JACKSON’S MILL, WV (WOAY) – The West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame (WVAFHF) Foundation will recognize ten individuals for their outstanding contributions to the agricultural, forestry and family life of West Virginia. Due to COVID-19, these individuals will be enshrined at the 2021 banquet to be held at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill next July.
“The current pandemic has highlighted how important agriculture and forestry are to West Virginia. All of those being honored have helped those industries flourish or worked towards bettering the lives of our citizens,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “It is important we continue to recognize the work of great West Virginians.”
Chartered in 1974, the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame honors 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.
“Being inducted into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame celebrates the life’s work of those hard-working individuals who have helped to shape the past and grow the future of agriculture, forestry and family life,” said Jennifer Ours Williams, president of the organization.
Andrew Delmar Hopkins (Jackson County) is considered the “father of forest entomology” for his work studying and cataloging pest insects in West Virginia and elsewhere. He acquired a wealth of knowledge in the field, taught at WVU, and authored dozens of academic papers of international import. He was born near Ripley in 1857 and died at his farm in Wood County in 1948.
Donald L. Michael (Wood County) was born Sept. 8, 1949 in Parkersburg. During his multi-decade career, he was the face of FFA in West Virginia and later served as the West Virginia Farm Bureau’s (WVFB) Director of Government Affairs. He was instrumental in the development of numerous agriculture education programs and is the recipient of numerous awards from FFA organizations and others.
Dr. Elaine Bowen (Monongalia County) joined the WVU Extension Service and dedicated her career to improving the health and well-being of West Virginia youth, families and senior citizens through numerous programs and campaigns. She cultivated partnerships with other health organizations and initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles. She retired in 2019 and was promptly granted Faculty Emeritus status
Dr. Phillip I. Osborne (Harrison County) is a WVU Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist and Professor Emeritus who transformed the production and marketing of West Virginia cattle by establishing quality assurance programs and leveraging new technology to market feeder cattle. He was instrumental in the establishment and operation of major cattle and livestock events and has added millions of dollars in value to the state’s beef herd.
Joe A. Gumm (Randolph County) is a lifelong resident of Randolph County, where he operated dairy and beef farms for many years. He has been extremely involved in conservation programs, serving as the President of the West Virginia Association of Conservation Districts, among many others. He is a founder and longtime supporter of the West Virginia Envirothon, North America’s largest high school environmental education competition.
Jules August Viquesney (Barbour County) served as West Virginia’s first Forest, Game and Fish Warden. Working cooperatively with the federal government, private landowners and the West Virginia Legislature, he laid the foundation for forest health by establishing forest fire fighting and other forest health programs. He is among the founders of the fabled Cheat Mountain Club and the Allegheny Sportsman’s Association.
Mary Beth Adams (Randolph County) is a leading authority on forest and soil ecology. A longtime USDA Forest Service employee, she has written nearly 160 papers, edited six scientific journals, sat on numerous committees, and served as adjunct faculty at multiple colleges and universities. Active in a wide variety of professional organizations, she helped organize many tours, workshops and presentations throughout West Virginia and the country. Her awards are numerous, and she frequently plays the “Mouse King” in the Augusta Youth Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
Patricia R Gruber (Harrison County) has spent more than four decades working in WVU Extension Service programs that aim to develop leadership skills and help families manage finances and health. She is a WVU Extension Service Associate Professor Emeritus and is widely known for her work as State Advisor of the West Virginia Community Education Outreach Service (CEOS).
Terry Jones (Lewis County) has worked in a variety of forestry-related jobs throughout his career. An avid outdoorsman, he served as the Wildlife Staff Forester and National Forest Coordinator for the WV Division of Natural Resources for many years. He currently works as a forestry consultant through his firm, Rich Mountain Forestry LLC. The WV Forestry Association presented him with its Forester of the Year award in 2009.
William McClellan Ritter (Mercer County) is among West Virginia’s greatest lumbermen and businessmen. Starting with a one-third interest in 1,000 acres of timber, he built the world’s largest hardwood lumber company. He advised War Industries Board Chairman Bernard Baruch during World War I and made national headlines by earning a White House visit by giving $3 million in stock to a trust fund for employees.