Commissioner Hugh Weathers: Commissioner’s School for Agriculture

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It is never too early for high school students to learn about different careers, and the South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture gives students that opportunity each summer. Last week, 38 high school juniors and seniors from the Southeast (SC, TN, and GA) attended the school at Clemson University. SC Commissioner Hugh Weather joins me now with more.

  • The South Carolina Commissioner’s School for Agriculture is coordinated by the SC Department of Agriculture and Clemson University’s College of Agriculture, Forestry & Life Sciences.
  • The program started in 2004 and has graduated over 500 students. The program does not use any state dollars and is supported by generous sponsors who help keep tuition costs low for students.
  • Commissioner’s School is a week-long summer academic program held on Clemson University’s campus. The participants are entering their junior and senior years of high school and are interested in pursuing a degree in agriculture or natural resources.
  • A rigorous schedule of academic sessions and laboratory research gives students insight to horticulture, turf grass, soil science, forestry, wildlife and environmental sciences, and animal science.
  • This year, the group got to travel off campus one day to visit three great industry partners to the program: Amick Farms, Log Creek Timber, and Titan Farms. Participants also enjoyed a Certified SC Grown meal at a Farm to Table dinner
  • Blanche and I were able to go up Wednesday evening to attend the etiquette dinner and speak with the students.
  • On Thursday night, the students participated in a discussion meet. They were given three topics prior to attending Commissioner’s School and were judged based on their ability to work together to create a solution to the agriculture issue. The two topics were corporate vs. family farms and food labeling.
  • The week also included leadership and team building activities, as well as rafting trip down the Chattooga River, which is one of the most exciting and memorable parts of the week. They’re building personal relationships outside of academics, figuring out how to work together, and having a great time along the way.
  • On Friday, I attended the closing reception for parents, students and sponsors. The students received their certificates for completing the program.
  • The students who attend Commissioner’s School complete an application process and are selected by a committee based on their academic standing and their passions for their industry. Applications for next year’s program will be released in January 2019.