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.

9 Feb

West Virginia University is one of a small number of schools with a well-established organic agriculture initiative, and its research activities filter into academics and outreach.

Linda Butler A retired WVU faculty member has enhanced the project’s capacities. Linda Butler, professor emeritus of entomology, has endowed the Butler Organics Discretionary Fund to support WVU’s Organic Research Project in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

During her tenure at WVU, Butler was part of the multidisciplinary group of researchers who launched the initiative in 1998 and began transitioning the traditional horticulture farm into a certified organic facility.

“Personally, I have always been very committed to environmentally friendly means of food production, having grown my own organic fruits and vegetables for many years,” Butler said. “Additionally, I wanted to support the Organic Research Project because it is now a long-lived project that has a strong past and, with help, can continue successfully into the future.”

The Organic Research Project encompasses many disciplines, including entomology, animal science, horticulture, soil science, crops agronomy and weed management.

– See more at:

4 Feb
WV Small Farm Conference

Registration is open for West Virginia University Extension Service’s 11th annual West Virginia Small Farm conference, which helps West Virginia farmers grow their farm enterprise and cultivate a brighter future for the state’s agriculture industry.

The conference takes place Feb. 26-28 at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston and offers rigorous sessions and valuable information to suit a variety of farm-related interests and needs.

“With the ever-growing topic of buying local, eating local foods and shopping at farmers markets, there’s no better place to learn, collaborate and help grow West Virginia’s small farm and agriculture industry than the Small Farm Conference,” said Tom McConnell, program leader for WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center.

He said the conference educates farmers how to better understand their farm business, how to effectively market their products and more.

– See more at:

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