From UMO Media Relations
MOUNT OLIVE — University of Mount Olive women’s basketball student-athlete Leah Williams has a talent for producing talent both on and off the basketball court. The junior from Autryville, N.C. recently completed an internship with Kornegay Family Farms (KFF) in Princeton during the summer. She looks to bring her knowledge back to UMO and beyond.
Williams, an agricultural business major, has a special bond to the agricultural industry as her family has been farming for over 40 years. Williams Produce Farms harvest almost every native crop to Eastern North Carolina, including watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, okra, zucchini, squash, bell pepper, eggplant, broccoli, collards, and turnips. “We basically grow it all on our farm,” said Williams.
The family farm is a produce to sell farm with a retail market located on the farm selling the harvested crops to the public. The family also sells its products wholesale to different farmers’ markets and grocery stores.
The substantial family experience in her pocket allowed Williams to set off for a summer at a different farm. Kornegay Family Farms specializes in tobacco, sweet potatoes, watermelons, butternut squash, and some row crops (cotton, soybeans).
Williams focused her time in the office at KFF getting experience in field map organization, accounting books, and sanitation management, to name a few.
“I worked on sending out pallets of sweet potatoes and watermelons, and this was different compared to how we do it at my farm,” Williams said.
She also helped with the farm’s phytosanitary being shipped overseas to their sellers. One of Williams’s most crucial assignments was preparing for the GlobalGap audit KFF is facing in October.
GlobalGap is a global certification that allows farmers to be able to sell anywhere in the world. Farmers, to obtain this certification, must go through an audit and meet all requirements that the certification asks for on the day that the auditor comes to visit the farm.
Kornegay Farms is a global agricultural business, and Williams touched on the ability to become global.
“At Kornegay, they look to send 80% of their sweet potato crop overseas, so I learned that knowing how to get your product to different countries is one step and then making sure that you can offer your customers something new or such as packing methods of sweet potatoes is important,” Williams said.
The junior is deep into her major courses at UMO and echos the education she has received as a staple for preparing her for a career in the agricultural industry.
“The marketing classes I’ve taken thus far have helped me understand how marketing plays a huge factor in selling any type of product and how Kornegay Farms sells and markets its products globally,” Williams said.
Every step a student takes toward graduation would not be possible without some guidance and Williams said Dr. Kimberly Tungate has been her guiding light at UMO.
“Dr. Tungate is so encouraging, helpful, and has a great sense of humor. She is always telling me I can do anything I put my mind to because I have what it takes,” Williams said.
Representing the University of Mount Olive as a college athlete presents another avenue for the junior to produce a different product, as Williams competes as a member of the Trojans’ women’s basketball team in NCAA Division II.
“To be a college athlete takes a lot of hard work and that is something not everyone has, you either have it, or you don’t. In pursuit of a degree, I think of it the same way, but now I have to perform in the classroom to be able to perform on the court, so it really helps me stay focused on the end goal,” Williams said.
Upon graduation, Williams plans to return to the Williams family farm to help grow the family business.