Commissioners, staff and partners of the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (RSWCD) bid farewell to a longtime RSWCD commissioner earlier this week, as his successor was sworn into office.
During the RSWCD board’s regular meeting Monday, Jan. 9, Tim McSwain officially took the seat formerly held by Hemphill Pride III. Pride, who has served as one of RSWCD’s three elected commissioners since 2003, was recognized for his time on the commission Monday.
“I’ve always been a nature person, an outdoor person,” Pride said, recalling how his interest in conservation began in childhood. “I was hunting at an early age, and I remember playing in the stream as a kid and noticing the water change colors after a rain, not realizing at the time it was due to runoff.”
After graduating from A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, Pride attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving a bachelor’s in political science.
Pride said his greatest joy serving as an RSWCD commissioner was “meeting new people with the same concerns about natural resources as me, and working with them to accomplish a common goal: improving quality of life in our region.” He said he hopes RSWCD continues to grow as it pursues its mission to promote the wise use and care of natural resources.
McSwain Joins Board
After Pride chose not to run for re-election in 2022, McSwain, who since 2020 has served as an RSWCD associate commissioner – a non-voting advisory role – won his seat as a write-in candidate.
“Serving as an associate commissioner has been a great learning experience for me,” McSwain said. “I have been able to observe our dedicated commissioners and participate with them in planning (RSWCD’s) programs and maintaining relationships with our partners. The dedication and time that each commissioner puts into their responsibilities is a testament to their belief in the importance to conservation.”
McSwain is a University of South Carolina graduate and is retired from Wells Fargo in the bank’s information technology division. He and his wife, Mary Beth, live in the Blythewood area and own agricultural property in Richland, Fairfield, and McCormick counties, which they manage for timber production, recreation, conservation and wildlife management.
In addition to his involvement with RSWCD, McSwain is president of the S.C. Farmer and Agribusiness Association (SCFAA), Blackstock Chapter SCFAA president, Fairfield Electric Cooperative Roundup board secretary, and Capital City Corvette Club member. He recently retired from the Richland County Conservation Commission.
McSwain joins commissioners Jim Rhodes, who won re-election in 2022, and Mary Burts, who was elected in 2020, on the RSWCD board, along with appointed commissioners Jeff Laney and Kenny Mullis.
In South Carolina, state law created conservation districts in 1937 for the purpose of managing natural resources and assisting landowners with conservation concerns. The state’s conservation district boundaries conform to county boundaries, and a five-member board of commissioners manages each of the state’s 46 conservation districts. Three commissioners in each district are chosen in the general election; the S.C. Department of Natural Resources board appoints two other commissioners.
RSWCD promotes the wise use and care of natural resources for long-term sustainability. Richland County supports RSWCD’s work with staff and other resources. To learn more about RSWCD’s mission and programs, visit www.richlandcountysc.gov/rswcd.