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2023 Agriculture Webinar and Dinner Meeting Series

A person leans on a fence, wearing gloves in the winter, with a red barn visible in the background.

Each winter, WVU Extension brings education, know-how and research right to your community through a series of educational dinner meetings. This year, we're offering a mix of virtual and in-person meeting opportunities across West Virginia for the 2023 agriculture education series!

Participants have the same opportunity to learn from WVU Extension specialists and industry experts about relevant topics to help you improve your own agricultural operations.

As part of the February series, a new farm-focused weekly webinar session will be presented via Zoom on Thursdays. Special dinner meetings focused rural stress and mental health will also be held in February at locations around the state – see details below. In March, additional agricultural topics will be explored during regional dinner meetings throughout the state.

Below is an overview of each course. Registration/RSVP information for each session is provided below.

Webinar Series

Our Palates, Our Plants, Our Animals, Ourselves

February 2 at 7 p.m.

Presenter: Fred Provenza

Fred Provenza will outline his decades worth of research regarding the inherent nutritional wisdom of livestock species and their ability to select the most appropriate forage species for their needs at a given time.

Fred grew up in Salida, Colorado, working on a ranch while attending school in Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University. He is professor emeritus of behavioral ecology in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University, where he worked for 35 years, directing an award-winning research group that pioneered an understanding of how learning influences foraging behavior and how behavior links soil, plants, herbivores and humans. He is the author of three books, including Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us about Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom; Foraging Behavior: Managing to Survive in a World of Change; and The Art & Science of Shepherding: Tapping the Wisdom of French Herders (co-authored with Michel Meuret). He has published over 300 research papers in a wide variety of scientific journals. He has been an invited speaker at over 500 conferences.  

Register for the Webinar 

Improving Soil Health with Grazing

February 9 at 7 p.m.

Presenter: Doug Peterson

Doug Peterson will discuss the simultaneous application of grazing and soil health principles and their impact on livestock enterprises environmentally and economically. 

Doug grew up on a crop and livestock farm near Newtown, in Northern Missouri. An NRCS employee for more than 32 years, Doug started his career as a soil scientist. Most recently, he served as a regional soil health specialist, helping row crop and livestock producers around the country understand soil health and regenerative agriculture, how it impacts virtually all natural resource processes and how to effectively regenerate the health, function and productivity of our soil. For the last 25 years, he has operated his own 250-head cow/calf and contract grazing operation. He uses adaptive regenerative grazing to regenerate soil health, eliminating the need for most purchased fertilizer and limiting hay needs to about one bale per cow per winter.

Register for the Webinar

Small Orchard Management

February 16 at 7 p.m.

Presenter: Mira Bulatovic-Danilovich

Having an orchard is a challenge, but it is fun, too. However, it is more fun if we manage to avoid common pitfalls by doing a bit of a homework and planning before each season. This talk is going to be an overview of tasks that need to be accomplished before each season starts. We will start with pruning to manage crop potential and improve overall tree health, touch on nutrient management and talk about the most common insect and disease problems and their management. 

Mira is the WVU Extension consumer horticulture specialist and an associate professor with WVU Extension and WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. Prior to joining WVU in the summer of 2013, Mira spent 20 years working for Michigan State University Extension as district horticulture and marketing educator, providing regional and statewide leadership to commercial fruit (cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, apples and pears) producers in Michigan. Mira serves as the state coordinator for the West Virginia Extension Master Gardener Program.

Register for the Webinar

Dinner Meeting Series

Rural Stress

February 6-22 at Regional Locations

Farm families are used to physical labor and working long hours. Farm debt, weather, rising expenses and animal health concerns add to mental stress that can contribute to chronic illness and depression. The last decade has been particularly difficult on farmers with increasing pressures resulting in high levels of stress, mental health issues and suicide. WVU Extension and other organizations are working to find solutions when families are struggling, including financial management, grazing and production strategies and crop risk protection. 

This training will provide information on the unique challenges farmers face that can lead to stress, depression and suicide. We believe that quality education empowers all people, regardless of their background, to make a positive difference in the life of someone they know. Your neighbor or family member might be struggling; this training could provide the information and resources you need to recognize it and get them help. 

Rural Stress Dinner Meeting Details:

February 6, 6:30 p.m. at Valley Grove Community Center – To RSVP, contact Karen Cox.

February 7, 5:30 p.m. at Sunday Road Baptist Church – To RSVP, contact  Brian Sparks.

February 9, 6:30 p.m. at WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit Education Center – To RSVP, contact Mary Beth Bennett.

February 15, 6:30 p.m. at Quiet Dell United Methodist Church – To RSVP, contact Jennifer Friend.

February 21, 6 p.m. at Cabell County Extension Office – To RSVP, contact Evan Wilson.

February 21, 6:30 p.m. at WVU Building, State Fairgrounds – To RSVP, contact Josh Peplowski.

February 22, 6:30 p.m. at Roane County Library – To RSVP, contact Brandy Brabham.

February 22, 6 p.m. at Moorefield Middle School – To RSVP, contact Alex Smith.

NOTE: There is no cost to attend.

Improving Pasture with Multi-species Grazing 

March 6-9 in Mineral, Hampshire, Hardy/Grant, and Berkeley Counties

Presenter: Aaron Helmick

Aaron and Tara Helmick and their children live on and operate Anathoth Livestock in Greenville, West Virginia. Both Aaron and Tara hold degrees from WVU, and Tara has a master of ag from WVU as well.  The family is native to WV and operate a pasture based system with no hay making. The family is supported through farming/ranching = franching. The land base used to operate consists of 240 owned acres in partnership with the bank while 494 acres are rented. Currently, the Helmicks are operating 900 hair ewes, 1,500 feeder lambs, goats, broilers, pigs, custom grazing and a sell/buy enterprise. Production decisions are based on the family business vision and mission and economics as neither Aaron or Tara work off the farm.

Aaron will talk grazing cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs at scale, how to stack multiple species, and the effect of the grazing multiple species on water retention, solar collection by plants, drought resilience, economics and finance, and the changes that mat be expected in the landscape.

Multi-species Grazing Dinner Meeting Details:

March 6, 6 p.m. at Brookedale Farm Event Barn – To RSVP, contact Stacey Huffman.

March 7, 6 p.m. at August Firehall – To RSVP, contact Candace DeLong.

March 8, 6 p.m. at North Fork Ruritan  – To RSVP, contact Brad Smith.

March 9, 6:30 p.m. at WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit Education Center  – To RSVP, contact Mary Beth Bennett.

NOTE: Please RSVP for all dinner meetings at least two weeks in advance.

Bale Grazing: Simple, Cheap, Effective Way to Winter Cattle 

March 6-9 in Ohio, Harrison, Tucker and Monongalia Counties

Presenter: Greg Halich

Would you like to switch to a hay feeding system that cut your labor and tractor time in half? Would you like to switch to a hay feeding system that does away with the piles of concentrated manure, and instead evenly distributes it across pastures and hayfields? Bale grazing is a hay feeding system where hay is set out on pasture in good weather, and fed and controlled with temporary electric fencing, much like rotational grazing. Set up and executed well, it can easily cut your tractor and labor time by half or more, and can create lush, well-fertilized pastures without spending a cent on commercial fertilizers. If all this sounds too good to be true come join us to find out how these and additional benefits can be had by implementing bale grazing on your farm. The presenter, University of Kentucky agricultural economist Greg Halich, has been bale grazing on his personal farm the last ten years and has worked with other cattle farms for the last six years to help them implement bale grazing. 

Greg Halich is an agricultural economist at the University of Kentucky, where he works with farmers to improve profitability on livestock and grain farms. Current production focus areas related to livestock are 1) determining the most profitable hay-feeding days for individual farms, 2) bale grazing (winter feeding technique that reduces machinery and labor and increases pasture fertility), 3) biological farming techniques that reduce or eliminate the need for commercial fertilizer inputs, 4) reducing hay production costs, and 5) extended season grazing systems. He lives and farms in southern Woodford County outside of Lexington, Kentucky, where he produces grass-finished beef and has been bale grazing for ten years. 

Bale Grazing Dinner Meeting Details:

March 6, 6:30 p.m. at Sleep Inn, Moundsville – To RSVP, contact Karen Cox.

March 7, 6:30 p.m. at West Milford Community Building – To RSVP, contact Jennifer Friend.

March 8, 5:30 p.m. at Camp Kidd – To RSVP, contact Jesica Streets.

March 9, 6 p.m. at Core Community Center – To RSVP, contact Betsy Thomas.

NOTE: Please RSVP for all dinner meetings at least two weeks in advance.

Worms: An Unconventional Look at Parasites and Parasite Control in Cattle

March 6-8 in Nicholas, Mercer and Summers Counties 

Presenter: Dr. Lowell Midla

Dr. Lowell Midla was born and raised on a farm in southwestern Pennsylvania, where his family raised registered Polled Hereford beef cattle. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988 and his V.M.D. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), also from Penn, in 1992.

Following graduation, Dr. Midla joined a mixed animal practice in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In 1994, he moved on to The Ohio State University, where he completed a food animal medicine and surgery residency and simultaneously earned a master’s degree. His master’s degree research focused on laminitis and lameness in dairy cattle. In 1996, Dr. Midla and his wife Joanne established a veterinary practice near Marianna, Pennsylvania. In the fall of 2001, he joined the faculty of The Ohio State University, practicing and teaching at the large animal ambulatory service in Marysville, Ohio. In 2016, he joined the cattle technical services team at Merck Animal Health.

This program will be an evidence based look at the diagnosis, treatment and control of internal parasites in beef herds.

Parasite Control Dinner Meeting Details:

March 6, 5:30 p.m. at Nicholas County Veterans Memorial Park 4-H Building – To RSVP, contact Brian Sparks

March 7, 5:30 p.m. at Mercer County 4-H Camp – To RSVP, contact Jodi Richmond.

March 8, 6 p.m. at Summers County Memorial Building – To RSVP, contact David Richmond.

NOTE: Please RSVP for all dinner meetings at least two weeks in advance.

Changing the Grazing Mentality: Learning to Treat Pasture as a Crop 

March 13-16 in Pendleton, Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe Counties

Presenter: Ben Goff

Ben Goff is originally from Grafton, West Virginia, and was raised on a small cattle farm. He earned is bachelor's degree in agronomy from West Virginia University in 2007 before continuing his education and earning his master's degree from Iowa State University in crop production and physiology and his doctorate from the University of Kentucky in crop science. Ben currently serves as the agriculture and natural resources agent in Jackson County.  Before coming to WVU, Ben was an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and taught courses on forage management and statistics, while conducting research on improving the utilization of forage legumes in various cropping systems.

Despite having the largest acreage of farmland devoted to its production across West Virginia and the nation, many producers overlook the systematic management of pastures compared to other crops.  This talk will discuss the most common overlooked management needs of pasture systems and provide several simple tips for changes producers may make to change the grazing mentality and increase profitability.

Pasture Grazing Dinner Meeting Details:

March 13, 6:30 p.m. at Clinton Hedrick Community Building – To RSVP, contact Brooke Alt.

March 14, 6 p.m. at Marlinton Municipal Building – To RSVP, contact Greg Hamons.

March 15, 6:30 p.m. at WVU Building, State Fairgrounds – To RSVP, contact Josh Peplowski.

March 16, 6:30 p.m. at WVU Kearneysville Tree Fruit Education Center – To RSVP, contact Brian Wickline.

NOTE: Please RSVP for all dinner meetings at least two weeks in advance.

High Tunnel Management: New Ideas for 2023 and Beyond

March 20-23 in Cabell, Roane, Tyler and Wood Counties

Presenter: Lewis Jett

 Lewis Jett is the WVU Extension Horticulture Specialist. Dr. Jett is a native of West Virginia and works with commercial horticulture crop producers across West Virginia. His interest includes vegetables, fruits, herbs and native plants. A major focus of his research and outreach projects has been high tunnel crop management. 

This presentation will provide new, up-to-date information for anyone interested in high tunnel crop production. New and more efficient ways to heat, cool, irrigate and fertilize will be discussed. In addition, new crops with high profit potential will be discussed. Producers will receive information that can improve efficiency of high tunnel specialty crop production and will be presented options for year-round specialty crop production using high tunnels in West Virginia.

High Tunnel Dinner Meeting Details:

March 20, 6 p.m. at Cabell County 4-H Camp – To RSVP, contact Evan Wilson.

March 21, 6:30 p.m. at Roane County Library – To RSVP, contact Brandy Brabham

March 22, 6 p.m. at Tyler County Fairgrounds, Middlebourne – To RSVP, contact Julia Bolin.

March 23, 7 p.m. at Fort Boreman Room, Judge Black Annex, Wood County Courthouse – To RSVP, contact JJ Barrett

NOTE: Please RSVP for all dinner meetings at least two weeks in advance.