Celebrating Agriculture: Laurens County Shines Bright

March 18, 2024

The 50th annual Laurens County Spotlight on Agriculture event, held on March 14 at the First Presbyterian Church Family Life Center in Clinton, was a resounding success.

As the largest event of its kind in the state, it attracted over 350 attendees, showcasing the vibrant agricultural community that thrives in Laurens County. The event, organized by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service Advisory Committee for Laurens County, is a testament to the enduring spirit of farming in the region.

“Laurens County Spotlight on Agriculture is not just an event; it’s a celebration of the dedication and hard work of our farmers and their families,” said Bryan Smith, Area Extension Agent for Laurens County. “It’s a time to recognize their significant contributions to our community and to shed light on the vital role agriculture plays in our daily lives.”

Agriculture is deeply ingrained in the fabric of Laurens County, with 840 farms averaging 146 acres in size. The statistics from the 2017 NASS Agricultural Census speak volumes about the county’s agricultural prowess: Livestock sales totaled $12.2 million, poultry and egg sales reached $44.6 million, and delivered timber value amounted to $17.1 million. Additionally, the county is home to a diverse range of livestock, including 10 million broilers, 9,700 beef cattle, and 1,378 dairy cattle, among others.

The event also served as a tribute to Marett L. Outz, the former Laurens County Extension Agent who initiated the Spotlight on Agriculture event in 1974. Laura Outz Dennie, his daughter, represented the family, sharing fond memories of her father’s commitment to farming and the community.

Among the highlights of the evening was the address by Dr. Steven L. Marks, Dean of Clemson’s new School of Veterinary Medicine, who emphasized the importance of addressing the national shortage of veterinarians, especially in animal agriculture. With a significant portion of Laurens County dedicated to farming and agriculture, initiatives like these are crucial for sustaining the industry.

The event also recognized outstanding individuals and families who have made exceptional contributions to agriculture in Laurens County.

Here is the list of the 2023 winners:

  • Laurens County Agriculturalist of the Year: Eddie Alexander
  • Laurens County Farm Family of the Year: Jim and Susan Curry
  • Laurens County Special Commodity Producer: The Patch, Braden and Mary Grace Iusti
  • Laurens County Outstanding Horticulturalist of the Year: Jody Prosser
  • Laurens County Outstanding Dairyman of the Year: Will-Do Jerseys, Amber Ettinger
  • Laurens County Outstanding Broiler Producer of the Year (smaller broilers): Rob Roper IV
  • Laurens County Outstanding Broiler Producer of the Year (Larger broilers): Tim Faulkner
  • Laurens County Outstanding Cattleman of the Year: Dusty Dyal
  • Laurens County Woodlands Manager of the Year: James Fleming
  • Laurens County Lifetime Achievement Award: George Copeland
  • Laurens County Clemson Extension Advisory Council Scholarship Winner: Hannah Nelson
  • Clinton High School Outstanding FFA Member of the Year: Hannah Nelson
  • Laurens District High School Outstanding FFA Member of the Year: Victoria Wood
  • Outstanding Laurens County 4-H Junior Candidate: Novah Wood, Zora Hartmann, Shelby Birkenstock
  • Outstanding Laurens County 4-H Senior Candidate: Morgan Means, Allison Jewell

Each award recipient exemplifies the dedication and passion that drive the agricultural community forward.

As Laurens County continues to evolve, its agricultural heritage remains a cornerstone of its identity. The Laurens County Spotlight on Agriculture event honors the past and also looks toward a future where farming continues to thrive and flourish.

In the words of Bryan Smith, “With such a large percentage of Laurens County dedicated to farming and agriculture, all who engage in this life-sustaining business are to be commended.”

Indeed, the success of this annual event underscores the unwavering commitment of Laurens County to its agricultural roots, ensuring a bright and prosperous future for generations to come.

Click on the images in the photo gallery to see the winners and more.