State FFA Officers Enjoying UMO Experience
MOUNT OLIVE – Alan Johnson of Seven Springs and Sarah Swain of Morehead City have two things in common: they hold the top two FFA state officer positions and they are University of Mount Olive (UMO) Trojans majoring in agricultural education.
Johnson, a graduate of Spring Creek High School and a UMO freshmen, is President of the NC FFA. Swain of Morehead City is a UMO sophomore and holds one of the five Vice President positions of the NC FFA.
With excellent grades and academic resumes filled with many accolades and activities, this pair could have selected anywhere for their collegiate pursuits. They chose UMO because of its strong and active Department of Agriculture.
“Coming from Seven Springs, I had visited the University of Mount Olive many times,” Johnson said. “I had also attended several FFA events held on the campus, so I was familiar with the setting. However, the thing that really sold me about UMO was their friendliness. I remember talking with Dr. Sandy Maddox. She told me that I would be a perfect addition to their program, and that she really wanted me to come to UMO. I was sold!”
Johnson’s FFA journey began in seventh grade. “I was interested in livestock judging, and that is why I joined,” he said. “But soon after, I came to realize that FFA is so much more than I thought it was.”
While in high school, Johnson served as his chapter's Treasurer, Vice-President, and President. He also served as Tobacco Federation President and Southeast Region Vice-President. In 2016, he represented North Carolina as a National Delegate at the 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo.
Through his membership in FFA, Johnson has participated in various Career Development Events (CDEs), some of his favorites being parliamentary procedure, extemporaneous public speaking, and livestock judging. He also valued the time he spent at White Lake attending State Leadership Conference (SLC) camp, as well as his involvement in Washington Leadership Conference.
Johnson's interest in agriculture came from his grandpa, who was a retired tobacco and broiler producer in his hometown. He was very involved in Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) as well. In 2016, he placed gold at the national level in his proficiency area in diversified livestock production.
Swain began her FFA journey at West Carteret High School as the chapter's creed speaker. “Little did I know that this decision would drastically change my life,” she said.
Swain has competed in various CDEs ranging from floriculture to job interview. Her SAE focused on agricultural education, which she knew was her passion. Swain has also held multiple leadership roles in FFA, including: Chapter Sentinel (2013-2014), Chapter President (2014-2016), Southeast Region Vice President (2014-2015), Southeast Region President (2015-2016). Whether leading students in workshops or helping set up for regional and chapter activities, she has always strived to "live to serve".
As a UMO sophomore, Swain already has a year of college under her belt, and last year she served as a Collegiate FFA officer. She credits her position as an NC FFA officer to her time growing at UMO. “It was the encouragement and support of those around me that has gotten me to where I am today," she said.
Johnson and Swain agree that their experience at UMO can only further propel their agricultural careers. “I feel in every way that I will be able to use my experience in college and the resources that the professors offer to better myself,” Johnson said.
As State FFA Officers, Johnson and Swain will travel across North Carolina, meet industry representatives and go to conferences, on top of their busy academic schedules. Their goal is to help grow NC FFA and promote agriculture awareness and education throughout the state.
“We will be busy, but it will be worth it with the experience and connections we will gain,” Swain said.
“We are so excited to have these two state FFA officers at the University of Mount Olive,” said Dr. Sandy Maddox, Director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at UMO. “Sarah and Alan are wonderful ambassadors for our ag programs and they are well-respected among high school FFA members and members of the agriculture community. They will be true leaders within the UMO Department of Agriculture.”
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 www.umo.edu.