Jim Clements

Incoming President Jim Clements addresses Clemson Extension agents and specialsts at the university’s Madren Conference Center.
Image Credit: Clemson University

CLEMSON — The incoming president of Clemson University on Wednesday praised the school’s transformational role in extending knowledge beyond the campus to reach people in their homes, businesses and farms.

Speaking to Clemson Extension agents and specialists gathered for the agency’s annual conference, Jim Clements recalled the early agricultural programs that led to development of a national system of Cooperative Extension at land-grant colleges and universities.

“As early as 1905, Clemson was publishing a weekly fertilizer bulletin and mailing it to 12,000 farmers and agricultural businesses,” Clements told the group. “Special ‘Extension trains’ took faculty members throughout the state. They made 39 stops and made presentations to 8,400 people during the Fall 1905 tour.

“What happened a hundred years ago was transformational for the country,” he said. “The Clemson model became the national model.”

Clement noted the importance of South Carolina congressman and Clemson trustee Frank Lever, whose name is affixed to the Smith-Lever Act that created the national Cooperative Extension Service in 1914.

“The land-grant system and Cooperative Extension are among the greatest achievements in the history of this country in public access to education,” Clements said. “They were doing then what you are doing now: Trying to educate people, trying to improve their lives, trying to make a difference. As a land-grant university we have a special mission and we could not achieve that mission without you.”

Clements’ connection to the Extension Service is longstanding. As president of West Virginia University, he oversaw Extension programs in that state’s 55 counties. Nationally, he serves as chairman-elect of the board of directors of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities.

Clements officially takes the helm at Clemson Jan. 1.

He pledged strong support for the future of Extension programs in the state that was the cradle of the movement. “I promise I will be a strong advocate on your behalf, because I fully understand the value you add to the quality of life in South Carolina,” he said.

Also at the conference, Clemson bestowed honors on 11 Extension agents and specialists:

  • Mary Caflisch of Richland County received the Outstanding Service Award for her work improving water quality in South Carolina.
  • Danny Howard of Greenville County received the Alumni Distinguished Public Service Award In recognition of his service in agriculture and as regional lead agent for three Upstate counties.

Superior Performance awards were given to:

  • Mike Marshall of the Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, for his efforts to combat Palmer amaranth and to educate farmers on approaches that will effectively and economically control the weed;
  • Kimberly Counts of Charleston County, for building and strengthening partnerships to support sustainable protection of water resources; and
  • Kimberly Baker of Anderson County, for developing Food2Market, a program that helps food entrepreneurs meet safety regulations to sell their food products.

Team Awards were presented to the 4-H Forestry Team — Tom Brant and Jaime Pohlman of McCormick County, Stephen Pohlman of Edgefield County and Jeff Fellers of Union County — and the Irrigation Water Quality Program consisting of Sarah White and Dara Park at the university.