Women in Agriculture

Speaker Bios

Matt Lohr – Farm Credit Knowledge Center

Matt Lohr loves living life to the fullest. Some of his many adventures include personally visiting with three U.S. Presidents, riding a bull, hiking the Grand Canyon, flying a plane, winning a new Dodge truck, teaching middle school, climbing Mt. Fuji and entertaining audiences in all 50 states and eight countries around the world.

Matt developed a passion for speaking as a young FFA member and went on to serve as both state FFA president and national FFA vice president before graduating from Virginia Tech in 1995. A fifth generation farmer, he continues to own a 250 acre beef, poultry, sweet corn and agritourism operation in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

In 2003, Matt was awarded the first ever American Farm Bureau “Excellence in Agriculture” award and went on to chair both his county planning commission and school board. He then served for five years in the Virginia state legislature representing the 26th district before serving four years as Virginia’s 14th Commissioner of Agriculture. After leaving political office in early 2014, he joined the Farm Credit family in his role as director of the Knowledge Center for Farm Credit of the Virginias. Matt and his wife Beth stay “young” raising their six beautiful children.

Jennifer Hill Jones, “Tootie”

Both sides of Tootie’s family are deeply rooted in agriculture and have made significant contributions to farming and cattle in WV and beyond. Family Beef and Dairy operations provided her adolescent education and inspired what she has followed her entire life. From the back of a horse, she has studied and worked on ranches in North America, South America, Europe and the far West Indies learning about land, grazing, cattle, meat and the culture of that life. This helped develop her understanding of genetic origin, forages, unique qualities and a great zeal for cultural food influences. A education dotted in forestry, geology, pre-veterinary, bovine and equine reproduction, theology, marketing and training as a wilderness guide, she found her heartfelt commitment high on a Utah mountain. She came home and has passed that education forward by supporting and re-developing farming, food and cultural economy “to my people of the Appalachia”.

Tootie owns and manages Swift Level Farm and Swift Level Land and Cattle, her operating businesses. She is absolutely committed and passionate in her efforts to regenerate fertile soil, lush and abundant forages and to produce healthy, fat steers that finish “all grass”, which she markets by the cut and carcass in many restaurants and homes across the country. Visitors will also enjoy the small herds of horses that Tootie has been breeding for over 40 years, two of which have made two different Olympic 3 Day Event teams! She operates Swift Level with her two children, Rece and Everett, both very involved running the diverse seasonal event schedule, farm dinners and tours, educational programs and many fundraising events supporting the local community. “I couldn’t do this with out them!” And there is a new generation, a beautiful grand-daughter, making for 5 generations on Swift Level land.

Tootie encourages you to live by the philosophy that a society grows when it’s people plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

Swift Level was awarded the Greenbrier District Conservation Farm for 2014 and runner-up 2014 WV State Conservation Farm of the Year.

Kathy Evans – Evans Knob Farm

Evans Knob Farm, located near Bruceton Mills, WV (Preston County) has been in the Evans family for 5 generations. Mary Ann, the first settler of the Knob emigrated there from Wales, England. There has been a member of the Evans family farming the land ever since.

Kathy and Reid Evans currently operate the 130 acre farm. The Evans’ have grown much of their own food over the past twenty years. They started out with a small garden, a few chickens and turkeys, and 3 small daughters. Over the years they have learned much, and put organic growing methods into practice. In 2003, they became Certified Organic but chose to switch to Certified Natural Grown in 2011.

The Evans’ have nearly 3 acres dedicated to vegetable production, with the remaining 127 acres consisting of pastures, hay meadows and woodlands. They have a CSA and sell at the Morgantown Farmer’s Market. In addition to vegetables, the Evans’ sell pastured poultry, free range eggs, grass fed lamb, eco-friendly wool products, and cow’s milk soap. They also offer internships for those interested in a unique summer experience learning to produce food naturally.

Reid works off the farm and is an electronics tech for the PRT at WVU. When not working there, he is hard at work on the farm. He runs the big equipment, is chief engineer and designer of projects that helps farmer Kathy keep producing food and fibers. Kathy works full time on the farm raising vegetables, meat and fibers. Profits from the farm account for half their annual income.

Rachel Taylor – Frostmore Farm

Rachel Taylor is a native of Pocahontas County, West Virginia. She graduated from Alderson-Broaddus College with a degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Currently, she is employed by Community Care of West Virginia and works at clinic and school-base health sites in Pocahontas County.

Rachel, along with her husband Adam, were able to purchase the property that they now call Frostmore Farm in 2009. The farm got its name because it is located along Route 92 half way between Frost, WV and Dunmore, WV.

The farm had an existing sugarhouse that had been idle 30 years. In 2009, the Taylor’s started making syrup again. It started as a small bucket only operation and has grown each year. This past year we had 1200 taps on buckets, bags, and tubing. We made just over 300 gallons of syrup. She serves on the Board of Directors for the West Virginia Maple Syrup Producers Association, a group that is dedicated to promoting the maple syrup industry in WV.

For the past 5 years, they have had a fluctuating number of beehives as well in order to harvest honey to sell at fairs and festivals.

We recently received a grant from the NRCS and built a high-tunnel in the Spring of 2015. Next year they plan to sell produce and have a pick-your-own strawberry patch.

Carrie See – Farm Family Insurance

Carrie See has been interested in helping farmers all her life. She was raised on a small beef farm, and now owns one with her husband and two children. She worked for WVU Extension in the Ag and Natural Resources unit for eight years before opening her insurance office in Preston County, where she gets to help her favorite people, farmers, protect their investments and assets from everything life throws at them.

Chris Hogan – WVU Law School

Chris Hogan is a third-year (final year) law student at WVU College of Law where he is president of the Food and Agricultural Law Society. This student organization is engaged in numerous professional activities involving food and agriculture on a state and national level. Chris received a minor in Agribusiness from The Ohio State University. Chris grew up as the son of a county Extension Agent in Ohio and has been interested in agriculture from a young age.

Doolarie Singh-Knights – WVU Extension Service

Dee is an assistant professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at WVU, an Extension Specialist and coordinator of the WVU SARE program which seeks to advance American agriculture through research and innovation. She holds a doctorates degree in natural resource economics and a master’s degree in production economics from WVU. She received her bachelor’s degree in management studies from the University of the West Indies.

Her academic interests are in sustainable agriculture, agribusiness and extension education including such statewide projects as Annie’s Project and the Agritourism Initiative. The programs provide risk-management training, resources and networking opportunities for West Virginia women to help build viable, efficient and sustainable farm businesses. She has garnered grant-funded projects to work with agricultural service providers, producers and other stakeholders in the state to help with issues in environmental stewardship, business planning, financial management, marketing, food safety, risk-management and farm-based education.

Ed Smolder – Retired WVU Extension Service

Ed Smolder- A graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in agronomy, Ed served as the WVU Extension Agent in Jackson County for 32 years. He was instrumental in the organization and development of the Southern WV Bull Evaluation and Heifer Test program and has been a leader in small ruminant educational and marketing his entire career. Ed’s passion for youth education was his impetus for the development of a premier youth livestock program in Jackson County. Although retired from his formal role as an educator, Ed continues to be involved with many agricultural endeavors throughout the state.

Dave McGill – WVU Extension Service

Dr. Dave McGill is Professor/Extension Specialist for the West Virginia University Davis College, School of Natural Resources.

Dave received his Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Penn State, M.S. in Forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Since 2001, he has developed programs in forestry outreach education for private forestland owners in West Virginia and conducts a broad range of applied forestry research. Dave co-teaches the Global Forest Resources Course (FOR425) and Vegetation of West Virginia (FOR424).

Previous to his position at WVU, he worked as a natural hardwoods silviculture scientist for Westvaco Corporation focusing on forest regeneration in southeastern West Virginia and supported the Populus genetics research team and pine provenance testing and research. He has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer working in arid land forestry in Niger, West Africa.

Dave is a long standing member in the Society of American Foresters and participates in the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s (IUFRO) Small-Scale Forestry Group.

Lewis W. Jett – WVU Extension Service

Lewis Jett is Associate Professor and Extension Horticulture Specialist (small fruit and vegetable crops) with an emphasis in commercial, edible horticulture crops. He is a native of West Virginia. His research and outreach program focuses on methods to lengthen the traditional growing season and expanding locally grown production of fruits and vegetables. Dr. Jett uses high and low tunnel technology to expand local supply of fruits and vegetables. Other areas of research include stand establishment, seed production, no-till production and organic horticulture.

Rakesh S. Chandran – WVU Extension Service

Rakesh S. Chandran obtained B.S. in Agriculture from Kerala Agricultural University, India. Subsequently, he received a diploma in International Horticulture Program from Longwood Gardens (1990), Pennsylvania, M.S in Horticulture from University of Florida (1993), and Ph.D. in Weed Science from Virginia Tech (1997). After working as a post-doctoral researcher at University of Florida, he joined the faculty at West Virginia University in 1999, where he is currently an Extension Weed Specialist and Professor, and the IPM Coordinator. With primary extension responsibilities, he published over 100 articles including fact-sheets, newsletters, and research reports. He has also published 16 journal articles and three book chapters. He carries out a successful applied research and extension program to address grower problems related to weed management in agronomic, horticultural, and other crops in West Virginia. He teaches two undergraduate courses and serves on Graduate Committees. He is the President-Elect of the Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS).

Daniel L. Frank – WVU Extension Service

Daniel L. Frank is an entomology extension specialist and assistant professor with West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. Daniel received his B.S. in biology from Utah State University in 2001, M.S. in entomology from the University of Florida in 2004, and Ph.D. in entomology from Virginia Tech in 2009. Before joining WVU he was a postdoctoral research entomologist with USDA-ARS in Columbia, MO. Daniel’s areas of interest and expertise include chemical ecology and integrated pest management in agricultural crops. In his current position he conducts applied research and provides leadership for developing, implementing, and evaluating statewide educational/informational programs in entomology that include pest identification, integrated pest management, pesticide safety and education, and arthropod management and control programs. In addition, he teaches several classes within WVU’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Mahfuz Rahman – WVU Extension Service

Mahfuz Rahman is an Extension assistant professor and plant pathology specialist at WVU Extension Service. He received his B.S. in agriculture from Bangladesh Agricultural University, M.S. in plant pathology from Oregon State University, and Ph.D. in plant pathology from Simon Fraser University, Canada. He conducted post-doctoral research at North Carolina State University. Rahman joined WVU Extension Service in the summer of 2011. He conducts applied research and provides leadership for statewide educational/informational programs in plant pathology that include disease identification, management recommendations, and integrated disease management. He serves as the state contact and liaison for National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN). He monitors regional pest outbreak and spread of important plant diseases and provides early warning to growers about potential disease outbreaks and ways to prevent and control.

Marlon Knights – WVU Davis College

Dr. Marlon Knights is an Associate Professor of Animal Science at WVU who has over 15 years of experience working with livestock systems in the USA and the Caribbean. He previously worked as a consultant for various Caribbean countries on policy issues, livestock development and implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for livestock producers. Dr. Knights is one of the faculty leaders for the WV Small Ruminant project that supports the WV ram and buck test. He routinely works with small ruminant producers in WV and surrounding states on research and service projects focused on improving reproductive efficiency.

Tom Basden – WVU Extension Service

Tom Basden has worked for West Virginia University for 20 years is currently an Extension Specialist working in the areas of nutrient management, animal waste management and water quality. During the 1990’s Tom coordinated two USDA funded water quality demonstration projects: the Greenbrier Hydrologic Unit Project and The Potomac Headwaters Project. WVU Extension Service efforts in these targeted watersheds concentrated on improving dairy, beef and poultry waste management to improve water quality. Tom is currently working with the WV Nutrient Management Certification program and conducting research evaluating managed winter feeding areas for small beef herds.

Lilly Parker – Farmer

Lilly Parker operates a 500 acre mixed livestock farm in Marion County. Lilly runs a 100 head beef cattle herd, has a group of 50 goats mainly for brush control and in the last 5 years added 20 katahdin hair sheep. Lilly operates the farm with help from her son and neighbors. Lilly participated in a USDA funded project evaluating the conservation effects of multi species grazing. The addition of the flock of sheep was a component of this three year demonstration project. Lilly has had success adding this sheep enterprise to her operation, but there have been challenges with coyotes and animal health issues.

Darin Matlick – WVU Extension Service

Darin Matlick might spend his days on the farm helping animals, but as a seasoned veterinary specialist for West Virginia University Extension Service, he says the field is as much about the people who own the animals as it is about the animals themselves.

Matlick provides training and education to West Virginia farmers through the state’s 55 county offices of the WVU Extension Service. Programs range from training in areas like Beef Quality Assurance to the importance of livestock vaccinations.

Matlick graduated with a doctorate degree from The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in animal and veterinary sciences from WVU, and an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy from Allegany Community College.

Greg and Lindsey Estep – Little Fish Design Company

Little Fish Design Company (LFDC) specializes in helping small businesses build their reputation and grow their customer base through great design and strategic marketing. LFDC is comprised of a husband and wife team with ten years of design experience (Lindsey), and nearly a decade of operations management and marketing experience (Greg). Lindsey has earned a BFA and MA in Graphic design as well as a MBA from WVU. Greg has earned an AS in Forestry from Glenville State College, a BS in Wood Science from WVU, a MS in Civil Engineering from Washington State University and a PhD in Forestry from WVU. We believe West Virginia is home to many amazing entrepreneurs and small businesses, and are proud to help those businesses build their reputation and brand.

Matt Browning – West Virginia State University

Matt Browning is the Director of Communications for Research and Public Service at West Virginia State University, providing departmental leadership in marketing, advertising and other communication needs for WVSU Extension Service and the agricultural research division. He is also an adjunct instructor for WVU’s Reed College of Media. He has a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from WVU and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from WVSU.

Stacey Herrick – West Virginia State University

Stacy Herrick is a Communications Specialist at West Virginia State University focusing on graphic design, marketing and social media management for WVSU Extension Service and the agricultural research division. She has a master’s degree in Information Design and Technology from State University of New York Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Art from Washington & Jefferson College.

Becky Osborne – WVU Extension Service

Becky’s primary role with the West Virginia University Extension Service is to provide technology training and support in the areas of Office 2013, Outlook (email), slate (website development), file management, browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome), digital photography, Acrobat Reader and Professional, Symantec Endpoint Protection, web conferencing, multimedia projectors, and coordinating and editing the twice-monthly newsletter (OT…the things you “ought” to know). She also provides support for local area networks and connectivity, mailing list creation and maintenance, purchasing, hardware, troubleshooting, and other areas as needed. Becky has an M.S. (Animal & Veterinary Sciences) degree from WVU, a B.S. (Agriculture Economics & Resource Management) degree from WVU, and an A.A.S. degree (Computer Programming Technology) from Potomac State College.