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Agriculture community takes the stage at Spotlight on Ag

Clinton, South Carolina – More than 430 farmers and supporters of the farm community in Laurens County gathered last Thursday evening for the annual Spotlight on Agriculture, learning

Eddie Alexander of Mountville gets a standing ovation when he’s named Agriculturalist of the Year. All photos by Judith Brown

about the plans for the new school of Veterinary Medicine at Clemson University and awarding its Agriculturalist of the Year Award to 96-year-old Eddie Alexander of Mountville.
“Mr. Eddie Alexander moved to the family farm when he was 2 years old,” said Annette Bodie who presented the award. “He started plowing with a mule when he was 14, and he said he never had to hoe cotton on the farm because he was so good with the mule.”
After Alexander retired from Monsanto in 1984, he started growing strawberries, and since that time he’s been joined by his children Tricia Green and Mike Alexander. In addition to strawberries, the farm now includes beef cattle, a small dairy herd, broilers, hay and vegetables.
“At 96 he still actively drives a tractor, cuts and bales hay, feeds and manages the cattle and whatever else needs to be done,” Bodie said, inviting Alexander up as he received a standing ovation.
As the keynote speaker, Steven Marks, the Dean of Clemson’s School of Veterinary Medicine, said when the veterinary school opens in the fall of 2026, it plans to prepare its first class of veterinarians with not only the training to be well-rounded vets but also a concentration on agricultural animals.

Dean of Clemson’s planned Veterinary School Dr. Steven Marks

“The veterinary school’s location will be near the Dairy, Beef and Equine centers of campus, and this location gives a huge advantage to Clemson students that other universities wouldn’t have,” Marks said. “Of the 80 students which will be accepted into the first class, 75 percent will be South Carolina undergrads and the other one fourth will be out of state. The goal is to get them trained in South Carolina and hopefully they will stay in South Carolina.”
Other Spotlight on Ag award winners were Jim Curry, his wife Susan and their daughter Jenna – Farm Family of the Year; Braden and Mary Grace Iusti with their new pumpkin farm, The Patch – Special Commodity Producer; Jody Prosser of Barefoot Acres – Horticulturalist of the Year; and Amber Ettinger with Will-Do Jerseys – Dairyman of the Year.
Both Rob Roper and Tim Faulkner were selected as Broiler Producers of the Year; Dusty Dyal was named Cattleman of the Year; James Fleming won Woodlands Manager of the Year; and George Copeland received the Laurens County Lifetime Service Award.

John Irwin presented Dr. George Copeland with a Lifetime Service Award

Many county students were also honored for their agriculture, 4-H and FFA work.
Those included Hannah Nelson, who won both the Clinton High Outstanding FFA Member award and the Clemson Extension Advisory Council scholarship, and Victoria Wood, who won the LDHS Outstanding FFA member award.
Novah Wood, Zora Hartmann and Shelby Birkenstock were named as Outstanding 4-H Junior candidates and Allison Jewell  and Means Morgan were named as  Outstanding 4-H Senior candidates.

See Laurens County Advertiser Facebook Page for more photos.

This story originally ran Page 1 of the Wednesday, March 20 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.

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