The University of Mount Olive and Johnston County Schools Sign Agreement

MOUNT OLIVE— High school students of today have more educational options than ever before. Schools of choice, college classes, and online virtual courses are available to ensure that graduates will be well trained and globally competitive. Johnston County Schools (JCS) is one of the school systems looking to the future and making partnerships that will benefit its students and ultimately their futures.

Recently Johnston County Schools entered into a partnership agreement with the University of Mount Olive (UMO) to bring university level agriculture courses to students at South Johnston High School. In the agreement, high school juniors and seniors will be eligible to enroll in post-secondary coursework as part of South Johnston’s Agricultural Academy. UMO courses will be provided as a part of a tuition-waived program available to students participating in the Academy who maintain a 3.0 grade point average in their high school courses. The courses, some of which are onsite and some online, can lead to an associate degree in agriculture.

According to Dr. Sandy Maddox, director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at the University of Mount Olive, students who enroll and complete the South Johnston High School Ag Academy will earn enough university course credit that they will only need to take one additional semester of university courses to get an associate degree in agriculture.  She went on to note that students upon completion of the associate degree can continue enrollment at UMO to obtain their bachelor of science degree in agriculture education or agricultural production systems in only an additional two years of study.

This unique partnership, which may be the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina between a high school and four-year institution focused on agriculture, is set to begin at the start of the spring 2016 semester.

Maddox said, “We are trying to meet the ever increasing need for an educated workforce in the fields of agriculture education and agribusiness.  By creating innovative partnerships such as the Agricultural Academy, which allows South Johnston graduates to obtain a BS degree in 2 ½ years after completing the Academy, we are positioning our students and our educational institutions to better meet this need.”

During the signing of the agreement, JCS Superintendent Dr. Edward Croom said, “This is a great day for Johnston County and our students who have an interest in agricultural education.  My vision is to spread this program throughout Johnston County so that every student can take part in this program.”