MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. — University of Mount Olive (UMO) Associate Professor of Animal Science Dr. Heather Glennon enjoys working around animals. “It’s the first thing I do when I get up and the last thing I do before I go in the house at night,” she said. “The human-animal bond is very special and provides peace in this otherwise chaotic time.”
Glennon and her husband, Jay, have 50 goats, five dogs, multiple chickens, and several cats on their 40-acre farm in Nash County. “We raise most of our own food (pork, beef, chicken, and eggs),” she said. “If we have time, we also grow some vegetables.”
Glennon grew up on small farms in FL, MD, and PA, but her love for animals began when she started raising and showing animals through the 4-H and FFA programs. After high school, she earned her B.S. in animal science from Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania, then studied at North Carolina State University (NSCU) where she earned her M.S. in animal science and her Ph.D. in crop science with a minor in soil science. After working at both Penn State and NCSU, Glennon joined the University of Mount Olive in 2015.
Dr. Heather Glennon, second from left, talks about the qualities of a productive laying hen with Cameron Knudsen, Rebekah Lilian VanHorn, and Wyatt Daly.
At UMO, Glennon teaches Introduction to Animal Science, Animal Production and Management, Animal Nutrition, Forage and Weed Management, and Issues in Agriculture. A typical day for her includes teaching one or two morning classes, meeting students during her office hours, heading to Kornegay Student Farm to check on the animals and pastures, setting up supplies in the lab, conducting a lab, then working with students outside with the animals or in the pastures for several hours. Often times, at 5:00 PM, she has meetings with either the Dairy Challenge, Animal Science Club, or CFFA organizations. Once Glennon gets home, she takes care of the chores at her own farm, then spends the evenings emailing students, grading papers, and preparing classes. It is a busy schedule, but one she finds fulfilling.
“I enjoy teaching students about how to raise their own food and leading labs at the Kornegay Student Farm where they can participate in hands-on activities,” she said. “I especially love seeing those ah-ha moments when concepts click, or when students complete a task they absolutely did not think they could do, like driving a tractor. I also like learning about each individual student and figuring out how I can help them reach their career goals. Beyond all of those things, teaching allows me to stay current in the field of animal science.”
Dr. Heather Glennon, far right, discusses calf conformation with Harley Parker and Rylee Schofield.
For Glennon, the best part about teaching at UMO is having access to the Kornegay Student Farm, where students gain hands-on experience with animals and crops. “We use the animals to educate about animal behavior, handling, animal health, and nutrition,” she said.
Glennon provides opportunities for students to work in small groups with an animal to become more comfortable around it, take vital signs, and perform management practices like deworming and trimming hooves. She leads a calf project, which provides opportunities for students to learn how to mix milk, bottle feed, and halter break the calves. In the spring, when the goats and the sheep have babies, the students learn to care for them. “We also incubate and raise chickens and turkeys every year in class,” she added.
During the poultry project, students conduct a small research project about animal growth. They then select one bird to work with during the semester. A poultry show is held during the last week of classes, and the students are judged on their handling of the bird, as well as the bird’s appearance. The students also sell eggs from the pasture-raised hens.
Glennon is always on the lookout for external opportunities that enrich her classroom lectures or that lead to student internships and career experiences. She believes students need to experience something to fully grasp and remember it. “Lectures and videos can provide background on a topic, but nothing beats getting your hands dirty,” she said. “Companies are looking for employees that can solve problems, and our students are better prepared for their careers, because they have taken part in a diverse set of experiences through the UMO ag program.”
In the foreground, Dr. Heather Glennon (left) demonstrates the proper site for calf injections as Caroline Birchmore and Lauren Brown observe.
Glennon not only talks the talk of agriculture, she walks the walk, and that’s what her current and former students like most about her and her teaching style. “Being able to learn from and work with Dr. Glennon for the past four years has been nothing short of amazing,” said Cabarrus County Livestock & Field Crops Agent Mackenzie Hall, one of Glennon’s former students. “Dr. Glennon pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened up opportunities that I never thought were possible. I competed on multiple teams under her coaching such as Forage Bowl and Dairy Challenge. They were some of the best and most rewarding times of my college career. We often joked and called Dr. Glennon ‘mom,’ because she not only cared for us as her own, but actually took the time to teach us valuable life lessons. She has also taught me to not be afraid of broadening my horizons to have diversified skills, which makes you more desirable to employers. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. To this day, I often talk to her when I have a problem or need advice. She is a wonderful mentor and a lifelong friend.”
Current UMO student Tessa Seitter said, “Dr. Glennon is exceptionally knowledgeable, has amazing wit, determination, and encourages ag students to try out new experiences in various livestock productions. Having dedicated teachers and professors like Dr. Glennon is the reason why students enjoy being at UMO. Dr. Glennon plants a seed of passion and desire in all of us; growing a love for animals and succeeding both in the classroom and out in the agriculture industry.”
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. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.
–Rhonda Jessup, University of Mount Olive