28 Jan

Writing for the Daily Athenaeum, Kendall Snee offers a construction update on the new Agricultural Sciences Building:

“It will harbor a great learning atmosphere for those students going into the agricultural professions. A new agricultural building has been needed for quite some time now,” said Nathaniel Bruce, a senior environmental and natural resources economics student.

Click here to read the article.

22 Dec

2015 Garden Calendars are available

David | December 22nd, 2014
2015 Garden Calendar

Ensure a healthier harvest with the help of a perennial favorite—the 2015 West Virginia University Extension Service Garden Calendar—available at local WVU Extension Service County Offices beginning the week of Dec. 22. – See more at:

15 Dec

The West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design will build on its foundation as an innovation hub with the support of a $157,000 grant from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and $100,000 from Farm Credit.

The combination of private and public funds will enable the creation of the WVU Davis College Young Innovators Fellowship Program, which will provide students motivated to bring innovation and entrepreneurship to rural environments and communities the skills to do so. The program will accept students from any of the College’s academic programs, from agriculture to housing and all forms of business and technology development.

Advancing the ways and means for WVU graduates to more quickly and successfully contribute to the region’s economic development is the goal. Measuring the success of graduates this way is a new approach.

“Enhancing and sustaining the rural economy of West Virginia is vitally important to the state, and there’s a clear need for innovation and entrepreneurship to support that,” said Dan Robison, dean of the Davis College. “Through the Young Innovators Fellowship Program, we’ll be able to build an even more fertile entrepreneurial environment among students, faculty, farmers, rural business and technology developers, and others who have a stake in these critical issues.”

The program will also provide a think-tank atmosphere, allowing students to interact with many organizations and governmental agencies that are focused on sustainable agriculture and rural development in the state, as well as potential funders for future entrepreneurial activities.

The program will include internships, provide service opportunities for undergraduate students to give back to the state and develop networking and mentoring opportunities.

– See more at:

8 Dec

Writing for The Daily Athenaeum, Jennifer Skinner introduces the finalists for the 2014-15 WV Collegiate Business Plan Competition, including horticulture major Jordon Masters:

“I have spent my whole life on a family farm, and I could not see myself doing anything else than providing food for people. Being involved with a business that is involved in its community is the personal connection I receive,” Masters said. “I hope to be able to meet the needs of my community and that small scale farming can once again have a large impact on the agriculture world.”

See the full list of finalists here.

19 Nov

Horticulture students cultivate poinsettias

David | November 19th, 2014
Caroline Hooks and Sarah Alexandropoulos

The WVU Horticulture Club will be selling poinsettias at the Evansdale Greenhouse starting Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Plants will be priced at $8 and range in color from red to white, pink and marble. Hours of the sale will be 2-6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday Nov. 20 and 21, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22.

The 500 poinsettias were grown by two Davis College horticulture students, Caroline Hooks and Sarah Alexandropoulos, as an independent study project.

“My hope is to work for a large production greenhouse operation such as Metrolina Greenhouses or Bob’s Market, so I was really interested in getting experience growing a crop on a larger scale and then sell it to the community,” said Alexandropoulos, of Weirton, W.Va.

“I think this was a good choice for an independent study, because growing poinsettias is practically required for greenhouses to have cash flow at this time of year,” said Hooks, of Bridgeport, W.Va. “It’s the highest-selling potted plant in the United States.”

This is Alexandropoulos’s first experience cultivating poinsettias, but she has firm opinions on the plant.

“I really like the traditional red poinsettias because they are what I think of when I think of Christmas time,” Alexandropoulos said. “The marble ones are pretty neat, though!”

Hooks has seen poinsettia cultivation during an internship at Metrolina, but she’s never worked with them first-hand.

Her favorite? “I like the marble white one we have in the greenhouse right now, but there are about 120 varieties of poinsettias, so it can be hard to choose.”

7 Nov

WVU seminar serves up "Drinking Water"

David | November 7th, 2014
Salzman_resize A legal scholar will discuss the complex issues surrounding the water we drink during a seminar at West Virginia University.

James Salzman, of Duke University will present “Drinking Water: The Past, Present, and Future” at 6 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 11, in the College of Law Event Hall.

Salzman is the Samuel F. Mordecai Professor of Law and the Nicholas Institute Professor of Environmental Policy. He has written extensively on trade and environment conflicts, drinking water, environmental protection in the service economy, wetlands mitigation banking, and the legal and institutional issues in creating markets for ecosystem services.

In 2012, he published Drinking Water: A History. In it, Salzman shows how drinking water highlights the most pressing issues of our time, from globalization and social justice to terrorism and climate change, and how humans have been wrestling with these problems for centuries.

His lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development in WVU’s College of Law and the Environmental Research Center in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. It is part of the Environmental Research Center’s annual seminar series.

The seminar is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Jim Anderson at 304-293-3825 or

22 Oct

WVU to host 100-Mile Meal

David | October 22nd, 2014

For a family of four, eating local is as simple as a trip to the farmer’s market. But what does it take for a family of 1,000 to eat local?

West Virginia University will host its first 100-Mile Meal at the Cafe Evansdale dining hall on Thursday (Oct. 23) with all major menu ingredients sourced from a 100 mile radius of the Evansdale campus. The evening will be the culmination of months of planning by WVU Dining Services, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, WVU Extension Service, the College of Business and Economics, and dozens of local farmers.

The 100 Mile-Meal Challenge concept was developed to teach diners about the process of getting food from the farm to the table. While markets, restaurants, and grocery stores are all options for farmers looking to sell their crops, the WVU 100 Mile Dinner is an experiment to add collegiate dining to the list of potential buyers. The result could be a business partnership that benefits the local farming economy while reducing the environmental impact of long-range product shipping.

“The 100 Mile Meal Challenge is just a beginning that we hope will lead every school in the state of West Virginia to actively support sustainable, resilient and healthy food and water systems” said Megan Govindan, director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and teaching associate professor of human nutrition and foods. “The participants in the challenge are educating and promoting access to fresh, local and real food throughout their school or university. In West Virginia 45 of 55 counties are serving local foods in their cafeterias.”

– See more at:

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.