Extension agents to contribute weekly columns

The West Virginia University Extension Service meets the changing lifelong learning needs of people, organizations, and communities by putting knowledge to work. WVU Extension agents and volunteers build and help sustain collaborations and partnerships with people and organizations in West Virginia, to improve their lives and communities.

WVU Extension programs and services strengthen leaders of all ages, youth and families. Extension educators develop and teach best practices for sustainable agriculture, for responsible use of renewable resources, and stewardship of natural resources. They also work to improve our state’s communities, workforce and the economy.

Randolph County has three WVU Extension Agents working in the areas of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Families and Health, and 4-H Youth Development. All three of these agents will begin to contribute to a weekly WVU Extension column. Here, we learn a little more about them – make sure to look for their articles every Saturday.

Ronnie Helmondollar is the WVU Randolph County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent. He grew up on a small farm in Rock, W.Va. in Mercer County. He attended Ferrum College in Ferrum, V.a. and graduated in 1989 with a B.S. in Agriculture. Ronnie received a master’s degree in animal science from WVU and began work as the extension agent in Taylor County in July 1991. In December 2002, he started working as the agriculture extension agent in Randolph County.

“Working with people is the greatest part of being an extension agent. Seeing folks take the information provided to them and using it to improve their situations is always a rewarding experience,” said Helmondollar.

Randolph County farmers market almost $8.2 million of farm products a year (USDA Ag. Census 2007). Livestock and their products account for 89 percent of that annual amount. Supporting farmers in the areas of livestock production and marketing is a large part of Ronnie’s responsibilities.

Youth agriculture programs are also an important part of the Randolph County and West Virginia 4-H programs. Ronnie provides support to both of those programs.

Ronnie notes, “I believe that not every youngster that participates in a youth agriculture program will grow up to become a farmer; however, I do hope that they will be productive members of society that have a true sense of where their food comes from and what it takes to produce it.”

Helmondollar is married to Lisa Loyd, DVM, (they met at a State 4-H camp at WVU Jackson’s Mill) and they are the proud parents of twin sons Matthew and James.

Amanda (Haller) Johnson is the WVU 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent for Randolph County. She received a BSC degree in psychology and family studies from Alderson Broaddus University, and a M.A. in Agriculture with an emphasis on Child Development from West Virginia University.

Prior to joining the Randolph County Extension Service, Johnson has worked as a 4-H program assistant for the Taylor County 4-H program, and as a squad leader and a case manager for the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy in Kingwood. In October of 2009, she was employed as the 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent for Randolph County. She has served Randolph County families and youths for the past four years through a number of programs.

Johnson teaches ATV Safety and proper hand washing and germ education to students in Randolph County schools. She serves as the county contact for Energy Express, assists with the organization of the Randolph County Fair Fourth-Grade Educational Day, and is on the state staff at 4-H Teen Leader Weekend and Alpha II State 4-H Camps. She directs two 4-H summer camps each year, oversees the Randolph County 4-H program, and works closely with 4-H leaders and volunteers planning and delivering 4-H events throughout the year.

Amanda enjoys working with youths and the 4-H program. She believes 4-H has a great deal to offer youths and the opportunities it provides are endless.

“This is my dream job,” said Johnson. “Seeing youths reach their full potential and then share their passions and knowledge is one of my greatest joys.”

Johnson lives in Elkins with her husband, Aaron. She looks forward to another fantastic 4-H year, which begins Oct. 1.

Hannah Fincham is the WVU Families and Health Extension Agent for Barbour and Randolph counties. She is a native of Randolph County and attended WVU, receiving a BS in Business Administration and a M.S. in Public Administration.

Prior to coming to Barbour and Randolph counties in 2012, Fincham worked for the WVU Extension Service as the families and health extension agent in Monongalia County since January 2009.

Hannah works for the well-being of families. Specifically, she covers the areas of food safety, food preservation, nutrition, cooking, diabetes education, healthy relationships and financial literacy. In addition to offering community programs in these topic areas, Fincham is the state advisor to the West Virginia Community Educational Outreach Service.

Fincham grew up participating in WVU Extension programs and attributes her love of Extension to those programs and the Extension Agents that delivered them, including Helmondollar.

“I truly believe in the mission and values of the WVU Extension Service, and it is a joy to involve youths and adults in our programs on a daily basis.”

Like Helmondollar, Fincham met her husband, Derek, at a State 4-H Camp at WVU Jackson’s Mill. They have one daughter, Eva, and reside in Beverly.

– You can reach Ronnie, Amanda, or Hannah at the WVU Randolph County Extension Service, 32 Randolph Avenue, Suite 102, Elkins, WV, 26241 by calling 304-636-2455.