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November 9, 2010
Aaron Wood has agriculture in his blood. The McCormick County native grew up amidst the family’s beef cattle and timber operation. So, it was no surprise that he would enter an agriculture field, which has led him to the horticulture program at Piedmont Technical College.
Wood earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University. While in grad school, he taught as an assistant in the biology department, and stayed on as an adjunct instructor for one year before moving on to the Department of Agriculture where he spent nearly six years.
“I really enjoyed my job with the Department of Agriculture, but I just saw there was a lot of opportunity here,” Wood said. “I really believe in the technical college system, the education that folks get with the hands-on experience. I think that’s so valuable.”
Wood hopes to draw on his connections through the Department of Agriculture and Clemson University to provide a network of people to benefit the students and expose them to professionals in the business.
“Horticulture and the greenhouse industry are among the top agriculture cash crops in the state,” said Wood. “I think that network will be very beneficial to our students.”
Wood has several long-term goals in mind for the program, many dealing with the new diversified agriculture program at the Saluda County Center and the existing articulation agreements Piedmont Tech has with Clemson.
“Hugh Bland, PTC’s agriculture coordinator, and I have been working closely with Clemson to better serve students who want to continue their education,” he said. “With the addition of the diversified agriculture program, we want to expand the existing agreements and provide students with even more options.”
Improving the current facilities and upgrading the existing equipment are at the top of Wood’s priority list. He is also looking to strengthen the partnerships between the horticulture program and the new diversified agriculture program.
“We want to bring these programs closer together in order to allow more interchange between the two programs,” Woods said. “We want to have as much flexibility as possible with students because we ultimately want to make sure each graduate is prepared for what they choose to do.”
Wood says he knows that there will be challenges, but he is excited to be involved with the program.
“I want to recruit and retain good students; introduce these students to producers, professionals and business owners in the industry they will be working with one day; and give them the knowledge and hands-on experience to be successful in whatever they choose to do when they leave here,” said Wood.