28 Feb

Morgantown, W.Va. –The West Virginia University Fire Service Extension reminds those attending house parties, concerts or other large gatherings that being aware is the best way to return home safely should an emergency occur.

According to Mark Lambert, program leader of the WVU Fire Service Extension, the most important thing to take to a party isn’t a potluck dish, beverage or present. It’s mindfulness.

“Getting in to a safety-first mindset isn’t hard — on the way in, take note of where multiple exits are,” he said. “People tend to move with the group in an emergency, and those brief mental notes can be a lifesaver in a situation such as an escalating fire.”

Being constantly aware of your surroundings is key when reacting to an emergency situation, Lambert added.

When entering a large gathering or party, be wary of obvious overcrowding, blocked or locked exits and situations that can lead to structural collapse, such as balconies or small porches with an excessive amount of people on them.

Disaster can strike at any time and not just in a fire-related emergency. When mass hysteria occurs, which is the imaginary fear of danger that can spread rapidly through large crowds, such as those at concerts, it can induce widespread panic and chaos.

According to Lambert, it’s key to remain calm for a safe exit from an emergency situation.

Smoke inhalation can easily disorient a person and their ability to think and act rationally. Remember that alcohol consumption magnifies the effects of carbon monoxide, which is very much present in a burning building. When escaping a burning building, never go back inside to retrieve personal belongings or to find people.

While it is important to know how to behave and react during an emergency, taking the necessary precautions to prevent these emergencies in the first place will reduce the risk of unnecessary stress and injury.

“Safety issues can exist in every situation. It’s a matter of being aware and prepared,” Lambert said. “Use common sense, know your local laws and plan ahead as a host.”

If hosting a large gathering or party, hosts should have pre-established rules and expectations for their guests that should include a smoking policy to prevent an unintentional fire caused by an improperly disposed cigarette butt.

Additionally, be cautious of open flames, such as lit candles and unattended cooking, as these can easily lead to an accidental fire.

Hosts should also be mindful of their respective city codes which outline the amount of people allowed in their residence at a single time. This information can be found at your city fire marshal’s office and may be included in an apartment lease or other official contract or document.

State-level fire codes applies outside city limits but does not apply to one-or two family dwellings.

However, if you are unsure of these codes, Lambert said it is best to rent a facility that can accommodate your gathering and is specifically designed to limit unnecessary risks for both you and your guests.

“Abiding by the rules put in place by the West Virginia Fire Commission is crucial,” he said. “Fire codes exist for a reason and are not made to curb fun, but to ensure the safety of everyone — we want to see everyone have fun while being safe.”

For general information and more tips on fire safety, contact the WVU Fire Service Extension at 304-269-0875 or visit



21 Feb

CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service Writer/Editor, 304.293.8701,

Morgantown, W.Va.—West Virginians 18 years or older can now apply for paid positions as AmeriCorps members for the award-winning West Virginia University Extension Service Energy Express program.

The annual initiative is an eight-week reading and nutrition program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities. Energy Express helps children entering kindergarten through sixth grade overcome the “summer slide” that occurs when youths fall behind academically during the summers in between school years.

According to John Lyonett, WVU Extension Service 4-H Energy Express interim director, volunteer assistance during the summer helps to make lifelong impacts on children who participate in Energy Express activities. In 2016 alone, participating children were served more than 122,500 meals, and 65.3 percent of participants maintained or increased reading achievement levels.

“This program has helped changed lives and provided support for thousands of children since its inception more than two decades ago,” said Lyonett. “By assisting us in the summer, applicants are helping to ensure our state’s youths are learning, eating well and having fun in a safe, secure environment during the summer.”

Applicants may serve through AmeriCorps as mentors or community coordinators and must be 18 years of age by June 9, 2017 to apply.

Mentor positions

Energy Express mentors must be college, or college-bound, students who are willing to help enhance children’s interests and skills by developing and implementing reading-related activities based on weekly themes. Mentors are also tasked with promoting the children’s nutritional well-being.

Mentors must complete a community service project based on the needs of the community in which they serve. In return for their 300 hours of service, mentors will receive a $1,850 summer living allowance and a $1,221 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award valid for up to seven years to pay for college tuition or loans.

Community coordinator positions

Energy Express community coordinators recruit volunteers to assist Energy Express children during reading, writing, art, drama and non-competitive recreation activities. Community coordinators also involve the community and family members in the participating children’s learning.

Community coordinators are also required to complete a community service project based on the needs of the community in which they serve. Community coordinators also receive a $1,850 summer living allowance and a $1,221 Segal AmeriCorps Education Award valid for up to seven years to pay for college tuition or loans in return for their service.

Applications for both positions are available online at, or by calling 304-293-3855. The selection process begins March 1. Applications are accepted until all positions are filled.

Energy Express is a program under the leadership of WVU Extension Service’s 4-H Youth Development program. This AmeriCorps program is funded, in part, by grants from the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and Volunteer West Virginia. Volunteer West Virginia encourages West Virginians of all ages and abilities to be involved in service to their communities.

In 2016, West Virginia’s Promise—The Alliance for Youth recognized the program as the Red Wagon Award recipient for its commitment to helping West Virginia youths learn and grow through summer initiatives. Based on the success of Energy Express participants and the unique aspects of the program, the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University named the Energy Express program one of the nation’s best summer learning programs in 2009.

For more information about Energy Express, visit, or call 304-293-3855.

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20 Feb

CONTACT: Sherry Kuehn, WVU Continuing Professional Education

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Do you or someone you love have diabetes? It is a growing problem in the United States, but the good news is that complications can be avoided by careful management of the disease.

To help people with diabetes take charge of their health, WVU Continuing Professional Education and WVU Extension Service are once again offering the popular online course “Dining with Diabetes,” beginning March 6.

Diabetes, which involves blood sugar levels, can be confusing and challenging.

According to the course instructor, Cindy Fitch, who is associate dean of programming and research at WVU Extension Service, uncontrolled diabetes creates changes in the body that can lead to serious complications, including blindness, lower leg amputation, kidney failure, sexual dysfunction and heart attack or stroke.

“That is the bad news, but the good news is that by learning self-management skills, people with diabetes can completely avoid these problems,” she said.

“One important aspect of self-management that people often overlook is to see their healthcare provider on a regular basis. Also, if you have a prescription for medicine, be sure to take it every day according to the instructions.”

She said other important self-management skills include planning meals for consistent carbohydrate intake, being physically active and checking your feet for sores.

“In general, people with diabetes need to be on a healthy diet that would be appropriate for anyone,” Dr. Fitch said. “However, since diabetes changes how the body handles carbohydrates, people with diabetes need to be more aware of how much carbohydrate they are eating and plan their meals to limit their carbohydrates to just the amount that they need.”

“Dining with Diabetes” will provide guidance on easy ways to manage carbohydrate intake, choosing nourishing foods that support heart health, balancing carbohydrate intake with physical activity and preparing healthier versions of favorite foods.

The course includes two modules for each week. The first module is written information about a specific topic with suggested activities, opportunities for reflection in an on-line journal and an ungraded quiz for participants to test their knowledge.

The second module is a short video cooking demonstration of some diabetes-friendly recipes, which can be downloaded and printed. Class participants can go through the modules at any time during the week that is convenient for them.

The course also includes interactions with Fitch, who is a registered dietitian, and with other participants in the course. This will allow everyone to get answers to their questions and to learn from each other.

“Participants in the course will be encouraged to ask questions, share ideas and connect with other people who have similar goals and struggles,” Fitch said.

“Being able to communicate, even in this format, will help us to support each other and learn from each other. Learning together can be more meaningful than learning alone.”

Cindy Fitch is a registered dietitian with more than 30 years of experience working with children and their families in community, clinical and academic settings. In 1999, she joined the Human Nutrition and Foods faculty at WVU. During that time, she taught undergraduate and graduate level nutrition courses, specializing in maternal and child nutrition. She joined the WVU Extension Service as a food and nutrition specialist in 2007.

“Dining with Diabetes” includes eight sessions and is available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cost is $99.

Registration is going on now and is available online at or by calling 1-800-253-2762, #3. Registration closes Friday, March 3.

WVU Continuing Professional Education provides a variety of professional and personal enrichment courses for the lifetime learner. For more information, see the website at or follow WVU CPE on Twitter at @WVUContinuingEd.



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14 Feb

CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service Writer/Editor, 304.293.8701,

Weston, W.Va.— Join friends at WVU Jackson’s Mill in celebrating the change in seasons at the WVU Jackson’s Mill Spring Buffet.

Featuring a fresh selection of meatloaf and tilapia, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, hot rolls, a salad bar and dessert, the buffet will be held Friday, March 3 from 4:30 to 7 p.m in the Mount Vernon Dining Hall at WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston, West Virginia.

Admission is $14 for adults and $7 for ages 4 to 12. Admission is free for children ages 3 and under.

No reservations are needed. Cash, check or credit card payments are accepted.

For questions about the events above, contact Karen Wilfong at 304-406-7011 or

WVU Jackson’s Mill is known for uniting youths from around the state during the summer months for WVU Extension’s 4-H camping season, and during the winter months becomes a festive and scenic event location for the people of West Virginia and their families.

To learn more about WVU Jackson’s Mill or for directions, call 1-800-287-8206 or visit

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2 Feb

Join West Virginia University Extension Service Jackson’s Mill for a celebratory President’s Day buffet.

The buffet will be held on Friday, Feb. 17 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Dining Hall in Weston, West Virginia.

The menu will include a pasta bar, hot rolls and garlic bread, broccoli and cheese, a salad bar and dessert.

Costs to attend the buffet include $14 for adults, $7 for children ages 4 to 12 and free admission for children age 3 and under. Guests can pay with cash, check or a credit card. Reservations are not needed.

For questions about the event, contact Chad Proudfoot at

WVU Jackson’s Mill is known for uniting youths from around the state during the summer months for WVU Extension Service’s 4-H camping season, and during the winter months becomes a festive and scenic event location for the people of West Virginia and their families.

To learn more about WVU Jackson’s Mill or for directions, call 1-800-287-8206 or visit



CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service

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31 Jan

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the thirteenth year, the West Virginia University Extension Service Small Farm Center is presenting the West Virginia Small Farm Conference to help agricultural producers around the state learn about making their operations more efficient, connected and profitable.

For either $70 per day or $190 for all three, producers can attend the annual offering at the Charleston Civic Center from Sunday, Feb. 12 through Tuesday, Feb. 14. Discounts are available for students and military veterans.

Organizers claim that it’s shaping up to be the largest and most successful conference yet, with more than 130 sessions spread out across three days taught by both industry professionals and local producers who have found their own paths to success.

“We really want to help West Virginia’s 22,000 small farm families develop a successful farming enterprise that’s a keystone of their local community and an important part of the state’s food system,” said Tom McConnell, program leader of the WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center. “Last year, we had roughly 750 people attend and 97 percent of them indicated they’d make plans to return again this year so that means we’ve got a successful, valuable education model.”

He added that no matter how large or small the farm, or experienced the farmer, attendees can broaden their knowledge on a variety of business practices, everything from animal production to specialty crops, agritourism to marketing.

Learning primarily takes place through in-depth classes and demonstrations on topics including producing, processing and marketing West Virginia farm products. However, there is ample time to network and mingle with fellow producers and for those in the industry to expand upon classroom experiences.

Conference-goers can also experience the Winter Blues Farmers Market, where producers from all over the state will gather to sell their winter-hardy food, goods and products. This free event is also open to the public and will include a dine-around where local chefs will offer pay-as-you-go dishes featuring locally grown and prepared entrees.

Taking place during the conference is also a trade show, a silent auction, a seed swap and the Great West Virginia J.Q. Dickinson-Salt Works Pop-Off — a popcorn competition that pits locally grown popping corn varieties against one another and attendees vote on a crowd favorite.

The conference is presented in part by the event sponsors, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the Capitol Conservation District and the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition.

To register, or for more information, schedule and course offerings, visit or call the Center at 304-293-2715.



24 Jan

The West Virginia University Extension Service has a new director of development. Abigail Esguerra began work Dec. 30, 2016.

The Parkersburg native has a wealth of experience in major gift solicitation; capital campaign management; donor stewardship; board, volunteer and staff management; special events; and grant writing. Prior to her most recent work in northern Virginia, Esguerra managed the capital campaign for the new United Hospital Center in Bridgeport. The planned eighteen month, $7,500,000 goal campaign raised more than $11,000,000 in just twelve months.

Esguerra admits that fundraising isn’t a typical career.

“It’s not like you grow up as a little girl who wants to ask people for money,” she laughed. “But I like helping organizations acquire the resources they need to do good work, and working with donors who want to invest in causes or their communities to find opportunities that are in line with their interests and values.”

Esguerra holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and communication studies from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and a master’s degree in communication studies from WVU. She says her new position with WVU Extension was just what she was looking for.

“It’s a perfect marriage of representing the university I love, and providing support for programs that impact the people of the state I love,” said Esguerra. “As I learn more and more about the good work WVU Extension does across the state, I’m anxious to provide the resources our faculty and staff need to enrich lives.”

“Abby has such a passion for West Virginia and WVU,” said Dean Steve Bonanno. “We are fortunate to find someone with her development experience. She’s busy meeting with the program units to determine their needs, and has already identified several campaigns to pursue. I am excited for the possibilities she brings to Extension Development.”

For more information on giving to WVU Extension Service programming, visit, or contact



23 Jan

Meet West Virginia 4-H’ers interested in higher ed and make connections with local and state leaders at WVU’s Day at the Legislature held March 28, 2017.

Centered around the theme of WVU’s 150th birthday, the event will showcase the vast educational opportunities available to the West Virginia youths through the state’s land grant mission.

The event is a great way for exhibitors to recruit and connect with hundreds of youths from all across the state.

Exhibitor Meeting

An informational exhibitor meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 4004 of the Agricultural Sciences Building on the WVU Evansdale Campus.

If you have questions or plan to attend this meeting, contact Robin Anderson at 304-293-4222 or


There are a number of ways to get involved in this year’s WVU Day at the Legislature. Click the link below to register as a(n):

  • Exhibitor – setting up your own display or exhibit during the event
  • Group – register students and guests to the event
  • Volunteer

The deadline to register is Tuesday, Feb. 28.

If you’re interested in attending WVU Day at the Legislature, please take a few moments to review our Exhibitor Guidelines for information on what to expect during the event.

We also have a section for frequently asked questions that you might find useful.


Call Lindsay Wiles at 304-293-9490 or email if you have any questions.

4 Jan

CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service, Writer/Editor, 304.293.8701,

Celebrate a piece of history at the West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill annual Stonewall Buffet.

The buffet will be held Friday, Jan. 20 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Mount Vernon Dining Hall.

The time-honored tradition honors the birthday celebration of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a Civil War general who lived and grew up at the Mill before leaving for West Point in 1842.

Menu items include a roast beef entrée, traditional sides, garden salad, homemade rolls and more.

Admission is $14 for adults, $7 for ages 4 to 12 and free for children ages 3 and under. No reservations are needed.

For questions about the event, contact Karen Wilfong at 304-406-7011 or

WVU Jackson’s Mill is known for uniting youths from around the state during the summer months for WVU Extension’s 4-H camping season, and during the winter months becomes a festive and scenic event location for the people of West Virginia and their families.

To learn more about WVU Jackson’s Mill or for directions, call 1-800-287-8206 or visit



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7 Dec

CONTACT: Brittany Dick, WVU Extension Service Writer/Editor, 304.293.8701,

Morgantown, W.Va.— Enhance your gardening and culinary skills with tips and resources offered in the 2017 West Virginia University Extension Service Garden Calendar, available now at county WVU Extension Service offices.

With the theme of “herb appeal,” the 2017 calendar brings herbs back into the spotlight with information suited for both gardening novices and seasoned green thumbs alike.

“Herbs represent more than a garnish or simple ingredient—they’re rooted in culinary tradition and provoke memories connected to the distinctive smell, taste and visual appeal that herbs offer,” said WVU Extension Service Director Steve Bonanno. “That’s where our theme came from, and our Extension experts are thrilled to help gardeners navigate through the seasons with tips, tricks and recipes that everyone can use.”

From seeds to the supper table, gardeners are walked step-by-step through the journey of planting and harvesting herbs in addition to getting daily advice about gardening tasks that the calendar classically offers.

The calendar also offers bonus materials and highlights that include growing advice, pest management tips and an herb varieties chart from WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources experts.

In the back of the calendar, WVU Extension Families and Health specialists offer recipes and tips centered around cooking with herbs and accentuating dishes with the fresh, vibrant tastes and colors herbs provide.

To access additional resources for the calendar, visit

To obtain a copy of the calendar while supplies last, contact your local office WVU Extension Service office. The phone numbers for each office are located online at

To learn more about gardening and healthy lifestyles, contact your local WVU Extension Service office or visit WVU Extension Service online at

Check daily for the latest news from the University.

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