UMO Hosts Third Annual SAE Camp

UMO Hosts Third Annual SAE Camp

MOUNT OLIVE- Several high school FFA students and teachers from 15 counties in NC recently participated in a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) Camp at the University of Mount Olive. It is the third year for the camp. Traveling from as far north as Franklin County and as far south as Robeson County, the participants enjoyed a week of learning, fun, and all things agriculture.

Camp participants were shown the value of SAEs while visiting sites of five local SAE projects. The projects included a welding shop tour, visit to a local farm, talk and taste-testing at a blackberry jelly operation, and visit to a sunflower farm.

Day two of the camp included lessons in business etiquette and planning, as well as resume building. Participants were shown how to document SAE projects through a program called AET, a record keeping system currently used in the agricultural field.

At the halfway mark of the week, campers were split into three groups where they were exposed to the meaning of giving back through agriculture. The groups volunteered at Habitat for Humanity in Selma, the Eastern Baptist Association in Rose Hill, and the Gleaning Food Pantry in Autryville. They assisted in preparing lunches and stocking supplies for the needy.

Never failing to end each day with a bang, students were provided with a number of recreational activities including water slide volleyball, an ice cream social, bowling, and even an outdoor movie at UMO’s Kornegay Farm.

“I had so much fun at this camp,” noted one participant. “It has been a great week to build our knowledge in SAE, and has given us many good ideas to take back to our schools.”

The final days of camp were spent touring Carolina Beach State Park and the Aquarium at Fort Fisher. At a celebratory luncheon, students were presented with certificates of completion, as well as 45 hours of SAE credit. Teachers were awarded three CEU credits.

“The SAE Camp has allowed me to understand a new perspective for experiential learning outside of the classroom,” expressed Chris Hicks, an agriculture teacher at Topsail High School. “I now feel confident that I can go back to my program and teach students how to develop meaningful SAE projects that will prepare them for their future careers.”

The SAE camp at UMO has been funded for the past three years by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission through a sponsored program grant.

“The SAE Camps held at UMO are significant for students because they get hands on agriculture-related learning experiences that they might not otherwise receive,” said Dr. Sandy Maddox, Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at UMO. “The activities provide participants with opportunities to develop leadership and a work ethic that will serve them throughout their college and work careers. We are hosting more than just a camp at UMO, we are hosting a life-changing experience.”

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

Paul Eldridge a former UMO SAE camp participant talks about his SAE project with the 2019 campers.  Eldridge has a garden and farm market in Smithfield that was started as a high school SAE project.

UMO student Noah Stewart talks to SAE campers about the welding business he started in Goldsboro as a result of his SAE project.

UMO student James Johnson (far right) gives out blackberry jelly samples to SAE campers. Johnson produces and sells blackberries and jelly as a result of his high school SAE project.

Paul Eldridge of Smithfield talks about how he uses modern technology with his SAE-started farm business.