Show Me! Field days are the ‘how-to’ of agriculture instruction

By Tom Hallman

You probably learned the story -- or some version of it -- in elementary school.  

How the Pilgrims suffered through their first harsh winter in the new Plymouth Colony -- cold, hungry, ill-educated and unprepared for life in the New World.  

Then came Tisquantum, a member of the Patuxet tribe, popularly known as Squanto. He showed the newcomers how to plant corn. How to fertilize it with the carcasses of native fish. How to catch those fish.  

How to.  

You might call Squanto the first county agent. And his method of instruction, a tribute to the nickname of Missouri, formed the foundation of American agricultural education from that day forward.  

Field days -- those hands-on instructional demonstrations that are ubiquitous in agriculture -- have been an integral part of the land-grant university system since the Morrill Act was established more than 150 years ago.  

While the science has become somewhat more sophisticated since Squanto side-dressed that Massachusetts maize with decaying menhaden, the principle is still the same: Take the necessary knowledge to the people who need it. Show them what they need to know.  

Clemson Extension specialists and county agents do this week-in and week-out in every corner of South Carolina, showing farmers and agribusinesses how to make the most of the latest research-driven knowledge. Here’s a short sampling of field days from around the state.  

For more information on field days and researcht these Clemson Research and Education Centers, visit them online at: