Group shot of commissioner's school particpants.

Thirty-six high school juniors and seniors from as far away as California took part in the annual South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture.

CLEMSON — Thirty-six high school juniors and seniors took part in the annual South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture (SCCSA) last month. Students from South Carolina, North Carolina, California and Pennsylvania attended the summer academic program.

“The goal of the school is to expose ambitious high school students to the array of career and educational opportunities in agriculture, natural resources and life sciences. The school appeals to students who want to make an impact and tackle global problems, such as increasing our food supply, creating a sustainable environment and improving human and non-human health through the biomedical sciences,” said program director Katie Black. “Plus we have a lot fun, and if they leave here with their blood running Clemson orange, then that’s great, too.”

Clemson University Director of Cooperative Extension Tom Dobbins first implemented the program in 2004 as a partnership between Clemson University and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. To date there are more than 460 alumni representing every county in South Carolina and many states across the country.

The students were able to get a varied view of the industries and the majors in Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. They participated in various academic activities, took trips to the field and met with industry professionals throughout the program.

Students watching sprinklers spray water in Death Valley.

Students learned about the science of turfgrass, in addition to many other subjects.

“I liked the wide scope of fields we were exposed to and the opportunities to network with esteemed individuals working in those fields,” said Ashley Crunk from Greer. “I also loved being given the opportunity to make friends with likeminded peers and hope to see them at Clemson next year.”

Each year, the Dobbins Founder Award is presented to a group of participants selected for their involvement, character, and enthusiasm throughout the program. The 2016 Dobbins Founder Award recipients are: Ross Good, Hershey, Pennsylvania; Phillip Rhodes, Calhoun Falls; Mac Gallman Gastonia, North Carolina; Ashley Crunk, Greer; Riley Moss, York; Lexie Yarborough, Swansea; and Mary-Frances Behenke, Greenville.

“The tour of the horticulture department made the biggest impact on me because I learned about the many career and internship opportunities in the field,” said Mary-Frances Behenke. “SCCSA made me very proud of Clemson and of South Carolina.”

Participants included:

Joe, Barron, Plum Branch
Mary-France, Behenke, Greenville
Matthew, Bonnette, Little Mountain
Thomas , Boulware, Beaufort
Stephanie, Braswell, Clinton
Kyle, Carson, Cameron
Ashley , Crunk, Greer
Hunter, Dove, Anderson
Mac, Gallman, Gastonia, North Carolina
Cale, Gamble, Gable
Mason, Gibbs, Aiken
Michaela, Gibson, Pickens
Ross, Good, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Carey, Herndon, Bamberg
Gracie, Herrin, Ridge Spring
Alexander, Hooper, Vance
Cal, Hucks, Elgin
Mackenzie, Jones, Anderson
Liv, Lininger, Tega Cay
Claire, Manuel, Fairfax
Lydia , McClain, Troutman, North Carolina
Riley, Moss, York
Anshuman, Pendse, Milpitas, California
Kaleigh, Pickron, Anderson
Philip, Rhodes, Calhoun Falls
Kendall, Schmidt, Moraga, California
Richard , Shurman, Florence
Kyle, Smith, Clinton
Sallie, Spencer, Sumter
Hart, Teska, McConnells
Tanner, Turner, Salley
Terrandha, Wallace, Barnwell
Bridget, Wilson, Irmo
McKayla, Winburn, Bethune
Nicole, Workman, Cope
Lexie, Yarborough, Swansea