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.
Darrell W. Donahue
Dean, WVU Davis College
Darrell W. Donahue is the dean of the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and director of the West Virginia Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
Prior to joining WVU, Donahue was director of the Institute of Water Research as well as professor and chair of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University. From 2012 - 2015, he was at Maine Maritime Academy where he was vice president of Operations and Research Director. Donahue began his academic career in 1996 at the University of Main where he moved through the academic ranks to professor of chemical engineering and associate director of the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute.
His previous research has a broad spectrum and background. Throughout his career, he has focused on process operations efficiency improvement, near-infrared spectroscopy, and risk assessment. Donahue currently serves as a member of the United Nations International Commission on the Microbiological Specifications for Foods and as an expert on WHO/FAO panels in food safety and defense. He continues to consult with several federal government agencies in the area of risk assessment and its evaluation. In these risk assessment venues, Donahue contributes his expertise to the exposure assessment and dose response portions of risk assessment modeling process as well as contributing his strengths in industrial statistics and Monte Carlo simulation and modeling.
Jorge H. Atiles, Ph.D.
Dean, WVU Cooperative Extension Service
As Dean of Extension and Engagement and director of the WVU Extension Service, Jorge Atiles develops and executes a positive vision that supports and advances the comprehensive land-grant mission of WVU in all of West Virginia's 55 counties.
An innovative and dynamic leader, Dr. Atiles is committed to furthering WVU's mission of teaching, scholarship and engagement through strategic action, while creating opportunities associated with the diverse programs in the Extension Service. He is focused on strengthening communities by working collaboratively with key partners to expand outreach and programming opportunities that address the needs of West Virginians.
In addition to his role with WVU Extension Service, Dr. Atiles holds a faculty appointment as professor in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
Dr. Atiles previously served as associate dean, Extension, engagement and continuing education for the Colleges of Education, Health, Aviation and Human Sciences at Oklahoma State University. During his 10-year career there, he served as coordinator of the University Network on Community Engagement and assistant director of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service-Family and Consumer Sciences State Program Leader. He also served as a professor in the Design, Housing and Merchandising department for the College of Human Sciences.
Prior to Oklahoma State, he served in various roles at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, including associate dean for outreach and Extension in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, professor in the Housing and Consumer Economics Department, and assistant professor and Extension specialist for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Before his academic career, Dr. Atiles worked in city and county government managing federally funded housing programs in the Department of Human and Economic Development, Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. He also worked in the banking industry with the Dominican Republic's National Housing Bank
Dr. Atiles completed his doctorate in Housing, Interior Design and Resource Management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His dissertation topic was "Manufactured Housing: An Assessment of Community Attitudes." He completed his master's degree in urban and regional planning from the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He received his bachelor's degree in architecture from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena, Dominican Republic.
Charles Tom Cover
State Forester, WV Division of Forestry
Tom Cover, Director/State Forester of the West Virginia Division of Forestry, was born and raised in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. After earning an Associate of Arts degree in forestry from Potomac State College, Director Cover continued his education by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University. Director Cover and his wife, Connie, spent a large part of their early years together in Petersburg, where they raised two children, Matthew and Jennifer, before relocating to their current hometown of Lewisburg in 1995.
Director Cover is a seasoned forester with more than 40 years of experience. He started his career in 1976 with the West Virginia Division of Forestry as a CETA forester, a program designed to attract new foresters and provide necessary experience to obtain gainful employment in the forestry field. In 1977, Tom became a procurement/logging forester with Allegheny Wood Products (AWP) where he worked his way through the ranks, eventually being chosen as one of AWP's plant managers. In 1994, Tom accepted a position with Georgia-Pacific as a forest resource area manager. After several years with Georgia-Pacific, Tom resigned from his position as an area manager to accept a leadership role with the Division of Forestry in 2002. During his time in private industry Director Cover was an active member of several organizations affiliated with forestry. Most notably, he was an active member of the West Virginia Forestry Association (WVFA) for nine years during which time he not only served on the WVFA Board, but also served a term as its vice-president.
Prior to being appointed by Governor Jim Justice to serve as West Virginia's State Forester, Director Cover served on the Leadership Team for the Division of Forestry as a regional forester for nearly two decades. In his position as a regional forester, Director Cover was responsible for administering and overseeing forestry programs in an eight-county region in the southeast portion of the State. As a longtime member of the Division's Leadership Team, Director Cover served on numerous committees and workgroups charged with recommending systematic changes designed to ensure employee safety; promote the forest-products industry; protect the State's natural resources; and streamline administrative processes to maximize the Division's limited resources while minimizing costs.
Cabinet Secretary, Division of Environmental Protection
Ward recently served as the WVDEP's Deputy Secretary of Operations and Director of the Division of Mining and Reclamation (DMR), where he oversaw all operational components of the WVDEP, as well as the agency's mining regulatory program.
After earning his bachelor's degree in biology from West Virginia University, Ward started his career in state government in 1989 as an Inspector-in-Training with what is now known as the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). After a brief, six-month tenure with the WVDNR, he transferred to the state Division of Energy as a Surface Mining Reclamation Inspector-in-Training.
After the Division of Energy was incorporated into the WVDEP in 1991, Ward continued his career in DMR and was assigned to the agency's Logan office. There, he advanced from Inspector to Inspector Specialist to Inspector Supervisor, before serving as the Deputy Director ofDMR in 2011. Ward was promoted to Director ofDMR in 2013.
In 201 7, Ward was asked to take on additional duties within the agency and oversaw the WVDEP's Division of Land Restoration. That role was expanded in 2018 to include all WVDEP operations.
Northen Panhandle Conservation District Supervisor
Britney Hervey-Farris is a farmer in Brooke County, W.Va. In 2013, she and her husband Charlie began Family Roots Farm. As young and beginning farmers, they benefitted through the Northern Panhandle Conservation District, the WVU Extension Service, the West Virginia Conservation Agency, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and Annie's Project, which provided them with educational and financial resources to grow their small farm and apply conservation practices.
Through education from these agencies, Britney applied what she learned to their small farm, which began with 1 acre of sweet corn and 40 maple taps. In eight years, Family Roots Farm has grown to 5 acres of vegetable production, including you-pick strawberries, two high tunnels, 1,000 maple taps, sweet sorghum production, and several agritourism events. They have grown and improved their land and conservation efforts through fencing, spring development, irrigation systems, high tunnels, soil amendments, cover cropping, reverse osmosis and solar panels.
The family's hard work through Family Roots Farm has been acknowledged at the local, state and international level, including: 2019 hosting Nuffield Scholars; 2017 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year runner-up; Britney was recognized at the State Fair of West Virginia as a Woman in Agriculture in 2017; a 2016 proclamation from the governor for efforts in the first Mountain State Maple Days, and, in 2015, Family Roots Farm won first place for their maple sugar at the International Maple Syrup Association.
Britney became a Conservation District Supervisor with the Northern Panhandle Conservation District in 2018 with a goal of helping other farmers in the district apply conservation practices to their farms, including helping non-traditional farmers and providing education to those underserved. Britney believes conservation is for all - traditional and non-traditional farmers, urban agriculture practitioners, and backyard gardeners.
Britney resides on the 245-year-old family homestead with Charlie and their two children, Grady and Mylah Ann.
Donnie R. Tenney
President, WV Association of Conservation Districts
Donnie Ray Tenney was raised on a small diverse farming operation in Tallmansville, Upshur County West Virginia. He attended West Virginia University and West Virginia Wesleyan College and is a Vietnam Veteran. He served 18 years as Upshur County Commissioner and is the Owner/Operator of Appalachian Acres Incorporated for 50 years – Landscaping and Horticulture business. He is a recipient of the West Virginia Agriculture Achievement Award and is the 2001 Innovation winner. Tenney currently serves on his fifteenth year as Tygarts Valley Conservation District Supervisor.
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.
Timothy is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics. He earned his M.S. Degree in Career and Technical Education in 2008. Timothy is a member of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Organization where he has served as an alumni board member since 2010 and served as president from 2014-2016.
In 2008, Timothy was elected conservation district supervisor for Pocahontas County, Greenbrier Valley Conservation District. He has served as 2nd vice-president, 1st vice-president and president of the West Virginia Association of Conservation Districts, and is currently the WVACD Legislative Committee Chairman. Timothy is an agent for the West Virginia Insurance Company.
Timothy has been a farmer all his life. He resides on a 280-acre farm in southern Pocahontas County, and also farms an additional 50 acres.
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.
Jon grew up in Lee, Mass., in the same house his parents and sister still reside. He graduated from Morehead State University in Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science and agricultural business. Jon began his career with the SCS in 1988 as a Soil Conservationist in eastern Kentucky, after which he held the same position in Connecticut. In July 1992 he was selected to become the District Conservationist in Marietta, Ohio. He stayed in that position for almost 24 years. During his time as DC, Jon also served for 18 years as a lead instructor for the NRCS National Employment Development Center, where he taught approximately 75 management and interpersonal-related classes throughout the county to assist with employee development. He also helped develop similar courses for NEDS. Jon served on numerous state and national committees that were related to employee development or field office operations improvement, as well as numerous acting capacities throughout Ohio.
Jon became the acting Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations and Area Resource Conservationist in Ohio Area III in 2017 before he was selected as ASTC-FO for Ohio Area III in 2018. In FY 2020, Jon served as ASTC-FO for both Area II & Area III in Ohio. He also served as Ohio's acting State Conservationist for four months in 2020. Jon was selected as the State Conservationist for West Virginia and began his duties on Sept. 14, 2020.
Jon's wife Crysta is a native of West Virginia and they, along with their youngest son, Caden (16), are looking forward to relocating to the Morgantown area. Their other children are Josh (32), Traci (30), Brett (26) Alex (25), and Kensley (22). In his spare time Jon enjoys comedy, live music, vacations, the New England Patriots, and the Boston Celtics.
USDA-Farm Service Agency
John Perdue started his public service career with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture as a pesticide inspector. During his time there he held several positions, including the title of Assistant Commissioner. In 1989, he became the Executive Assistant to former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, and served as a member of his executive staff for eight years.
Mr. Perdue was elected as the 24th State Treasurer of West Virginia in 1996 and served six terms. Perdue is the only West Virginia State Treasurer to serve as president of the National Association of State Treasurers. As State Treasurer he established the SMART 529 college savings plan to help West Virginians pay for college. When he left office the program had grown to over three billion dollars with more than 150,000 families invested in the program.
John is a 1972 graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor's of Science in Agriculture. He grew up on a small family farm in Boone County where they grew tobacco and small fruits and vegetables. While still in high school, John established a peddling route selling produce to save money for college. He was active in 4-H and FFA where he became a 4-H All Star and earned his state FFA farmers degree. He credits his time in 4-H and FFA for his love of farming. John and his wife Robin reside in Cross Lanes, West Virginia and have two adult daughters.