Volume 1| August 2020
To provide for and promote the protection and conservation of our soil, land, water and related resources for the health, safety, and general welfare of the state's citizens.
August 2020 News and Updates
Who are we and what do we do? 
Watch our video, CONSERVATION MATTERS, to learn about the history of conservation across the United States and how the West Virginia Conservation Agency is protecting our natural resources and communities in West Virginia. 

10 with Conservation Services recognized for Forage and Grassland Certification
Ten specialists with the WVCA’s Division of Conservation Services are now recognized as Certified Forage and Grassland Professionals, as awarded by the American Forage and Grassland Council.

This spring, conservation specialists Russell Kidwell, Mike McMunigal, Sigrid Teets, Barbie Elliott, Amy Henry, Caitlin Black, Russell Young, John Nelson and Kaitlyn Murphy completed the certification.

They join Conservation Specialist Dennis Burns, who has held the certification for several years.

WVCA Essential Work Continues

As the State of West Virginia responds to COVID-19, essential work has continued at the West Virginia Conservation Agency in the spring and summer of 2020.

Link below: Watch the video that highlights a key part of essential work at the WVCA: monthly dam inspections.

Urban Agriculture Spotlight: 
Charleston's "Hillside Gardener," Master Sgt. David Whanger
Master Sgt. David Whanger has traveled around the world as a United States Air Force airman, but he always looks forward to returning to his West Side home in Charleston, W.Va., where he has created a healthy urban ecosystem using conservation-based practices.

A generational grower, Master Sgt. Whanger has created a line of defense against soil loss by using natural filters, while producing both food and flora and reducing his carbon footprint with a no-waste system.

Monroe County robotics team helping in the fight against COVID-19
Photo: Cade McMunigal holds a box of completed face shields in his father’s garage.

It’s not cheap being a successful robotics team.

There are travel costs getting to competitions, hotel rooms, and tournament entrance fees.

But the teenagers on the “MCubed” robotics team in Monroe County have been fortunate in the backing they’ve received locally.

“It’s unreal the level of support that this community has given these kids,” said Mike McMunigal, the Conservation Services Manager South for the WVCA. Mike has served as a five-year mentor for the Monroe County, WV FIRST Robotics FTC Team.

Fundraising projects or requests from a local Lions Club or Ruritan Club don’t go unanswered, he said, and businesses like Collins Aerospace have offered invaluable help.

So when it came time to give back to their community, students on the robotics team like Ian Jackson and Cade McMunigal, Mike’s son, jumped at the opportunity to use 3-D printers to create headbands for face shields. “Personal protective equipment” like face shields are now in high demand, as they’re needed by health-care professionals while combating COVID-19.

If you build it, they will come!
Solitary bees are nature's providers. To encourage pollinators to nest locally, consider building a bee house with a variety of tunnels and chambers.

Bee houses provide a safe habitat for pollinators that help you grow your garden. These bee houses can be quite elaborate and others very simple and made from up-cycled materials such as bamboo, wood, cardboard or even soup cans.

Something to remember is that the effectiveness of these structures will depend on proper maintenance.

Mismanaged bee houses can become a host for pathogens and mites which build up in the nesting material over time. When choosing to design and build or purchase a manmade bee house, just be aware it’s not a “set it and forget it” project. Species have different needs: Some high up, some low down and even underground, so keep this in mind if you are hoping to attract a specific bee for your plantings.

Use a visual discovery engine, such as Pinterest, to find great ideas using recycled materials that will spark your imagination!

For more information on pollinator programs offered by the WVCA, contact Aimee Figgatt at afiggatt@wvca.us.

To receive a free native plant pollinator seed pack, fill out our online form:
The West Virginia Agricultural Enhancement Program is kicking off many new programs across the state
Through the Agricultural Enhancement Program (AgEP) the conservation districts select practices that meet the conservation needs in their area. The geography and type of agriculture varies significantly in WV, so maintaining this flexibility in the program is very important.

There are areas of the state with limited “traditional” agriculture but districts are able to serve those more urban and suburban areas through the urban ag practice, as an example. 

Other areas of the state have more crop-based or pasture-based agriculture, so practices and funding can be targeted to address those specific needs. The state program doesn’t limit based on farm size, and districts have flexibility in establishing the payment rates and practice criteria in order to make it fit for their area.

Jennifer Skaggs
Conservation Services Division Director

AgEP Best Management Practices and Accomplishments
Livestock that have access to streams contaminate the water with their manure and urine. But perhaps even worse, when they enter and exit a stream their hooves loosen soil from the banks, causing erosion and sediment that pollute the aquatic ecosystem. Fencing livestock - especially cattle - out of streams and rivers is vital to restoring and preserving the aquatic ecosystem and ensuring cleaner streams.

Conservation Specialist Barbie Elliott assisted Eastern Panhandle Conservation District cooperators with an exclusion fence that protects water quality and helps to prevent erosion in streams along cattle pastures.

Pictured below: (L) Cattle in a stream before exclusion fence (R) Improvements after exclusion fencing
Urban Agriculture and
Pollinator Planting

By Caitlin Black, Conservation Specialist
Guyan Conservation District

Urban agriculture provides a safe, healthy and green environment for growing fruits and vegetables in an urban setting. This program provides cost-share assistance to cooperators who may live in an urban setting the chance to grow and produce food that could feed themselves and their families. 

The Pollinator Habitat program provides multiple benefits to native pollinators on West Virginia farms. Pollinators in West Virginia include butterflies, flies, moths, bees, beetles, bats, and birds. Establishing and maintaining native plant habitats will attract pollinators and beneficial insects that prey on crop pests and could reduce the use of pesticides on the farm.

Tuning Up Your Public Speaking for Conservation

NASCA Training Webinar

Join the National Association of State Conservation Agencies for a public speaking training webinar with two outstanding public speaking trainers.

Matthew Lohr, served as the 16th Chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service and nationally recognized motivational speaker Randy Frazier, President of Leadership Takes Courage / Frazier Communications, Inc.

 August 15th is National Honey Bee Day!

What a great time to learn about honey bees and providing them with a supportive environment.

When we plant native wildflowers, orchards, and other flowering plants, we support pollinators such as honey bees.

Conversely, we depend on honey bees for our survival!

Announcement from USDA regarding seeds from China:
If you or someone you know has received an unsolicited package of seeds with a suspicious label, take these steps:

2) DO NOT throw them away.
3) DO NOT plant them.
4) Keep all packaging and labels together. If the packaging is damaged or open in some way, place all pieces together in a Ziploc or similar bag.

Follow the link below for the full statement from the USDA:
West Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay
The West Virginia Chesapeake Bay Partnership is proud of the ongoing efforts our stakeholders are involved in to clean up our local waterways and the Bay. Here you will find a range of useful, engaging, and hopeful stories about our work, and conservation issues in the forefront. Please check back often as we showcase our efforts.

Sunset in Tucker County

Submit a photo to be featured in our e-newsletter. Please email a high resolution copy to afiggatt@wvca.us

Photos must be taken in West Virginia.
Connect with WVCA Partners