SCCSA students visiting Musser Center

SCCSA students visited Clemson teaching and research facilities such as the Musser Fruit Research Center
Image Credit: Clemson University

CLEMSON — Forty-one high school juniors and seniors took a break from their summer vacations to prepare for their futures at the South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture (SCCSA). Students from South Carolina, Texas, New York, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina attended the summer academic program July 18-24 at Clemson University.

The SCCSA is a premier summer program that exposes students to college majors and potential careers in agriculture and natural resources. Throughout the week, students took part in academic projects, field tours and laboratory exercises, all while gaining skills in leadership and professional development.

South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said, “In order to maintain agriculture and forestry as the combined No. 1 industry in our state, it is critical to develop the next generation of agricultural leaders. Having operated SCCSA for 12 years, we have found that this program is a great way to inspire college-bound students to choose careers in agriculture that will grow the industry and meet the needs of the future.”

The program was started in 2004 by Clemson University Director of Cooperative Extension Tom Dobbins. More than 425 students have graduated. The South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture is a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) and Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

SCCSA students in a stream

SCCSA students learning about fresh water ecology.

“I am thankful to Commissioner Weathers for supporting the SCCSA for all these years. The school is an integral part of Clemson’s commitment to producing the next generation of leaders in South Carolina’s number one industry of agribusiness. It’s always exciting to see another accomplished group of young people experience the array of career and educational opportunities in agriculture, natural resources and life sciences,” said Dobbins.

Each year, an elite group of participants is selected to receive the Dobbins Founder Award based on their involvement, character and enthusiasm throughout the week. The 2015 Dobbins Founder Award recipients are: Austin Cathcart (Irmo), Julianna Corbin (Brunson, South Carolina), Ben Hayt (Port Washington, New York), Joey McCannon (Pendleton), Hudson Orders (Moore), McKenzie Sanders (Barnwell) and Caroline Sharpe (Hilda, South Carolina).

Participants in the school include:

  1. Gavin Allan, Summerton
  2. Travis Avent, Cameron
  3. Evan Bailey, Mount Pleasant
  4. Maggie Barnett, Pendleton
  5. Ren Beam, Blackstock
  6. DeeDee Brown, Ninety Six
  7. Rebecca Cantley, Holly Hill
  8. Holly Carlisle, Pinewood
  9. Austin Cathcart, Irmo
  10. Jacob Cathcart, Irmo
  11. Bryce Compton, Bamberg
  12. Julianna Corbin, Brunson
  13. Lillie Dewar, Fort Worth, Texas
  14. Kemp DeWitt, Darlington
  15. Nancy Blair Gonzalez, Blair
  16. Weston Green, Lynchburg
  17. Benjamin Hayt, Port Washington, New York
  18. Antoine Hernandez, Pendleton
  19. Robert Hunter, Greenville
  20. William Hunter, Greenville
  21. Kayla Janecek, Louisville, Ohio
  22. Geddings Jhant, North Augusta
  23. William Jones, Florence
  24. Martina Leake, Honea Path
  25. Joey McCannon, Pendleton
  26. Kyle McCoy, McColl
  27. Ellerslie McCue, Columbia
  28. Gage McWatters, Clinton
  29. Jacob Moreland, Central
  30. Amarillo Nivens, Clover
  31. Hank Nix, Gramling
  32. Hudson Orders, Moore
  33. Chandani Patel, Seneca
  34. Madison Price, Leesville
  35. Kaitlin Richey, Honea Path
  36. MaKenzie Sanders, Barnwell
  37. Caroline Sharpe, Hilda
  38. Matthew Shield, Williamsburg, Virginia
  39. Kaytlynn Simmons, Hartsville
  40. Wes Ulmer III, Lodge
  41. Madeline Wilhelm, Mount Ulla, North Carolina

Applications for the 2016 Commissioner’s School will be available in January. For more information, contact Clemson’s Katie Black at