John W. Parris of Columbia, SC, a native of Spartanburg County, was recently named recipient of the South Carolina Agricultural Advocate of the Year Award by the SC Advocates for Agriculture Organization.
The presentation was made jointly by Ronnie Summers, president of the organization and divisional president of AgSouth Farm Credit, and State Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers during a ceremony held at the Phillips Market Center located at the new State Farmers Market in West Columbia.
In presenting the award, Mr. Summers said, “Mr. Parris has made a monumental impact on agricultural science and technology education by promoting its significance as a viable twenty-first century curriculum offering in the public schools of this state.”
Parris, a 1958 graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Agricultural Education, served as an agricultural educator in Chester and Anderson prior to heading up the SC Land Resources Commission. He was among the first state agency heads in South Carolina to complete the Executive Institute for Government Officials by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Mr. Parris retired as executive director of the SC Land Resources Commission in 1994 with 36 years of state government service. Soon after retirement, he was employed as state director of public affairs for Agricultural Education and the FFA Organization. He served in that capacity for fifteen years and was known and recognized as the Voice of Agricultural Education in South Carolina and editor of the AGRI BIZ magazine.
A nationally recognized agricultural and natural resources conservation leader, Parris was the first South Carolinian named to the National Conservation Hall of Fame by the National Association of Conservation Districts. He was also recipient of the National Professional Conservationist Award, named Man of the Year in Service to South Carolina Agriculture by the Progressive Farmer magazine, presented the Centennial Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award by Clemson University, selected to receive the National FFA Organization’s VIP Award and presented the Order of the Palmetto, the highest recognition available to a South Carolinian for distinguished public service.
Mr. Parris is widely recognized for his leadership in promoting the acceptance and use of modern agricultural land management technology including conservation tillage and drip irrigation which has had a significant impact on the South Carolina agriculture industry in recent years. He chaired the first Eastern States Drip Irrigation Conference.
A long time member and past president of the historic Pendleton Farmers Society, Mr. Parris presently serves as a member and past chairman of Clemson University’s National Agricultural Alumni Board of Directors.