Sam Talley always knew he wanted to be a cowboy. A native of Easley, South Carolina, he grew up around livestock and took an interest in working with beef cattle at a young age. Now, he is one of the most recent graduates of the University’s animal and veterinary sciences program, and he is preparing to move out West to pursue the next phase of his career.
As a son of two Clemson graduates, Talley says he didn’t consider other schools as an option for attending college. Growing up and visiting campus with his family, Clemson always felt like the perfect place to be, he recalls. So, when it came time to seriously think about earning his degree, he knew where to look.
But before Talley could finalize his decision, he recalls, his parents had a serious talk with him about finances: They wanted him to be as financially independent as possible. So, Talley applied for and earned various industry-specific scholarships and academic scholarships from the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. Without those dollars, he says, he would not have been able to attend Clemson.
Although Talley never doubted that he wanted to study animal science, his Clemson experiences are what solidified his dream of working with cattle.
Talley interned with the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service through the University Professional Internship and Co-op (UPIC) program for the past two years. While he was not working directly with cows, the industry knowledge he gained from his mentors, livestock specialists Brian Bolt and Steven Meadows, proved to be an invaluable experience.
“Working with them made me a better cattleman,” Talley says. “They provided for me a bigger picture of the agriculture industry from both a business and a scientific standpoint.”
During his time at Clemson, Talley also became involved in the University’s historic Block and Bridle Club and served as the vice president last year. Amidst fears of the club folding due to decreased membership because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and other club officers were able to revive the organization and grow membership from 10 to 50 active members. From planning fundraisers to helping with cow sales and livestock shows, Talley says he feels proud to have been a part of the club’s flourishing agricultural community.
Through his various experiences, Talley has learned that the Clemson Experience is as much about the people as it is about the cattle. His love for cows has never waned, but even more than he loves his cattle, Sam loves the people in the agriculture industry.
In January 2023, Talley plans to move to Wyoming to work on a ranch before beginning a master’s program in animal science in Fall 2023, studying beef cattle nutrition. He hopes to serve the farming industry, in part, by continuing to research how it can feed an increasing human population with decreasing agricultural resources. His work advancing cattle nutrition seeks to provide answers.
As he prepares to graduate and pursue future endeavors, Talley says he has been shaped by his friends, mentors and professors at Clemson; they helped him build industry knowledge, grew his character and instilled an even greater passion in him for his chosen field.
“I will carry the knowledge and experiences with me forever,” Talley says. “They have made me a better cattleman. Using these influences, I hope to leave the industry better than when I found it.”