MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. — University of Mount Olive senior Isaac Best is majoring in agricultural production with a concentration in business. It is a major that will serve him well as he strives to grow and diversify his Sampson County family farm.
Isaac’s name is Biblical. It means laughter. It is a fitting name for the happy go lucky young man who likes to have a good time, laughs a lot, and aspires to make those around him happy as well. “My grandpa’s name was Isaac too,” Best said. “I find it very important to carry on family names, especially Biblical ones.”
Best was born and raised on his family’s farm in the outskirts of Newton Grove. He and his dad, farm about 400 acres of row crops and produce including cotton, peanuts, soybeans, squash, string beans, and turnips. From a young age, Best has loved farming. In fact, he started growing and selling his own produce when he was only eight years old. “Not many young people have the opportunity or desire to do that,” he said.
Best attended Hobbton High School, and throughout his time there, he held officer positions in FFA. When it came time to choose a college, the University of Mount Olive was top on his list. After all, his oldest sister, Sarah, who graduated from the University in 2017, highly recommended the school for its academics and its opportunities. With the goal of one day taking over the family farm, Best knew he would gain the knowledge and experience needed from UMO to be able take the farming operation to the next level.
“UMO has provided me with a place to learn and grow in faith, as well as provided me with real-world experience and knowledge,” Best said.
At UMO Best has been involved in the Young Farmer’s and Rancher’s Club, and just recently he completed an internship with a swine producer. “I have learned a great deal inside and outside the classroom,” Best said. “I have also been given many opportunities that have helped me grow both personally, professionally, and spiritually.”
Faith is a big part of who Best is. He has attended Newton Grove Baptist Church his entire life, and one day aspires to follow in his dad’s footsteps by becoming a Deacon at the church. “I always try to honor God in all that I do,” he said.
As a farmer, Best knows that faith and farming go hand-in-hand. He understands that it takes a strong faith and reliance on God to plant a seed that may or may not produce. “When planting every crop, I pray over its success and growth,” Best said.
“Seeing the plants break the soil and grow through all sorts of conditions to create an end product that will feed and clothe the world makes me realize just how much the Lord is in control. Even when our farm and our faith is tested, God always provides. Tough times don’t last, but tough people of faith do.”
Knowing that the University was founded in faith was a big selling point for Best. “Seeing how faith oriented the University is was something that helped solidify my decision to attend,” Best said. “The small classes and personal attention, makes UMO seem like another family.”
Outside of his academics, Best is busy as a volunteer fire fighter and working on the family farm. He is responsible for helping grow, harvest, and market most all of the produce, as well as assist in all day-to-day activities. “I recently purchased my own cotton picker and harvest my family’s crop, as well as custom harvesting for other local farmers,” he said. “My favorite thing to do in the world is farm with the goal of helping feed and cloth the world. At UMO, I am learning about new strategies, new technologies, and new techniques that will help me be more efficient and better at what I love most.”
Best is the son of Greg and Paula Best. He is the younger brother to his two sisters, Sarah and Lela.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
–Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive