Extension Emerging Leadership Initiative (EELI)

The Extension Emerging Leadership Initiative (EELI) is a professional development opportunity for Extension professionals who are dedicated to fulfilling Extension’s mission. Extension professionals who have the highest ethical standards and have demonstrated potential as future leaders will be selected to participate. The program will select up to 20 professionals that are either at the county or state level with a minimum of three years of experience with Extension.

Research from the Journal of Extension indicates that during the past decade, most public and private organizations, including the Cooperative Extension Service, are facing an era of leadership scarcity that could impact the ability to execute the mission and purpose. Thousands of baby boomers retire each day, and in an effort to prevent loss of skilled leadership, this program is being implemented to equip future leaders as the veteran agents, specialists, and administrators prepare for retirement.

To provide leadership and professional development training and experiences that will foster success in future leaders.


To develop a core group of successful leaders for Clemson Extension that will inspire, have vision and impact, and assist in moving the organization forward to meet the Extension mission.

Deon Legette and Dr. Thomas Dobbins with Frank Lever III

  • Provide opportunities for personal growth and career development
  • Enhance leaders’ roles at a higher level of excellence
  • Promote cohesion and team building among leaders
  • Promote and practice interpersonal skills in relevant situations
  • Provide tools and skills to enhance leadership



Must be a professional full-time employee (37.5 hours per week) with a minimum Bachelor’s degree and at least three full years of Extension work experience.

County Extension Agent or Extension Associate with at least a 50% Extension appointment are eligible. CAFLS professional staff and faculty with three years of service are also eligible to apply. Retired Extension professionals are not eligible.

Must have received at least a SUCCESSFUL on the EPMS for the last three rating periods and received no written or progressive disciplinary actions through Human Resources within the last two years.

EELI Group photo during community service

Applicants can nominate themselves, be nominated by a District Extension Director, Program Team Leader, Department Chair or direct supervisor. Supervisor must sign to acknowledge awareness of the nomination.

There is no monetary incentive for participating in this program. It is for professional development and leadership opportunities.

If selected, applicants must agree to continue to fulfill regular job duties during the period of involvement in the Extension Emerging Leadership Initiative.

Must complete and fulfill the program requirements as outlined each month.

Final selection of the 20 class participants will be based on quality and competitiveness of each application. The selection committee’s decision is final, and a rubric will be used to provide a fair score for each application. Participation and graduation from this initiative does not guarantee a leadership role or position within the organization.

Selected participants will be notified two weeks after the application deadline.

Class attendance is mandatory (unless approved for extenuating circumstances). If sessions are missed, class participants will not be allowed to graduate from the program and will not be eligible to advance to EELI 2.0.

Level I Topics
  • Personality Assessments
  • Effective Communication Styles
  • Conflict Management/Resolution
  • Team Building
  • Servant Leadership
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Principles of Leadership
  • Leadership Integrity and Ethics
  • Time Management
  • Public Policy/Advocacy
  • Organizational Culture

EELI 2.0

EELI 2.0 will focus on applying the knowledge and skills gained in Level I. EELI 2.0 is open only to those that have completed Level I.

Activities in EELI 2.0

Independent study – shadow or intern with a leader for at least 20 hours. Participants will be asked to share a summary of their experience at the opening class session. Your selected leader may work within Extension or outside of the organization.

*Monthly Accountability Conference Call/Coaching Sessions

*EELI 2.0 Class Sessions - 4 two-day sessions

Attendance is required.

These two-day sessions will begin at 9:00 am on the first day, and 8:00 am on the second day, ending by 3:00 pm (in various parts of the state). Overnight travel should be expected for most sessions.

Sessions will include interactive activities, case studies, scenarios, demonstrations, tours, etc.

Sessions are planned in various parts of the state. Location will depend on activities for the month.

Class Dates

September 8 and 9, 2021 – Clemson University

November 3, 2021 – Greenville, CU-ICAR

January 12 and 13, 2022 – Sandhill REC, Columbia

March 9 and 10, 2022 – SC State University

April 6, 2022 - Graduation – location TBA

Class of '21-'22

Clemson Extension and CAFLS

Lance Beecher, Asst Extension Specialist, CAFLS

Jeremy Greene, Professor of Entomology, CAFLS

Yashia Marshall, Grants Coordinator, CAFLS

Alana West, 4-H Agent, Newberry

Chad Carter, Food Safety/Systems Associate – Charleston

Ben Boyles, Agri-business Agent – York

Guinn Wallover, Water Resources – Berkeley

Katie Altman, Water Resources Agent – Sumter

Kevin Burkett, Agri-business Extension Associate – Sandhill

Dawn Stuckey, 4-H Agent – Colleton

Amber Starnes, Livestock Agent – Chesterfield

Jenny Mountford, 4-H Agent – Abbeville

Lauren Hood, 4-H Agent – York

Rhonda Matthews, Rural Health Extension Associate – Greenwood

William Hardee, Agronomy Agent – Horry

Sherry Davis-Livingston, 4-H Agent – Georgetown

Jason Gore, FFA/4-H Program Coordinator

Katie Shaw, 4-H Extension Associate – Sandhill

1890 Extension – South Carolina State University

Renee Hall, 4-H Agent – Upstate region, SCSU

Cornelius Hamilton, 4-H Agent – Low Country region, SCSU

Sydney Keith, Extension Agent – SCSU

2018-19 Inaugural Class

Will Culler, Area Extension Agent – Agribusiness, Lexington

Amy Dabbs, Area Extension Agent – Horticulture, Charleston

Jeff Fellers, Area Extension Agent – Natural Resources, Union

Stanley Green, Extension Associate – Agribusiness, Sandhill REC

Chris Heintze, Director – T. Ed Garrison Arena, Clemson

Faith Isreal, Area Extension Agent – Food Systems and Safety, Richland

Dr. Tarana Khan, State Program Coordinator – EFNEP, Sandhill REC

Terasa Lott, State Coordinator – SC Master Gardener Program, Florence

Kim Morganello, County Extension Agent – Water Resources, Charleston

Christine Patrick, County Extension Agent – Food Systems and Safety/EFNEP, Bamberg

Brittany Peacock, County Extension Agent – Livestock and Forages, Aiken

Derrick Phinney, Natural Resources Program Team Leader, Dorchester

Jaime Pohlman, County Extension Agent – 4-H, McCormick

Jessica Simpson, County Extension Agent – 4-H, Anderson

Zack Snipes, Area Horticulture Agent – Horticulture, Charleston

Terri Sumpter, County Extension Agent – 4-H, Sumter

Richard Lee Van Vlake, Area Extension Agent – Livestock and Forages, Florence

Marlyne Walker, County Extension Agent – EFNEP Specialist, Fairfield

Patricia Whitener, County Extension Agent – 4-H, Greenville

Steering Committee

Dr. Della Baker-Sprowl, Coordinator of Special Projects for the Director of Extension

Ms. Donna Bowen, Communications, CAFLS/Public Service and Agriculture

Mrs. Brittany Peacock , Livestock and Forages Agent, Aiken County, 2020 EELI graduate

Dr. Barry Garst, Professor, Youth Development Leadership

Dr. Susan Guynn, Director of Assessment and Scholarship, Cooperative Extension Service

Mrs. Deon S. Legette, EELI Program Coordinator and Asst. Director of Field Operations, Clemson Extension Service

Dr. Kendra Stewart-Tillman, Assistant Vice President for Diversity Education
Executive Director, Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center