Tony Melton Receives Order of the Palmetto

This week, long time Clemson Extension Agent Tony Melton was presented the state’s highest civilian honor for his unrivaled service to the citizens and farming community of South Carolina. Senator Kent Williams presented the Order of The Palmetto at a small ceremony in Florence on Wednesday attended by family, close friends, and a few of the farmers Tony has devoted his life to serving.

During the ceremony, Tony was repeatedly described as a role model, hard-working, and, most of all, humble. “This [award] is one deserved. This is not given. This is earned the old-fashioned way.” said Sen. Williams.

Tony Melton was presented the Order of The Palmetto by Sen. Kent Williams. Tony is joined here by his wife Mitzi and Clemson Extension Director Tom Dobbins. Photo from Jonathan Windham.

After a 40-year carrer with Clemson Extension, Tony retired earlier this summer to focus on his health. In addition to his work with fruit and vegetable farmers in the Pee Dee, Tony was a frequent guest on SCETV’s Making It Grow and was well respected in the community for his home gardening expertise.

Tony and Mitzi are flanked by just a few of the farmers that have been impacted by Tony’s life-long dedication and hard work. Photo from Jonathan Windham.

In September, a garden was established at the entrance of the Pee Dee Research and Education Center (REC) in honor of Tony.

Tony Melton Retires After Long Career with Clemson

Long-time Horticulture Agent Tony Melton retired earlier this month, finishing out a 40-year career with Clemson University. Tony is best known for his passion for working with fruit and vegetable growers in the Pee Dee Region, as well as his frequent appearances on SCETV’s Making It Grow.

Tony first began his career with Clemson University in 1980 in the Horticulture Department before earning his Master’s degree in Horticulture and becoming an Extension Agent in 1989. He attributes his passion for horticulture to the time he spent working with the McLeod family of McBee, SC in his teens. To honor his dedication, the McLeods later created and funded a Clemson University scholarship in Tony’s name.

In addition to his work with the farming community, Tony worked closely with the Master Gardeners in the Pee Dee and wrote weekly articles for the Florence Morning News. He was also involved in fruit and vegetable research, managing 20 acres of research plots at the Pee Dee Research and Educations Center in Darlington. As part of this work, Tony was recently awarded a Specialty Crop Block Grant to develop heat tolerant butter beans.

Throughout his career, Tony has earned numerous awards including the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Clemson Alumni Association, the County Agent of the Year from the SC Beekeeper Association, and the Distinguished Service Award from the SC Association of County Agricultural Agents.

Tony is well respected by his peers and is known for his love of work and staying busy. He’s even been known to show up on farms before the sun comes up. His kind-hearted personality and vast knowledge will be greatly missed as we all wish Tony well in this next chapter. Thanks for everything you’ve done and the impact you’ve made, Tony!