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

Upstate agent takes lead of South Carolina 4-H natural resource programs


After working with natural resources and educating young people in the Upstate for more than a decade, Patricia Whitener is taking her expertise in both those areas into a role focused on the entire state of South Carolina.

Whitener, who has served as Greenville County 4-H agent for the past 8 years and got her start with Clemson Cooperative Extension in 2012 as a 4-H Jr. Naturalist Club volunteer coordinator, began in January as 4-H Natural Resources Program Leader.

“What drives me, my purpose, is to educate, connect and inspire youth and the professionals that serve youth with nature and the appreciation for our natural resources,” Whitener said. “This is very purpose-driven work for me, and I’m super excited.”

The youth development arm of the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service, South Carolina 4-H uses a learn-by-doing approach to help youth gain the knowledge and skills to be responsible, productive and contributing members of society. Nationally, 4-H employs a network of 500,000 volunteers and 3,500 professionals to provide caring and supportive mentoring to more than 6 million 4‑H’ers.

In the newly created role, Whitener will lead the state’s efforts in the 4-H Natural Resources program area, coordinating programming efforts, working with Clemson faculty and Extension agents, state and federal agencies, non-profits and private partners, as well as writing grants and helping to develop and maintain materials that are unbiased research content efforts for natural resource programs.


“My goal is trying to bring 4-H into the forefront as an environmental education hub,” she said. “We want to work with all the other amazing organizations that are doing environmental education and really fulfill Clemson’s land-grant mission of research-based, unbiased youth development in natural resources. We want to get that into the hands of the county agents, but also into the school system, and network and partner with non-profits and government agencies, such as S.C. Department of Natural Resources educators and environmental educators at state parks — we want to work with everybody.”

A native of Clemson, S.C., Whitener graduated from Clemson University with an undergraduate degree in Environmental and Natural Resources and earned her master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. She previously served as a field technician with the U.S. Forest Service, Youth Conservation Corps leader with the National Park Service and naturalist with Table Rock State Park and is pursuing a doctoral degree in Youth Development Leadership in Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social & Health Sciences.

“Patricia has been leading a dynamic and diverse youth development program in the most populous county in the state for the past 8 years,” South Carolina 4-H State Director Ashley Burns said. “Patricia holds many certifications in environmental education and is well published, and she is driven to educate, connect with and inspire others. We are thrilled to grow our team and benefit from her expertise.”

Whitener can be reached at 864-650-0991 or

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