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West Virginia not just a coal state

Though a few politicians would like us to believe West Virginians are by and large coal miners, the Mountain State has always been an agricultural state, too. We don’t often do enough to encourage young people to explore those career opportunities.

To that end, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., have announced a total of $1 million for a couple of agricultural workforce training options in the state.

One is a shared use kitchen internship and network project at West Virginia University that will strengthen workforce training at Pierpont Community and Technical College and Sprouting Farms’ Greenville Farm Kitchen by providing educational and training opportunities, internships and mentorships.

The rest is for Eastern Workforce Opportunity Regional Center and Services in Moorefield for its agriculture workforce development program, to develop an agriculture workforce in the Potomac Highlands region through hands-on learning experiences and mentorship opportunities.

Good. These are small steps toward strengthening a sometimes-forgotten workforce that is vital to our economy and wellbeing. They go hand-in-hand with the legislature’s passage this session of the West Virginia Farm Bill, which, among other things, establishes an Agriculture Investment Fund.

Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt speaks for us all when he says “we want to further develop ways to grow our agricultural economy in West Virginia.” It is nice to see our folks in Washington, D.C., are on board.

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