College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Four Extension agents honored on 10-year anniversary of Lever Hall of Fame


A ceremony recognizing four new inductees for multiple decades of notable service marked the 10-year anniversary of Clemson’s A. Frank Lever Extension Agent Hall of Fame.

The 2024 Class of the Lever Hall of Fame includes former Clemson Extension Agents Judy Brock, Daniel “Danny” Howard, Juanita Neely and Russell Roberts, and they developed and disseminated educational programming in the areas of agriculture, health and nutrition and youth development to South Carolina citizens during their careers.

Clemson’s Lever Hall of Fame was created in 2014 to celebrate the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. The Act was authored by Rep. Frank Lever of South Carolina, along with Sen. Hoke Smith of Georgia, to establish Cooperative Extension Services at universities throughout the country and facilitate the delivery of research-based agricultural and food science knowledge to the working people.

The Lever Hall of Fame honors the careers of “longtime, front-line county agents” for superior contributions and outstanding leadership in promoting the Extension mission in their home community and throughout South Carolina.

During the induction ceremony last weekend, Frank Lever III shared a story about a past hunting trip to North Dakota. The farmer hosting the hunt told Lever he knew his grandfather was responsible for the Smith-Lever Act.

“You never know the impact of this man until you really get out and talk to the people,” said Lever. “My grandfather said that although the word education does not appear in the Smith-Lever Act, Extension work is the greatest education movement in his generation and generations to come.”

Thomas Dobbins, director of Clemson Cooperative Extension, said the honored agents are examples of what Lever’s vision meant, as he wanted to transform the country by having universities openly share information with the people in their states. Clemson University was already at the forefront.

Not many people understand that Clemson had the Extension Service that created a national model through Mr. Lever.


Cooperative Extension is part of Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, the core of the University’s land-grant heritage.

“Teaching, research and Extension are the three pillars of the national land-grant university system,” said Greg Yarrow, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Science interim dean. “The expertise of our Extension agents is enhanced by research from our College and is linked to the needs of our state’s citizens, which include their well-being, the economy and the environment.”


Judy Brock started as an associate home economist with EFNEP for Sumter and Kershaw Counties in 1972. Over time, she moved between agent and county leadership positions, and when 30 years of service came to a close, she held the role of county Extension director. In her expansive nutrition and food safety roles, Brock developed training programs for EFNEP team members and Master Food Preservers, taught at 4-H EFNEP summer camps and served as an advisor and public policy trainer to community associations. She coordinated the Palmetto Leadership program for several years after a pilot program was started in Kershaw County. The funding Brock appropriated and leveraged for Extension was significant enough to establish a foundation account. The counties she served between 1972 and 1993 included Sumter, Kershaw, Lee and Fairfield.

“It was the brightest job that anyone could ever have, and the memories are just unbelievable,” said Brock. “When I started this journey over 54 years ago, I had no idea where it would lead me.”

Daniel “Danny” Howard joined Clemson as a county Extension director in 1985 and had previously worked in Extension Services at the University of Georgia and Auburn University. Over his 33 years of service with Clemson, he served counties in the Upstate and Lowcountry, delivering agricultural, natural resources and livestock and foraging programming and helped develop mentoring resources for new agents. Howard is credited with co-developing various certification programs for natural resources, including Upstate Master Naturalist, Master Tree, and Master Wildlife. The counties he served between 1985 and 2018 included Colleton, Beaufort, Jasper, Greenville, Spartanburg, Union and Cherokee.

“If you watched Mr. Danny Howard be a county agent, that’s what it looks like to be a good one,” said Brian Bolt, Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department Livestock Specialist.

Juanita Neely started her Extension career as the Lancaster County home demonstration agent in 1918 and later became a field training agent. A few years later, she became one of the few women to serve as the state Extension poultry specialist and was dedicated to creating a sound home poultry program for rural South Carolina families. She also helped increase poultry exhibits at the State Fair through 4-H poultry clubs and home flock owners. Neely went on to serve in district and state roles for home demonstration until her retirement in 1957. The Progressive Farmer magazine named her a “Woman of the Year” in 1952 due to her efforts to increase the number of home demonstration agents for rural areas. South Carolina Governor James Byrnes awarded her the Distinguished Service Award in 1957, and in 1958, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Employees Association. The counties she served between 1918 and 1958 included Lancaster and York.

 “I wish that I had seen what my brother wrote when he nominated Juanita,” said Margaret Senn Palmer, Neely’s cousin. “Because I didn’t know all those things.”

Russel Roberts became an assistant county agent in Anderson in 1966. He served the Anderson County 4-H Youth Development program for the duration of his career from 1966 to 1993 while building one of the top 4-H Youth Development programs in South Carolina and achieving national recognition. Roberts helped establish the 4-H Heifer Dairy Project and achieved the highest number of 4-Hers from one county in the first year. He built a strong record book program that 4-Hers benefitted greatly from and subsequently achieved high numbers of 4-Hers who received state awards. He received ongoing recognition from 4-H parents, accepted numerous 4-H Agent of the Year and Camp Director awards and grew partnerships with local businesses in support of 4-H Youth Development efforts. Tom Garrison spoke about his memories as a 4-H member under Roberts’ leadership and becoming the first National 4-H Dairy Record Book Winner from South Carolina. He said he was filling out his record book for submittal to the national competition and turned to Roberts for help responding to a question about what he had learned in 4-H that would leave a lasting impression.

“And he thought for a minute — and this is something that stood with me for all these years,” said Garrison. “And Mr. Roberts said, ‘Well, you know, I believe what you’ve learned is the ability to make decisions.’”

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