5 Aug
Sheep at Organic Farm

Interest in where our food comes from and how it’s grown has never been higher. West Virginia University’s Organic Research Farm has a living laboratory that explores these issues and links scientific discovery with applications supporting an increasing number of organic growers and gardeners.

The farm will be open to the public from 12:15 – 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 13, for its 15th 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.

This year’s guest speaker is Tammy Jordan, president of Fruits of Labor, Inc., in Greenbrier County, W.Va. Jordan’s operation employs a multifaceted approach to organic production, including production and culinary processes in a sustainable agricultural model that inspires profitable, small-scale Appalachian farming opportunities.

The event will include workshops led by WVU students and faculty including topics on organic lamb production and health management, soil fertility and quality, organic pest management, and seed and cultivar evaluations. Walking tours of research and demonstration plots emphasizing market garden and site management practices for horticultural crops will be offered. Bring along a pair of binoculars to try and see the many species of birds that live on the farm, and fill in one of the checklists available to visitors.

The farm has employed five summer interns, with the support of a gift from Linda Butler, professor emerita of entomology. The interns have been instrumental in producing fruits and vegetables this summer, while also launching consumer supported agriculture taking on independent research into organic practices. The interns will be on-hand during the field day to answer questions about their projects.

The interns are: Daniel Almeida de Freitas, pursuing a graduate degree in agricultural sciences, from Minas Gerais, Brazil; Brian Fisher, an agribusiness management and rural development major from Nutley, N.J.; Coral Foster, an environmental protection major from McConnelsville, Ohio; Jake Kelly, a horticulture major from Beckley, W.Va.; and Jesse Poe, a horticulture major from Charleston, W.Va.

Gates open at 12:15 p.m. with workshops beginning at 1:15 p.m. Guided tours begin at 4 p.m. A lite 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.

21 Jul
adrienne Adrienne Nottingham isn’t afraid of getting her hands dirty. The West Virginia University student has proven it as a member of the Youth Conservation Corps and a nationally ranked member of the WVU Soils Team. In September, she’ll get a chance to prove it to the world.

Nottingham, a native of Green Bank, W.Va., will be the first Mountaineer to compete in the International Field Course and Soil Judging Contest Sept. 1-5 in Gdllő, Hungary.

Part of the celebrations of the International Year of Soils, the event is an opportunity for students and scholars to interact and experience the landscapes and soils of Hungary and the Danube Basin. Competitors will use their knowledge and practical skills to describe, understand and interpret soil characteristics in the field.

Nottingham has honed her judging skills during her time in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. Since earning her undergraduate degree in soil science in 2014, she’s been pursuing a master of science in agronomy. She placed third in the 2015 National Collegiate Soils Contest, qualifying her for the international tourney.

“I never would have had an opportunity like this if not for the WVU Soils Team and our coach, Dr. Jim Thompson,” Nottingham said.

Her interest in soil science began in high school, however, alongside another alumna of WVU’s soil science program.

“During my junior year, I was selected to work for the U.S. Forest Service’s Monongahela National Forest as part of the Youth Conservation Corps,” Nottingham said. “During this time, I had the opportunity to work the Monongahela’s forest soil scientist, Stephanie Connolly.” Connolly is a 1995 graduate of the Davis College and an award-winning soil scientist in her own right.

“That first day in the field with Ms. Connolly, we dug, sampled and described a soil pit. I was intrigued by the different soil horizons and their unique properties. I wondered what soil in other areas might look like. I remember telling my parents that I wanted to be a soil scientist,” Nottingham said.

– See more at:

9 Jul
thompson (00000002)

Building connections beyond the boundaries of campus, partnering with peer scholars to further inquiry and creating opportunities for students has led West Virginia University professor James Thompson has to receive the National Cooperative Soil Survey’s Cooperator Achievement Award.

Thompson, a professor of pedology and land use in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, was recognized by the Natural Resources Conservation Service at the organization’s recent meeting in Duluth, Minn.

“Jim is a tireless advocate for partnerships that advance soil science, conservation, education, and the National Cooperative Soil Survey,” said David Kingsbury, Soil Service Region 6 Director for the NRCS and a WVU alumnus. “Jim has promoted a strong partnership between West Virginia University, NRCS, and the US Forest Service that has resulted in many cooperative projects being undertaken.”

Thompson has built partnerships throughout West Virginia, across the U.S., and around the world with professionals in the fields of soil management and land use planning. He’s working for a better understanding of why soils vary from place to place and how to use this information to make better decisions.

– See more at:

23 Jun
Jordon Masters A childhood spent on a small farm in Greenbrier County gave Jordon Masters a grounding in agriculture, and horticulture in particular. That lifelong interest has led to the West Virginia University student earning a national scholarship from the Garden Club of America.

Masters, a fifth-generation farmer, earned the Katharine M. Grosscup Scholarship, created to encourage the study of horticulture and related fields and providing up to $3,500 annually. Masters will complete his B.S. in horticulture, take a semester off to further establish his business, and return to WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design to pursue a Ph.D.

That business, Allegheny Genesis, earned Masters a $10,000 prize in the Hospitality and Tourism category of this year’s West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition. His trajectory towards Allegheny Genesis – farm to table – is particularly fitting.

“I became interested in microgreens about three years ago while working in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant in Lewisburg,” Masters said. “I saw first-hand the power they had for raising awareness of alternate crops. There are so many varieties of microgreens that most people would never eat as a mature plant, for whatever reason, but because of the combination of art, flavor, texture, and nutritional values microgreens have, most consumers will eat them without any hesitation.”

– See more at:

28 Apr
Soils Team 2015

Mountaineers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. That’s especially true of the West Virginia University Soils Team, which took second-place honors at the 2015 National Collegiate Soils Contest.

Nine WVU students from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design competed against teams from 21 other schools from across the country. The University of Arkansas at Monticello hosted the 55th annual installment of the competition, offering some soggy conditions for students, who spent four days practicing for the two-day contest.

“The flood plains and terraces of the Mississippi Delta region are flat, especially compared to landscapes in West Virginia, and the soils are naturally wet because of the low relief,” said James Thompson, professor of soils and land use in the Davis College and coach of the team.

“With rainfall on already wet soils, we spent some time each day pumping and bailing water from the practice pits, but despite the mud, the team had an excellent week and performed well in the contest,” Thompson said.

Adrienne Nottingham, a senior in soil science from Green Bank, was the top individual finisher from WVU, placing third in a field of 86 competitors. Ellie Bell, a senior in soil science from Mingo, and Becca Swope, a senior in agricultural and extension education from Salem, Ohio, tied for 17th place.

Individual performance, combined with WVU’s eighth-place finish in the group judging, put WVU in second place overall. Nottingham’s ranking earned her the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the International Soil Judging Contest in Hungary in September 2015.

“This marks the seventh top-10 finish for WVU in the past ten years, and it’s WVU’s best finish since winning the national championship in 2006,” Thompson said.

Other team members competing in Arkansas were David Ackley, a junior in agribusiness management and rural development from Edon, Ohio; Riley Biddle, a junior in agronomy from Carmichaels, Pa.; Ashley Johnson, an animal and nutritional sciences student from Frostburg, Md.; Jimmy Leonard, a sophomore in agroecology Middletown, Md.; Emily Lessman, a sophomore in soil science from Mount Pleasant, Pa.; and Emily Wells, a senior in agribusiness management and rural development from Sistersville. Heather Watson, a doctoral candidate in plant and soil sciences, served as assistant coach.

23 Apr
image of Jeff in field

West Virginia University has led the nation in outreach and scholarship in the area of land reclamation, the restoration of sites disturbed by mineral extraction, highway construction and other activities that are destructive to soil. The WVU Extension Service was the first to employ a specialist in this critical area.

Jeff Skousen, the scholar who has served as WVU Extension’s land reclamation specialist and on the soil science faculty in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, has earned the William T. Plass Award from the American Society of Mining and Reclamation. He will accept the award at the Society’s national conference in June in Lexington, Ky.

The award, the society’s most prestigious, was established to honor Plass for his long-time commitment to mine land reclamation and for his major role in the establishment and organization of ASMR. The Plass Award recognizes outstanding national and international contributions in the areas of teaching and research as they relate to land reclamation.

“I was surprised to be nominated and selected for this award,” Skousen said. “The people who have received this award previously are influential and prominent in the mining and reclamation field, and I’m honored to be included in this group.

“But, even though this award is given to one person, the award really recognizes an excellent reclamation program composed of many individuals, researchers and colleagues who work in this vital area across WVU, West Virginia and the Appalachian region,” he added. “Much of our work at WVU would not be possible without the support, site access, and contributions from mining companies, consultants, and federal and state regulators.”

Visit WVU Today for the full story.

16 Apr

Greenhouse sales open to the public

David | April 16th, 2015

The Evansdale Greenhouse will be open to the public every weekend from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays starting this weekend (April 17-19) and lasting through mid-May (May 15-17). The WVU Horticulture Club will be selling a wide variety of bedding plants, hanging baskets, herbs and perennials. Funds will be used for educational trips and donations of plant materials to non-profits in the Morgantown area. For more information, contact Sven Verlinden at

15 Apr

West Virginia University students swept all categories in the West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition, taking three $10,000 first prize awards to help make a business idea come to life.

Emily Wells, Precision Agriculture Sampling Services (PASS), Lifestyle & Innovation category; Jordon Masters, Allegheny Genesis, Hospitality & Tourism Category; and Madelyn Harwell and Joshua Waggoner, Sustainable Dental Products, STEM category (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) took home first place for their respective categories in the competition on April 10. Wells is majoring in agribusiness management and rural development. Masters is majoring in horticulture. Harwell earned a degree in animal and nutritional sciences prior to beginning studies in WVU’s School of Dentistry.

The West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition allows students from around the state to pitch a business idea and receive education, skills, contacts and motivation necessary to start a viable start-up company in the state. The winner receives funding, in addition to legal, marketing and accounting services, as well as incubator space.

The surprise of the evening was an additional prize due to a last-minute investment of $10,000 from event sponsor Bodnar Investment Group, which opted to invest in Pubstomper Brewing Company. The business plan idea came from a team in the Hospitality & Tourism category, and included WVU students Cody Cheesebrough and Chris DeFazio.

The statewide business plan competition finals saw participation from five colleges and universities. The event was hosted by the BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, located within the WVU College of Business and Economics.

Visit WVU Today for the full story.

16 Mar

Club to screen Symphony of the Soil

David | March 16th, 2015
Symphony of the Soil Poster The West Virginia University Plant and Soil Sciences Club will screen “Symphony of the Soil” at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 19, in 1001 Agricultural Sciences Building. A panel discussion on the diverse value of soils to the natural environment and society will follow the film. The screening is free and open to the public.

A film from Debora Koons Garcia, “Symphony of the Soils is a feature-length film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil. Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s most highly esteemed soil scientists, farmers, and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story.

The 68th United Nations General Assembly has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS). According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the purpose of IYS 2015 is to “increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions” ( The WVU Plant and Soil Science Club is contributing to this effort to spread awareness of how soils influence everyday life and to inspire others to respect and nurture this vital resource. The club’s goal is to highlight these themes and issues to the entire WVU community as a way to demonstrate how soil health and soil security relates to all of our interests. In addition to this screening of “Symphony of the Soil,” you can learn more about soils and IYS 2015 by visiting the traveling IYS 2015 display currently in the Evansdale Library and following the Plant and Soil Science Club on Facebook (

The post-screening discussion panel will feature WVU’s Jeff Skousen, Jim Kotcon and Jim Rye, Mary Beth Adams of the USDA Forest SErvice, Katey Yoast of the West Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists..

For more information on “Symphony of the Soil,” please see, on Twitter @soilsymphony and on Facebook at

17 Feb

Input needed from beginning farmers

David | February 17th, 2015

If you’re an aspiring or beginning farmer, the West Virginia University Extension Service is seeking your input through a survey to help support development of beginning farmers’ training programs and resources in West Virginia.

“Growing new farmers is the key to the future of agriculture in West Virginia – the WVU Extension Service and its partners around the state are eager to support beginning farmers in making the transition into a career of farming,” said WVU Extension Service Agriculture Economics Specialist Doolarie Singh-Knights. “But, we need feedback from aspiring and beginning farmers to help us identify how our partner agencies and organizations can best assist farmers to thrive. We want to identify what resources are needed, what educational opportunities should be developed, and what resources are missing that will help beginning farmers be successful entrepreneurs.”

Results will be used by beginning farmer service providers to guide efforts toward solving the highest priority beginning farmer problems and provide the right trainings and resources to meet existing needs.

The study is a collaborative effort between the WVU Extension Service, West Virginia State University, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Farm and Food Coalition, and the West Virginia Veterans to Agriculture Program.

Connecting the people of West Virginia to the University’s resources and programs is the primary goal of WVU Extension Service and its 55 offices throughout the state. Local experts, like WVU Extension’s agents and specialists, work to help improve the lives and wellbeing of youths, workforces, communities, farms and businesses through trusted research in the counties in which they serve.

For more information about this survey, please contact Singh-Knights at or (304) 293-7606. To learn more about related WVU Extension programs, visit, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.