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WVU Extension leader’s commitment to agriculture to be recognized with hall of fame induction

West Virginia University Extension Associate Dean Jennifer Ours Williams grew up on her family farm in Hardy County, West Virginia, where she was raised with strong work ethic and learned the value of agriculture to the A headshot of Jennifer Williams who is wearing a pink shirt sweater and eyeglasses.state and the world. Forty years later, she is known for being a tireless advocate and strong voice for the agribusiness owners, including the state’s female farmers.

On July 23, she will be honored for her passion and commitment to the state with induction into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, which was chartered in 1974, recognizes West Virginians who have made outstanding contributions to the establishment, development, advancement and improvement of agricultural and forest industries in West Virginia and around the world. 

Williams was raised at Ours Valley View Poultry Farm in Fisher, West Virginia, where she was active in 4-H and FFA, and earned countless honors in those organizations, including first place in the state poultry judging contest. She was the first woman in the state to become a USDA-certified livestock grader and was instrumental in the creation of WVU Extension’s West Virginia Women in Agriculture Conference.

Williams graduated from WVU with a Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Science and a Master of Science in Agriculture Education. Her first job was as a livestock marketing specialist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. She was part of the inaugural board of directors for the first West Virginia Beef Expo and served as the group’s secretary for nearly 20 years. She also helped the Expo establish the West Virginia Stockman’s Contest, which has become the state’s largest agricultural youth event.

She joined WVU Extension as the agriculture agent for Upshur County and led a team that developed the Premier Exhibitor Program at the State Fair of West Virginia. She then moved to Morgantown to lead Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources unit before becoming associate dean. Williams has been a driving force behind the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame and championed major renovations to the organization’s facilities at WVU Jackson’s Mill.

She received numerous honors and recognition, including the Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (2020) and National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (2015); the West Virginia Wonder Woman from WV Media (2019); Gamma Sigma Delta Extension Faulty Award of Merit (2012); and the WVDA Women in Agriculture Award (2010). She is the co-owner of Ours Valley View Poultry Farm, which raises more than one million birds and grows 400 acres of corn and soybeans annually.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Jennifer during the past two years,” WVU Dean of Extension and Engagement Jorge Atiles said. “She is such a passionate advocate for West Virginia, including our agricultural community. Her work with our female agribusiness owners and farmers is so important to the state’s economic prosperity, and she has done outstanding work around the state. I am so happy to see her commitment, as well as Tom’s accomplishments, recognized with induction into this esteemed hall of fame.”

Joining Williams with induction into the Hall of Fame is WVU Extension retiree Thomas “Tom” McConnell. McConnell received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture from WVU. He served as the program leader for the WVU Extension Small Farm Center before retiring in 2020. During his time with WVU Extension, he served as the WVU Extension Preston County agriculture agent for 20 years before being promoted to Extension assistant dean. McConnell continues to operate a large beef cattle and sheep farm in Terra Alta. He’s a founding member of the Preston Farmers’ Market and the Preston County Chamber of Commerce.

Other inductees include William P. “Bill” Ingram of Tyler County and Juergen A. Wildman of Monongalia County.

“As we continue to see supply chain issues ravage our economy, it's vital to invest in local agricultural systems. The people we are honoring this year have worked their entire careers promoting West Virginia agriculture,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “It is important we recognize the work of these great West Virginians.”

The West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame will honor the 2022 inductees with a reception and banquet on Saturday, July 23 at 5 p.m. at WVU Jackson’s Mill. For more information, contact Jennifer Keaton at 304-558-3200 (

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Tara Curtis
WVU Extension