farmer in the General Assembly, I understand that there are many good reasons that we have remained a free nation for these many decades.  However, all those reasons combined may not equal the fact that we have been able to feed and clothe ourselves,” said Dixon.  “We must never lose that ability.  The work being done here at the University of Mount Olive is excellent.  The students are top quality.  The money allocated by the State has been well spent, and we are not through yet.”

According to Maddox additional provisions acquired through the Golden LEAF Foundation were instrumental in bringing the construction of the Agriculture and Education Building to fruition.

“The Herring family, owners and operators of Hog Slat, Inc. have provided construction oversight and additional funding, allowing the building project to move to completion,” Maddox said. “We are grateful to all of these individuals and organizations for their tremendous support of this facility.”

The Agriculture and Education Building consists of three training rooms, two laboratories, a shop area, conference room, and office space. Completed in the fall of 2018, the building allows the Student Farm to be more fully utilized as a learning laboratory and undergraduate research facility.

During the dedication ceremony David Herring, Vice President for Hogslat Inc./TDM Farms announced the naming of the new building as the Sandy Maddox Agriculture and Education Building in honor of Dr. Maddox.

Herring said, “Everybody needs a mentor.  Every time I have been to this farm I have seen Sandy Maddox be just that to these students.  She is a positive role model, mentor, and educator.  Our family and the Hog Slat employees are so glad to be a part of this project.  Our hats are off to Dr. Maddox and all that she is doing for this program.”

UMO President Dr. David Poole agreed.  “Sandy is a force to be reckoned with.  She has worked and continues to work tirelessly to build the agricultural programs at UMO. She has led the creation of two new degree programs in agriculture encompassing four concentrations, the addition of facilities including a raised bed garden, greenhouse, arboretum, an agricultural mechanics shop and most recently the development of the Student Farm, Agricultural Campus and construction of the Agriculture and Education Building and other facilities at the farm. Sandy keeps the best interest of students at the heart of the program and all that she does. Ever humble, she never takes the credit herself, always touting the students, her colleagues, and the many contributors for the success of the program. For all of these reasons, we are delighted that the Herring family chose to name this facility in Sandy’s honor.”

In response Maddox said, “There are no words to describe how this makes me feel.  I am so humbled and honored.  A lot of people made this happen.  Together they are helping to move the program forward and doing it for the right reasons, which is for the students.  We still have a long way to go.  I just don’t know what else to say, I am truly humbled and excited for what this will mean for our students.”

Senior Animal Science major Rachel Ezzell shared her experiences seeing the Farm grow and develop over her past four years as a student.  “This farm gives students, like myself, who grew up on a farm, the opportunity to diversify their experiences and gives students who did not come from an agricultural background the ability to gain familiarity with current agricultural practices.

For me, the Farm and the agricultural curriculum have prepared me for anything that the industry throws my way. I am confident that the students that come after me will have the same opportunities that I have had as well as many more as the farm continues to grow and prosper.”

Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott quoted an old proverb, “‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day.  Teach him how to fish with the right line, the right bait, at the right time of day, and the right spot, he can actually be able to feed himself and his family for a lifetime.  And that is something worth fishing for!’  That is what we want to accomplish here on this farm.  Thank you Dr. Sandy Maddox and your dedicated department that have made this program a shining gem for the University and Mount Olive.”

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, in Smithfield at Johnston Community College, and online.  For more information, visit www.umo.edu.

Pictured L-R:  UMO Trustee Howard Scott and his wife Sharlene Scott; Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott; NC Representative Jimmy Dixon; President of Golden LEAF Foundation Dan Gerlach; Vice President of Hog Slat Inc./ TDM Farms David Herring; Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center and Chair of the Division of Agriculture Dr. Sandy Maddox; UMO Board Chair Earl W. Worley, Jr.; UMO President Dr. David Poole; wife of the late George R, Kornegay, Jr., Dr. Barbara Kornegay, and her daughter Katherine Buie; UMO Trustee Donnie Lassiter and his wife Linda Lassiter; members of the George R. Kornegay, Jr. Family Stephanie Kornegay, Parker Kornegay, Charlotte Kornegay, and Kevin Kornegay; and UMO student Rachel Ezzell