Ever think about the food you eat? This Tiger does. As a child, he picked peaches each summer on his parents’ farm. Today, he conducts research on them as well as a variety of other fruits and vegetables. Consistent with Clemson’s land-grant mission, this Tiger shares best practices with farmers and educates the public – especially kids – about where their food comes from.

Meet Zack Snipes.

Title: County Extension Agent

Years at Clemson: 7 years (One as an intern, 2.5 as a graduate student, and 3.5 as an extension agent)

What I do at Clemson: I work with commercial fruit and vegetable growers in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I help growers with every aspect of producing a crop from soil preparation to making the final sale.  I make pesticide recommendations, monitor for insects and diseases and assist in food safety needs. I conduct many on-farm research trials testing new chemicals, new varieties and trying out new production methods.  The beauty of my job is that it is never the same. NEVER. The types of crops we grow change, the diseases, insects and weeds change, the weather changes and the markets farmers sell to change. Because so many things change, it gives me new opportunities every day to adapt, learn and help others. I love being involved with the growers I work with and I love being part of their success.

What I love about Clemson: I love the Clemson Family. The land-grant mission of Clemson recruits a special type of people that have the heart of a true servant. Everyone I work with is connected to the lives of the people they serve in every nook and cranny in the state of South Carolina. This network makes Clemson feel like one big family that is here to serve one another.

Pic of Zack Snipes in the fieldAccomplishment I’m most proud of: In addition to helping commercial farmers with their production needs, I am passionate about teaching youth the importance of where their food comes from.  I am a co-developer in the School Gardening for South Carolina Educators program that has put in and sustained more than 150 school gardens. This program has been extremely successful in teaching students where their food comes from. We get many pictures of students harvesting broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes and collards which puts a smile on my face. We have also had hundreds of testimonies about how the gardens are influencing student’s lives by being more than just a garden. We hear stories of how students with behavioral or emotional issues have transformed their situation simply by getting outside and gardening. We also hear stories about how children are eating more fruits and vegetables that “they would never eat” if they hadn’t grown it themselves. My favorite story however was from a teacher that said she had a few students that would have dropped out of high school had it not been for the gardens. The gardens gave them something to look forward to everyday. Our goal is to have a school garden in every school in the state!

Where I see myself in five years: On a fishing boat in the Caribbean (dreaming of an early retirement).

Last thing I watched on TV: Big Bang Theory

Guilty pleasure: Cooking. My mom taught me how to cook at an early age and I became really interested in trying new things, styles and techniques. I am passionate about growing, hunting, catching, and finding the food I eat. I think there is a real connection to the food I eat if I know exactly where every bite came from. If I can be involved in the entire process from planting, hunting, catching, finding, preparing and finally eating food, then it is a complete meal.

Read more about Snipes.

Want to nominate a colleague to be featured in Meet a Tiger? Contact Jackie Todd at jtodd3@clemson.edu.