What’s Happening at the WV Agriculture & Forestry Hall of Fame?

Jeremy McGill, Assistant State Forester Logging & Water Quality, WV Division of Forestry, and President, WV Agriculture & Forestry Hall of Fame

AGFOR HOF Banquet Jacksons Mill

The West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame (WVAFHF) is proud to announce their 2024 inductees and will honor them with a banquet on Saturday, July 20 at Jackson’s Mill, WV. A reception will start at 5:00 p.m. with a dinner to follow at 6:00 p.m. Any who wish to attend should contact Rebecca Williams at (304) 825-6983.

“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 President Jeremy McGill. “Their work and dedication to advancing the science and the practice of Agriculture and Forestry and the 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 State because of his drive and enthusiasm for the sweet delicacy. He is the founding President of the WV Maple Syrup Producers 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. Going on to earn a BS in Dairy Science from WVU and a MS in Agriculture from NC State, he returned home to WV and end began a lifelong career of service. He has served in numerous agencies and boards, even 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 Sate College, he soon moved on to a teaching career in Marshall County that spanned generations. Going above and beyond he impacted the lives of so many young people by introducing them to Science and Agriculture. Some also know him for his work as an Auctioneer and service to the West Virginia Auctioneer’s Association or his community service across Marshall County and northern WV.

Carol Sue Miles, PHD (Morgantown, WV) A daughter of the mountain state, she went on to earn a BA from WVU and her Masters and a Ph.D. 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. A long career in Cooperative Extension just wasn’t enough though and she has gone on to touch lives internationally through her work with The Uganda Fund.

Ric MacDowell (Charleston, WV) Originally from Chester Pennsylvania, Ric came to WV after earning his Masters 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 even 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, eventually earning his MS. Eventually he ended up running his own one man corporation here in WV, where he became involved with the practical science of growing walnut for veneer production, starting an experimental planning at Blennerhassett Island State Park. Additionally, he and his son created a computer program which 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 went on to the WVU School of Forestry to achieve his BS in Forestry with a minor in Soil Sciences. He’s had a long career in Forestry, mostly in service to the State within the WV Division of Forestry. His career has spanned multiple programs, counties, and districts allowing him to help landowners all 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 this day 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 of Nicholas County, WV and former employee of the WV Division of Forestry. He is perhaps best known for being a pioneer in wildfire investigations in the State, bringing national knowledge from volunteer assignments all across the nation and adapting it for use here to help catch arsonists and to expand outreach and education efforts about the prevention of wildfires in our forests. Though he is retired today, he still maintains an active presence within the WV Christmas Tree Growers Association and the WV Forestry Association.

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. We appreciate the support and assistance of farm and forest families from across the state to promote leadership and outstanding efforts in farming and forestry!

Group Photo Ag & Forestry Hall of Fame 2023