NEWS & EVENTS

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
marigolds

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 Sven.Verlinden@mail.wvu.edu.

15 Apr
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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” (www.fao.org/soils-2015). 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 (www.facebook.com/wvu.pssc).

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 www.symphonyofthesoil.com, on Twitter @soilsymphony and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SymphonyoftheSoil

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 dosingh-knights@mail.wvu.edu or (304) 293-7606. To learn more about related WVU Extension programs, visit www.ext.wvu.edu, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.

9 Feb
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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: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2015/02/05/gift-from-wvu-emerita-nurtures-organic-opportunities#sthash.r8MtZCDN.CyX5niHE.dpuf

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: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2015/02/03/wvu-extension-helps-farmers-make-a-big-impact-through-west-virginia-small-farm-conference#sthash.vhSOCX8M.dpuf

28 Jan
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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: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2014/12/22/get-year-round-gardening-advice-with-help-from-wvu-extension-service-s-garden-calendar#sthash.QCg3GHdV.dpuf