Vice President’s Message

George AskewWhen they reach 100, most centenarians can take a well-deserved moment to reflect on past accomplishments.

Some will look forward to the next hundred years.

Such is the case with the Cooperative Extension Service.

The concept of taking research-based knowledge from colleges and universities and putting it in the hands of working people - a revolutionary idea when Extension was founded - marks its hundredth birthday this year. And in the state of its birth - South Carolina - Extension is firmly facing forward to a new century of helping people improve their lives and their livelihoods.

Created in 1914, by the pen strokes of South Carolina congressman Frank Lever - a Clemson trustee and chairman of the House agriculture committee - and Georgia Senator Hoke Smith, Extension’s roots grow deep in the Palmetto State.

It was conceived in the tomato demonstration clubs of the Lowcountry and in the trains that took Clemson agriculture professors across the state to teach farmers and their families the best practices for growing crops, preserving food and safeguarding the land.

In the century since, Extension has shared the wealth of the nation’s knowledge in agriculture, natural resources, food safety and nutrition, economic and community development, and 4-H youth development with the people who needed it most. The productivity of American agriculture rose right along with that mission, and the process continues in very much the same way today. You’ll see it in the pages of this newsletter, as Extension specialists and county agents teach new, more cost-effective ways to fight diseases in strawberries, to diversify farming with profitable crops, and to produce and market food products to consumers.

Son of a Lexington County farmer - ironically, not far from the strawberry field on the cover of this magazine - Frank Lever knew the importance of building a strong agricultural infrastructure. He devoted his life to it.

Today as in Lever’s day, agriculture remains our state’s largest industry. Thanks to Frank Lever - and to the many professionals who have taken the torch to generations since - agriculture’s future looks just as bright as ever in the next century.

George Askew
Vice President for Public Service and Agriculture