17 Oct

Soils Team qualifies for nationals

David | October 17th, 2014
Soils Team 2014 Regionals

A second-place finish in regional competition has qualified the West Virginia University Soils Team for the National Collegiate Soils Contest next spring.

Ten students from WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design traveled to Clemson, South Carolina, Oct. 6-9 to compete in the 2014 Southeast Regional Collegiate Soils Contest. WVU’s team members were among 71 students representing 11 schools digging into the red clay dirt of the southern Piedmont landscapes.

“After three days of practice, the team members were prepared for the unfamiliar soils and were able to calibrate their judging skills to the local conditions,” said James Thompson, a professor of soils and land use in the Davis College and the team’s coach.

The students who traveled with the team were: David Ackley, a junior in agribusiness management and rural development from Edon, Ohio; Ellie Bell, a senior in soil science from Snowshoe; Riley Biddle, a junior in agronomy from Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.; Caleb Griffin, a senior in agroecology from Friendsville, Maryland; Jimmy Leonard, a sophomore in argoecology from Middletown, Middletown; Emily Lessman, a sophomore in soil science from Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.; Adrienne Nottingham, a senior in soil science from Green Bank; Katie Stegemerten, a senior in multidisciplinary studies from Annapolis, Maryland.; Becca Swope, a senior in agricultural and extension education from Salem, Ohio; and Emily Wells, a senior in agribusiness management and rural development from Sistersville.

When the results were tallied, six WVU students placed in the top 25. Nottingham finished second, Griffin seventh, Swope 11th, Stegemerten 12th, Lessman 21st and Bell 23rd.

This strong individual showing propelled WVU to a second-place finish in the team competition. This is fifth time in the last six years that WVU has placed in the top three in the region, including two regional championships in 2009 and 2013.

The team will now begin to prepare for the National Collegiate Soils Contest, which will be held in the spring and will be hosted by the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

“As always, I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of all of these students,” Thompson said. “These students continue to build upon the past success of the WVU Soils Team, and students and faculty from other schools are noticing these students’ achievements.

“I believe this speaks to the quality of the training that these students receive from WVU’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences,” Thompson said. “It also reflects the overall strength of the academic programs across the Davis College.”

7 Oct

A university on the rise

David | October 7th, 2014
Gordon Gee at 2014 State of the University

After 10 months back on the job, West Virginia University President Gordon Gee believes it’s time to put “strategic planning into strategic action.”

In his first State of the University address on the Morgantown campus in some 30 years, Gee unveiled “big” ideas to propel WVU and its partners forward as one cohesive academic and economic force.

He announced the creation of a Center for Big Ideas, which will be led by former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton. The Center will bring together faculty, staff and students to tackle issues, such as energy, rural health, STEM education and arts and culture, that relate to West Virginia and the country.

“I cannot think of anyone who has a better grasp of our state and the ways in which higher education empowers lives,” Gee said about Caperton, who also was president of the College Board, which administered the nationally recognized SAT and AP tests.

Gee delivered the remarks, outlining the University’s goals and challenges for the next year, on Monday (Oct. 6) to the Faculty Assembly before its regular monthly meeting.

– See more at:

6 Oct

Extension to offer food business workshops

David | October 6th, 2014

Get a recipe for success in the food industry from West Virginia University Extension Service. Business and food safety experts from across the state will offer advice through two, day-long Food for Profit workshops in Belington and Charleston.

“We want to teach people to maximize their profits and successfully operate a business,” said Litha Sivanandan, WVU Extension food safety and preservation specialist. “This workshop prepares participants for the hurdles, legal and otherwise, that new and potential business owners face.”

Topics include everything from developing a business plan and applying for loans, to determining prices, registering trademarks and buying insurance. Certifications, inspections, labeling requirements, responding to emergencies and marketing will also be covered.

The Charleston session takes place at the Kanawha County office of the WVU Extension Service in Kanawha City on Nov. 19.

The Belington workshop takes place at the Belington Fire Hall on Nov. 20.

The sessions are geared toward business owners, producers, farmers, micro- and home-based businesses, farmers’ market vendors and restaurateurs.

The cost of the course is $30, and participants can register for the Belington session by contacting the Barbour County Office of the WVU Extension Service at 304-457-3254. To register for the Charleston session, contact the Kanawha County WVU Extension Service at 304-720-9573.

The deadline to register is Nov. 14. The program is sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Project.

1 Oct

A recent gift by a West Virginia University alumnus will provide assistance to students for years to come.

A graduate of WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design has made the WVU Foundation a beneficiary of his retirement account. The current value of the gift is approximately $85,000. When the funds are received, they will be used to provide scholarships for qualified students.

“I worry about the affordability of a college education,” said the alumnus, who prefers to remain anonymous. “With government cuts to education and costs of living going up, it becomes very difficult for students, especially when you factor in the cost of associated expenses like textbooks.”

The graduate’s estate gift will provide scholarships for students pursuing programs in animal science, pre-veterinary medicine, plant and soil science, agricultural and extension education, forest management, wildlife and fisheries resources, wood science, and environmental protection, with first preference given to students who are members of Alpha Gamma Rho, the fraternity for students in agriculture, forestry and related disciplines.

While the alumnus knows circumstances may change over time with regards to the size of his gift, he’s a firm believer in the value of estate planning. “When the time comes, if I’m able to leave this to the Foundation, it’s done.”

“Many don’t think about extending their lifetime giving through support in their estate plan, but this is a very worthwhile option, as this alum’s gift shows,” said Deborah Miller, senior director of planned giving with the WVU Foundation.

“The choices for helping the Davis College in this way are extensive, and each gift accomplishes something that couldn’t happen otherwise,” Miller added. “We appreciate so much that giving through your will or retirement account after you’re gone can enhance the Davis College’s future for generations to come.”

The gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

10 Sep

Family Day at the Farm set for Sept. 27

David | September 10th, 2014

From furry and feathered critters to the fruits of our forests and facts about food, West Virginia University will have something fun and fascinating for all ages during Family Day at the Farm Saturday, Sept. 27.

Sponsored by the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and WVU Extension Service, the event will feature a wide range of hands-on activities and exhibits from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Animal Sciences Farm on Stewartstown Road.

Activities will cover everything from the skills of service dogs, to sheep shearing demonstrations, the science of popcorn and examples of West Virginia’s natural history.
In addition, tasty, healthy snacks will be served throughout the event.

All students, parents, faculty, staff, and members of the Morgantown community and beyond are welcome to attend. For more information, visit: Persons with disabilities may request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services at 304-293-6700.

While limited parking is available at the Animal Sciences Farm, attendees are encouraged to take advantage of free, regular shuttle service from Area 81 located near the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and Mountaineer Station across the street from Applebee’s on Van Voorhis Road. For more information on transportation, parking, and to register, please visit the Family Day at the Farm site at

26 Aug

Business Plan Competition expands reach

David | August 26th, 2014

The opportunity to start a business in West Virginia is now more accessible to college students than ever before.

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition, now in its ninth year, has always been open to all full-time students at any of West Virginia’s 19 four-year higher education institutions. But this year, the competition also welcomes full-time community and technical college students from any of West Virginia’s nine degree-granting institutions.

“With the success we’re having, we decided it was appropriate to include the community and technical schools to expand participation, and also because we believe they will have very good ideas and concepts about business opportunities,” said Steven Cutright, director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. WVU’s business school is the host of the annual competition that runs throughout the academic year.

In addition to expanding the playing field, there is also a new incentive to enter the 2014-15 competition. Each participating institution will be guaranteed to have at least one team advance to the semi-finals of the competition, held in November. This year, that guarantee includes only past competition participants from the four-year colleges.

– See more at:

21 Aug

Hot off the press!

David | August 21st, 2014

The Summer 2014 issue of Davis Magazine is available to read online! If you’d like to join our mailing list, please sign up through Mountaineer Connection.

12 Aug

Greenhouse grows love of horticulture

David | August 12th, 2014
4 Aug

Campaign Chronicles

David | August 4th, 2014

The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design is currently undergoing an exciting period of growth and expansion, aided in part by the generosity of alumni and friends. From increases in program offerings and a reorganization of its academic structure, to the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Agricultural Sciences Building, West Virginia University’s oldest academic unit has become a cornerstone for positive transformation on the Evansdale campus.

Click here for more details.

23 Jul

WVU Organic Farm to host field day Aug. 7

Lindsay | July 23rd, 2014

West Virginia University’s Organic Research Farm is a living laboratory. From teaching to outreach, the farm links scientific discovery with applications supporting an increasing number of organic growers and gardeners.

The farm will be open to the public from 1 – 7 p.m. on Aug. 7 for its annual field day.

Hosted by the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and WVU Extension Service, the event introduces new research and highlights ongoing projects in organic production methods through intensive workshops and organized or self-guided tours of the farm, one of the largest certified organic research farms in the nation.

“The needs of organic growers are constantly evolving, and our research helps address the new opportunities and emerging problems they face,” said Jim Kotcon, associate professor of plant pathology. “We enjoy putting together this event every year and hope participants benefit from our efforts.”

Workshops led by WVU faculty and graduate students will provide overviews of plant disease identification and control, monitoring and managing squash vine borers, no-till vegetable production, internal parasite control in sheep and a summary of accomplishments in organic production.

As an invited speaker, Kristine Nichols, research program director at the Rodale Institute, a leading sustainable and organic agriculture research and education organization, will discuss soil health in organic systems.

The event will also include a walking tour of research and demonstration plots emphasizing market garden and site management practices for producers of horticultural crops.

Gates open at 12:45 p.m. with workshops beginning at 1:15 p.m. Guided tours begin at 4 p.m. Dinner featuring organic produce grown on the farm will be served at 6 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is appreciated.

To register, e-mail or contact Tessy Warnick at 304-293-2961.