Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette paid a visit to the South Carolina Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe on Thursday for a firsthand look at the future of agriculture in the state.
En route to an event in Aiken, Lt. Gov. Evette spent about 90 minutes touring the 1,310-acre working farm in rural McCormick County and visiting with students and staff at the nation’s only residential high school devoted to agricultural education.
"I am so impressed – so impressed by what’s going on out here and so impressed by the students that are here," Lt. Gov. Evette said at the end of her visit. "So many times we see in the news, the national news, about all the things that kids are doing wrong. But all these children have taken the path-less-traveled to do something that they’re really passionate about. That gives us hope for the future, and our future is bright. We always say that here in South Carolina, and these students are a testament to that."
The lieutenant governor was welcomed to the campus by agency president Tim Keown and principal Greg Thompson, as well as by members of the school’s non-profit foundation and its new executive director, Stacie Smith.
"We are honored to host Lt. Governor Evette on our historic campus! I’m always excited to showcase our amazing students, faculty, and staff," Mr. Keown said. "Lt. Governor Evette seemed really impressed with the major growth and change our agency has achieved in the last two and a half years. Having her support proves we are moving in the right direction, and for that I am thankful."
In the school’s library, the lieutenant governor chatted with student leaders J.C. Chandler of Belton and Caitlyn Krout of Fair Play about their academic studies along the school’s four pathways: animal science, plant science, wildlife and natural resources management, and agricultural mechanics and technology. She then stopped by the school’s ag mechanics shop to discuss career readiness with teacher Russ Abrams.
"Every place you go, you hear, 'I didn’t realize the impact our farmers have on us,'" Lt. Gov. Evette said. "Especially now, with food prices skyrocketing. Everybody’s starting to have a whole new appreciation. I said it this morning: If you see a farmer, thank a farmer – because that’s how we’re eating every day."
Lt. Gov. Evette stressed the importance of the mission to prepare students such as those at the Governor’s School for Agriculture to be college-ready and career-ready to meet the growing demand for skilled labor in South Carolina.
"We all know we need more farmers," she said. "You talk to our water commissioners; they need more water engineers, they need more soil engineers. By highlighting why those are really great career choices, all we’re doing is opening up our future – and that’s what the Governor’s School is doing."
Following a driving tour of the campus – which included a visit to the tomb of the school’s namesake, French physician Dr. John de la Howe – the lieutenant governor returned to the school cafeteria for a photo opportunity. Afterwards, she stood inside a circle of students and encouraged them to continue the noble mission of advancing agriculture in the Palmetto State.
"I think Agriculture Commissioner (Hugh) Weathers is extremely proud of the Governor’s School for Agriculture," Lt. Gov. Evette said. "Hugh has got a lot to brag about, and so do I. I told everybody here, the students here, as you reach big milestones, please reach out to me because I would love to brag about you not just around the state but across the nation. That’s one of the things I enjoy most – bragging about South Carolina."