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WV Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame set to honor 2024 inductees

The West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame (WVAFHOF) will honor the 2024 inductees with a banquet on Saturday, July 20, at Jackson’s Mill. The evening will start with a reception at 5:00 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:00 p.m. The banquet is open to any interested parties. To purchase tickets, contact Rebecca Williams at (304) 825-6983.

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 agriculture, forestry, and family life in West Virginia and around the world.

“The people we are honoring this year have contributed so much of their valuable time and effort to the residents of their communities and the State of West Virginia, as a whole,” said WVAFHOF President Jeremy McGill. “Their work and dedication to advancing the science and the practice of agriculture, forestry, and family life, that is integral to supporting those careers, has earned them this prestigious recognition. It is important that we come together and celebrate their achievements.”

The 2024 inductees are:

Mark Bowers (Petersburg, WV) – A native son of West Virginia, Mark is commonly known as “Mr. Maple” to maple syrup producers across the Mountain State because of his drive and enthusiasm for maple production and educating the community and fellow maple-makers about the intricacies of the business. He is the founding president of the WV Maple Syrup Producer’s Association and is still an active member today. He’s been instrumental in expanding the industry across our State.

William ‘Bill’ Coffindaffer (Jane Lew, WV) – Born in Harrison County, Bill was born and raised on a dairy farm. He earned a BS in Dairy Science from WVU and an MS in Agriculture from NC State. After completing his education, he returned home to embark on a lifelong career of service. Bill has served in numerous agencies and boards well into retirement. His contributions can be felt across the State in all the lives he has touched.

Mark Fitzsimmons (Cameron, WV) – A lifelong resident of northern West Virginia, Mark started his life on a dairy farm which taught him the importance of conservation and agriculture. Earning a BS in Biology from West Liberty State College, he soon transitioned to a teaching career in Marshall County that spanned generations. Going above and beyond, he impacted the lives of many young people by introducing them to science and agriculture. Some also know him for his work as an auctioneer and his service to the West Virginia Auctioneer’s Association. Mark’s community service across Marshall County and northern WV is also well known.

Carol Sue Miles, PHD (Morgantown, WV) – A daughter of the Mountain State, Carol went on to earn a BA from WVU and her master’s and a PhD from Cornell University. She found her passion in working with youth and parents in teaching behavior and leadership skills to empower children to become exceptional adults. After her extensive career with Cooperative Extension, Carol continued to touch lives through her work with The Uganda Fund.

Ric MacDowell (Charleston, WV) – Originally from Chester, Pennsylvania, Ric came to WV after earning his master’s in education from Grinnell College in Iowa. He has spent a lifetime working on projects to support low-income youth and families across southern West Virginia through wastewater processing projects, court advocacy, summer camps, and parenting classes. Additionally, he participated in and led delegations to Nicaragua, Mexico, and Colombia, focusing on social justice abroad.

John Frederick Kelsey (Southside, WV) – A native of Michigan, John grew up on a family farm. He went on to pursue a physics degree at Michigan State University earning his MS. Eventually, he ended up running his one-man corporation here in WV, where he became involved with the practical science of growing walnut for veneer production, starting an experimental planting at Blennerhassett Island State Park. Additionally, John and his son created a computer program that helps managers decide which trees to thin out of a walnut stand for maximum growth.

Lloyd ‘Rudy’ Williams (Fairmont, WV) – An Eagle Scout hailing from Fairmont, Rudy attended WVU to achieve his BS in Forestry with a minor in Soil Sciences. He’s had a long career in Forestry, mostly with the WV Division of Forestry. His career has spanned multiple programs, counties, and districts allowing him to help landowners across the State in everything from wildfire control to the Tree Farm Program. Additionally, he is a founding member of the WV Envirothon Committee, still working with youth to help educate WV high school students in the practical science of environmental conservation and protection.

Arthur ‘Art” Yagel (Summersville, WV) – Art is a long-time Christmas tree farmer in Nicholas County and a former WV Division of Forestry employee. He is perhaps best known for being a pioneer in wildfire investigations in the State, bringing national knowledge from volunteer assignments across the nation and adapting it for use in WV. Art’s work helped catch arsonists and expanded outreach and educational efforts about wildfire prevention. Though retired, Art remains actively involved with the WV Christmas Tree Growers Association and the WV Forestry Association.


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