Veteran Education Series Wraps Up with Virtual Networking Series

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The first track of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s Veteran Education Training Series (V.E.T.S.) wrapped up last Thursday. The courses focused on agricultural business and entrepreneurship. The WVDA launched the series during the West Virginia Small Farm Conference in February.

“We are proud of everyone that made our first series a great success. From the instructors and students to the businesses and staff, it took a team to make this happen given the current situation. We look forward to the future of these series and the help they can bring to our agricultural businesses,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.

For the past nine weeks, every Thursday evening the V.E.T.S. held business start-up classes in conjunction with Unlimited Future, Inc. On April 30, the series finished with a virtual networking event between producers and business representatives from some of the top agricultural enterprises in the state. Speakers included:

  • Fritz Boettner, TURNROW Appalachian Farm Collective and WVU Food Systems Director
  • Lonnie Kelley, Food Lion Local Produce Sourcing Specialist
  • Melinda Francis, Office of Child Nutrition Coordinator
  • Annie Stroud, Project Manager for the Buzz Food Service Appalachian Abattoir
  • Tim Wiley, Refresh Appalachia
  • Lacy Ferguson, Elmcrest Farm co-owner and WVDA Southern West Virginia Planning Coordinator
  • Kacy Gantzer, WVDA Northern Panhandle Planning Coordinator
  • Nathan Bergdoll, WVDA Eastern Panhandle Planning Coordinator

For more information, contact Dane Gaiser at (304) 558-2210 or

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.