Keith Belli, dean of the Clemson University College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS), bestowed the college’s 2021 Outstanding Professional Staff Award to Sarah Wilbanks.
“Sarah represents Regulatory Services in South Carolina as the manager of the Seed Certification Program as well as the Fertilizer Regulatory Program. She sits on many state and national boards and develops innovative new programs,” Belli said in making the award.
“Most recently, in 2020, she partnered with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Clemson University Extension to launch a certified solar pollinator program, the first of its kind.”
Wilbanks earned her undergraduate degree fro Clemson in agricultural education and a master’s degree in agricultural leadership from the University of Georgia. She returned to her undergraduate alma mater to earn a Ph.D. in animal science.
Beginning in 2019 she was named the President’s Leadership Institute at Clemson. The prestigious nine-month leadership development program annually selects 25 faculty and staff and exposes them to all aspects of the university’s operations, presents them opportunities to interact with senior leaders and allows them to participate in activities designed to build leadership skills, broaden their perspectives, create networks and prepare them to pursue additional roles at Clemson.
“The people she works with have this to say about Sarah: Sarah exemplifies what it means to be a Clemson Tiger. She has a love for South Carolina agriculture and has made it her mission to enhance it. And that she has, through her work at Regulatory Services,” Belli said. “She knows what an impact her programs make on our food and animal producers. She constantly updates her programs, through the use of new technologies, laws and regulations, or procedures.”
The Certified Solar Pollinator Habitat program she established is a collaborative effort between the Department of Fertilizer Regulation and Certification Services, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Clemson University Extension Service and Audubon South Carolina. The program provides a framework to encourage the planting and maintenance of pollinator habitats at solar farms.
The program offers training for environmental consultants, utilities, solar developers and landowners. Led by Clemson Extension, the training will focus mainly on how to establish pollinator plant species and manage them within the challenging environment of a solar farm.