Commissioner of Agriculture
Kent Leonhardt is a longtime farmer who began his passion for farming at a very young age, but got his start in the industry by reviving a farm that had sat abandoned for over 40 years located near Blacksville, West Virginia. The farm, that he still lives on today, was purchased in 1982 and started cultivating crops and raising livestock in 1997. As of 2017, the farm has grown from the original 205 acres to 380 contiguous acres. With the help of his wife, Shirley, Kent raises sheep, cattle and goats and sells hay when there is a surplus available.
Kent received his formal education in the science of agriculture by earning his Bachelors Degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Missouri. While earning his degree he took a variety of courses covering issues pertinent to the Department of Agriculture as well as the Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. Kent furthered his education by earning a Masters in Business Management from Central Michigan University.
Besides earning post-secondary degrees, Kent served in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1996. During that time, he served on multiple joint service assignments leading men and women in war and peace. Throughout his service, Kent received a variety of decorations including: Legion of Merit, Combat Action Ribbon and 8 other personal decorations.
In 2014, Kent was elected to the West Virginia State Senate to serve the people of the 2nd Senatorial District. The district he was chosen to represent in Charleston is one of the largest and most rural in West Virginia containing parts of or all of the following counties: Marshall, Wetzel, Gilmer, Marion, Monongalia, Tyler, Doddridge, Calhoun, and Ritchie. In 2016, he was elected as the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture.
Kent and his wife Shirley still live on their farm in Western Monongalia County. Together, they have three sons and five grandchildren. Kent is a member of the Monongalia County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and is a member of the Monongalia County Livestock Association.
Dr. Ken Blemings
Interim Dean, WVU Davis College
Kenneth P. Blemings currently serves as interim dean of the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and interim director of the West Virginia Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
Blemings joined the WVU Davis College in 1999 as an assistant professor in the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses in biochemistry and played an integral part in growing WVU's undergraduate biochemistry program. After his promotion to full professor in 2010, Blemings assumed more administrative responsibilities serving the Division as assistant director for academic affairs. In 2014, he was appointed interim dean of the WVU Honors College and then permanent dean in 2015.
As a faculty member, Blemings was recognized at the College and University levels for outstanding advising. His teaching accolades include recognition as a WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher and an APLU/USDA Regional Teaching Award.
Blemings earned a bachelor's degree in animal sciences and biochemistry from Virginia Tech. He then earned a master's degree in meat and animal science as well as a doctorate in nutritional sciences and meat and animal sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin.
Steven C. Bonanno
Dean, WVU Cooperative Extension Service
Steven C. Bonanno is the Director of the West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service, serving in that capacity since July 2011. Before taking on the task of leading WVU Extension's 450 faculty and staff members across the state, Bonanno served as the director of the Community, Economic Workforce Development unit.
After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in agriculture education, Bonanno began his life-long career with the organization as the Pleasants County WVU Extension agent. The New York-native found a place for himself creating and implementing programming in community development, 4-H, health and nutrition and agriculture for West Virginians in that county and region. While there, Bonanno also spent 18 years as director and deputy director of Pleasants County's Emergency Services. That background helps him lead programming and develop resources for WVU Extension projects - like the West Virginia State Fire Academy and Junior Fire Fighter Camp.
In his current role as the leader of WVU Extension Service, Steve serves on the WVU Deans' Council and represents WVU Extension on the Economic Opportunity and Policy Development roundtable for the University's 2020 Strategic Plan.
Barry L. Cook
State Forester, WV Division of Forestry
Barry L. Cook, Director/State Forester of the West Virginia Division of Forestry, is a seasoned forester of 45 years, a military veteran and a West Virginia native. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University in 1970 and obtained his Master of Business Administration degree from Duke University in 1994.
Director Cook started his forestry career as a logging superintendent for Weyerhaeuser Company in Plymouth, North Carolina. In 1975, he accepted a position with J. P. Hamer Lumber Company as a procurement forester, a position he held until 1978 when he became the procurement manager for Coastal Lumber Company. Cook spent the next 26 years accelerating through the leadership ranks until he resigned in 2002 as the Coastal Lumber vice-president of operations to become president of Forest Products Group, an arm of Kimball International. Barry, and his wife Donna, then purchased and successfully operated Indiana Hardwoods, headquartered in Chandler, Indiana. In 2008, the Cook family relocated to Beckley, West Virginia, to afford Barry the opportunity to personally oversee the acquisition of Indiana Hardwoods by Cranberry Lumber Company. Since that time, he has consulted on various forestry projects as owner of Cook Natural Resources.
Prior to being appointed by Governor Jim Justice to serve as West Virginia's State Forester, Director Cook served on executive committees and boards for various organizations including the Hardwood Manufacturing Association; the West Virginia Forestry Association; Pioneer Southern Company; Coastal Lumber Company; Chocoyotte Country Club; and Gutchess Lumber.
Cabinet Secretary, Division of Environmental Protection
January 2017, Austin Caperton was appointed by Governor Jim Justice as Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Combining his extensive executive experience, along with his education, Mr. Caperton has provided strategic direction, acquisition, disposition, financing, workout, and project-oriented services to clients, primarily in the coal, energy and related fields. Since 1989, Mr. Caperton has generated and managed transactions for clients and consulted on a wide range of management functions, including operations, sales and finance.
Caperton graduated from Virginia Tech in 1973 with a degree in Mining Engineering, followed by a law degree from WVU College of Law in 1976.
Executive Director, Logan County Development Authority
Rocky Adkins, a native West Virginian, serves as the County Administrator for Logan County as well as the Executive Director of the Logan County Development Authority (LCDA).
Rocky started his career in 1973, working for a family-owned construction company. In 1990, joined the management team at a local lumber home center. In 2002, was named to his current position as Executive Director of the LCDA. In 2004, Rocky became the County Administrator for Logan County.
Rocky also serves on the Guyan Conservation District, Logan County Airport Authority, Logan County Solid Waste Authority, Hatfield-McCoy Trail Authority, Logan County Chamber of Commerce, Chief Logan Recreational Center, Inc., Chief Logan Recreational Center Foundation and on the Advisory Committee at Christ Temple Church to help create long-term addiction recovery facilities in Huntington.
President, WV Association of Conservation Districts
Bill Stewart graduated high school in 1958 and attended WV Institute of Technology and Marshall University. He married his high school sweetheart in 1960 and has three children. After school, he joined the automobile industry working his way from salesman to manager to owner/operator of nine auto dealerships with 37 new car franchises in Kentucky, Ohio and Florida. During this period, he acquired approximately 2000 acres of WV farmland and developed a love for agriculture and livestock.
Upon retiring to the farm in 1995, he became interested in giving back to the public and joined Guyan Conservation District as a Supervisor. He is Vice President of Greater Kanawha RC&D, and on the Board of Solid Waste Authority. A large part of his agenda includes working with schools to promote agriculture and to reinstate FFA. Believing that education pays, during his working career, he funded educational scholarships for several university students.
He currently is President of Wayne County Farm Bureau as well as a Board Member of WV Farm Bureau. As such, he is able to pass along conservation programs and events to large numbers of people. He currently owns and operates his own farm, including several high tunnels, raising lots of healthy fruits and vegetables to promote community markets and healthy eating. He opened and operated several farmers markets, supplying a great amount of products from his own farm, with proceeds given to operate the markets. He has donated and constructed several high tunnels and greenhouses for West Virginia schools.
He has completed many conservation practices on his own farm and over the course of retirement, has assisted law firms as a consultant in issues of conservation and forestry. He is currently President of WVACD, Chairman of Guyan Conservation District and very active in District matters.
Dr. Eli McCoy
Eli McCoy received his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology and Master of Science degree in biological sciences from Marshall University before completing doctoral studies in aquatic ecology at the University of Louisville. He began a career in state government as a biologist with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources where, by 1985, he rose to the position of Deputy Chief of the Office of Water Resources. He eventually became the state's chief environmental regulator as Director of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. In 1997, he left state government to become Environmental Vice President with Potesta & Associates, Inc., a Charleston, West Virginia engineering and environmental consulting firm. His areas of specialization include permit negotiations, enforcement negotiations, environmental compliance, state and federal regulatory operations and aquatic ecology.
Dr. McCoy has served as president of the West Virginia Water Pollution Control Association; as chairman of the Ohio River Basin Commission; as a board member for the National Institute for Chemical Studies; on the West Virginia Infrastructure Council; as a member of the United States Environmental Protection Agency Common Sense Initiative, Iron and Steel Sector; and as commissioner of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.
Dr. McCoy was appointed to the West Virginia State Conservation Committee by former Governor Joe Manchin III in 2009.
Tom Warner is a native West Virginian, and his family has owned and operated farms in WV since it became a state.
After serving in the United States Army Reserve, Tom began his career with Elkins Distributing in 1965. He was hired as a driver/salesman and worked his way up to sales manager before buying the business in 1976. Tom was elected to the West Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association Board of Directors in 1988 and served on that board until 2007.
Tom was elected to the Tygarts Valley Conservation District Board in 2009, and he continues to serve in that position. He was recently appointed to the West Virginia State Conservation Committee by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Angie Rosser is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and restoration of West Virginia's exceptional rivers and streams. Angie has worked in West Virginia in the non-profit sector since 1995, developing a background in statewide policy, community organizing, coalition building and program administration.
She lives along the banks of the Elk River in Clay County. Her motivation for clean water advocacy is rooted in the belief that the conservation of our water resources is central to a shared prosperity.
Angie holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in Organizational Communication from West Virginia University.
State Conservationist, USDA-NRCS
Louis Aspey is the State Conservationist in West Virginia. In this role, he leads the implementation of programs that protect the environment, preserve natural resources and improve agricultural sustainability through voluntary, private-lands conservation.
Prior to this position, Louis served as the Chief of Staff for the Regional Conservationists in NRCS National Headquarters where he provided leadership on a wide array of policy and program issues.
Before coming to Washington, DC, Louis served in multiple leadership positions with NRCS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The majority of his 24-year career has been devoted to addressing complex natural resource challenges throughout West Virginia and Appalachia.
Louis is a native of southwestern Pennsylvania. He earned an undergraduate degree from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and a graduate degree in public administration from American University. Louis and his wife, Karen, live in Morgantown with their beloved dog Oatie.
Executive Director, USDA-Farm Service Agency
Roger Dahmer was appointed by the Trump Administration to serve as the state executive director of the West Virginia USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) in February 2018.
Dahmer's roots are from the farming country of Pendleton County, West Virginia, where he currently resides. He graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in agriculture.
He began his career with FSA's predecessor agency, the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) in 1986 as a county operations trainee. Over the next 32 years, he served as a county executive director in several county offices. Prior to his 2018 appointment, he served as the county executive director in the Pendleton County FSA office for 20 years.
Dahmer is a member of the West Virginia Farm Bureau. He is involved with his church in various roles including assistant teacher for adult Sunday school. He coached youth league soccer for 19 seasons and was the assistant soccer coach at the local high school for five seasons. He has served the local Boy Scout troop in various leadership capacities since 2001.
Dahmer and his wife, Pamela, have two sons and a daughter, along with a grandson and two granddaughters.