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John De La Howe School for Agriculture to Open Next Year


Commissioner Weathers and Assistant Commissioners Aaron Wood and Clint Leach visited the school in October. Photo courtesy John De La Howe. All other photos by Leonard Billie Photography.

A New Future for Ag Education in SC

John De La Howe School for Agriculture to Open Next Year

By Hannah Arndt

 This story appears in the Nov. 21, 2019 issue of the South Carolina Market Bulletin.

A South Carolina property is returning to its roots as the John de la Howe School for Agriculture prepares to welcome a class of 80 agriculture students in August of 2020.

Located in McCormick, South Carolina, John de la Howe is one of the oldest learning facilities in the state, having opened its doors in 1797, just nine years after South Carolina’s incorporation as a state. The school operated as a working farm for state orphans from its inception until the 1990s, when it transitioned into an alternative school for troubled youth. After a state-conducted feasibility study on the effectiveness of agriculture-focused schools in South Carolina and a change in administration, John de la Howe was given the green light to begin rebranding as a pre-university experience for 10th and 11th graders interested in pursuing agriculture.

“Our goal is to have the best high school experience available in South Carolina for ag-minded students,” said Tim Keown, director of the Education Center at John de la Howe.

While all general education courses will be ag-focused, there will also be three main agriculture education pathways for students to take: Plant and Animal Sciences, Environmental and Natural Resources with a heavy emphasis on forestry management, and Horticulture. Students will receive hands-on training in their chosen field, utilizing the 1,310 acres of forests and farmland, greenhouse operation and working farm composed of Polled Herefords, Yorkshire hogs, goats, and horses, available on John de la Howe’s campus. Students will even be able to participate in the production and sale of agricultural goods.

“Our mission is for the school to be a ‘little brother’ to Clemson University and South Carolina State University,” Keown added.

John de la Howe School for Agriculture is the first statewide program of its kind in the nation. Under the direction of Interim President Sharon Wall, the school has undergone dramatic changes, from renovating campus buildings and dorms to implementing new technology. The end goal is to one day host over 300 students, including out-of-state students, and be added to the prestigious list of governor’s schools in the state.

The school will accept both residential and day students who will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in all school activities, farm responsibilities, and events. Residential students will live in on-campus housing while day students will attend school during the week and return to their homes at the end of each school day. Eligibility requirements and applications can be found online at Applications are open to current rising high school sophomores and juniors in South Carolina and are due by February 13, 2020.

“We want students from all 46 counties to be represented, all the way from Jasper to Greenville,” Keown says.

If you are interested in having a John de la Howe representative speak to students in your county, or in touring the campus, please contact Tim Keown, For more information, please visit

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