Foundation’s Farm to Table Dinner a Success

Fundraising event raised money for scholarships and featured local agricultural products

MOOREFIELD, W.Va. – The Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College Foundation held its Farm to Table dinner at the end of June, and the event featured a variety of the region’s agricultural products and producers, while also raising money to support students at the community college.

The dinner is the college foundation’s largest fundraising event each year. Rob Burns, director of nonprofits at Eastern, said preliminary figures indicate this year’s Farm to Table dinner raised more than $4,100 for student scholarships at Eastern. “It was an amazing event,” Burns said. “The Farm to Table was able to generate funds for scholarships for the students in our academic and workforce programs. Without the attendees, volunteers, food staff, support of the Event Barn, and all of the other local support by businesses and individuals, this evening would not have been possible. I am humbled by the support and cannot wait to get these funds working for the college’s students.”

Members of the foundation are Steve Taylor, president; Joe Miller, vice-president; Della Davis, secretary-treasurer; Jonathan Brill, Jordan Fenner, Greg Greenwalt, Anne Jones, Rick Smith, Liz Warner, Kelly Williams, Rob Woy, and Angie Zirk.

This year, the Farm to Table dinner moved to a new location, the Misty Mountain Event Barn in Fisher. Previously the dinner had been held outdoors at a local farm. The indoor venue allowed the Foundation to expand some of the evening’s activities and features for dinner guests. In addition to the four-course meal prepared by highly decorated chef Todd Seligman and his team, guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres at the Farm Fellows reception before the dinner, learned about the regional MakerSpace project through technology demonstrations with project leader Maya Paul, browsed and made bids on a large selection of silent auction items, enjoyed a live auction led by auctioneer Michael Thomas, and cheered individuals and groups who were recognized for various agricultural efforts.

It was an amazing event. The Farm to Table was able to generate funds for scholarships for the students in our academic and workforce programs.

– Rob Burns, director of nonprofits at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College

Many of the producers who provided the farm products used by Chef Seligman to create the meal were also in attendance at the event and recognized. Producers were Rick Woodworth and family, Cheryl Hott, Cindy Jenks, Ed Morgan, Richard Hamilton, Scott and Becky Rightsell, Sara Kanamine, Megan Thompson-Moore, and Trish Uptain.

Twenty-one silent auction items were donated as part of the dinner’s fundraising activities, which raised $2,000 for designated scholarships or program support funds managed by the foundation. Raffle proceeds for two special Potomac Highlands Producers food boxes generated $850. Live auction items, which raised $1,500, included standard Potomac Highlands Producers food boxes, additional food items, and benches that could be dedicated in memory of or in honor of individuals or groups selected by the winning bidders.

One bench was singled out by auctioneer Michael Thomas to be dedicated in memory of Joe Mathias, a longtime farmer from Old Fields, whom Thomas lauded as a mentor to many in the area’s agriculture community. Thomas’ memories centered on his annual encounter with Mathias at the Tri-County Fair livestock show barn. “I had a photo taken with him every year, from age 8 to 18,” Thomas recalled. Bids on that bench were added together to secure the dedication in memory of Mathias.

During the dinner, Carissa Beard, Eastern’s director of agriculture innovation, introduced David Workman, the longtime Hardy County extension agent, now retired, who is serving as a county commissioner. Workman, who also is working as Eastern’s agribusiness coach for the Farm Fellowship program, was given Eastern’s inaugural Friend of Agriculture award, presented by Farm Credit of the Virginias, in recognition for his many decades of service to the region’s agricultural producers. After the award presentation, Workman said, “I am honored to receive Eastern’s first Friend of Agriculture recognition. Eastern’s commitment to extending learning of the science of agriculture to traditional and non-traditional students is wonderful. Their many partnerships with the community are helping to accomplish this. Thanks to Eastern and to Farm Credit of the Virginias for their support of our community and this award.”

David Workman (from left) stands with Greg Mitchell of Farm Credit of the Virginias, Alex Smith of WVU Extension, and Carissa Beard and Megan Webb, both of Eastern, after Workman was recognized as a “Friend of Agriculture” award recipient.

Farm Fellows were also recognized as part of the evening’s activities. The Farm Fellowship program, supported by an Agriculture Workforce Training Award from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, offers an in-depth intensive agricultural training experience that combines classroom training with hands-on practical experience and mentoring. 2022 Farm Fellows are:

  • James Capel, ag workforce interest track certification, agribusiness diversification, mentored by Alex and Brad Smith.
  • Haylin Cook, ag workforce interest track, livestock systems mentored by Cheryl Hott.
  • Deanna Hemus, ag workforce agribusiness diversification interest track, mentored by Sam Williams.
  • Maggie Parsons, ag workforce agribusiness diversification interest track, mentored by Marsha Waybright.
  • Shenae Frazier, livestock and agribusiness interest track, mentored by Alex and Brad Smith.
  • Isabella Wood, ag workforce livestock systems interest track, mentored by Richard Hamilton.
  • Jane Halterman, ag workforce horticulture systems interest track, mentored by Miriam Leatherman.
  • Lacen Matheny, agribusiness interest track, mentored by Jerry and Melanie Ours.
Farm Fellows and mentors who completed the Farm Fellows program were recognized at the dinner. Dean Megan Webb stands at the rear of the group that included (from left) Trish Halterman, Carissa Beard, Farm Fellow Jane Halterman with her mentor Miriam Leatherman, Farm Fellow Lacen Matheny with her mentor Melanie Ours, and Rob Burns.

In addition, Jane Halterman and Lacen Matheny, as well as mentors Miriam Leatherman and Melanie Ours, received awards for having completed the Fellows program.

Recent Eastern graduate Shayla Hartman, RN, recounted her educational journey to dinner guests and stressed how Eastern’s small size and personal attention was a critical part of her academic success.

Megan Webb, Ph.D., dean of advancement and continuing education at Eastern, also recognized Patricia “Trish” Halterman, coordinator of the Farm Fellow and Ag Workforce Training programs at the college. “Trish, we hope you accept this token of our appreciation, and we thank you for always going the extra mile,” Webb said as she presented Halterman with a plaque.

The dinner also featured recent Eastern graduate Shayla Hartman, AAS Nursing, who was introduced by Thomas Striplin, Ed.D, president of Eastern. Hartman reprised her recent graduation address, prefacing her remarks by explaining that the college Foundation and foundation donors were important in supporting students at the college. Her speech recounted her struggles at a different college, and how Eastern’s small size and personal attention from staff and instructors helped her refocus and achieve. She ended with an update on her career since graduating in May; she had just taken the NCLEX exam, which is required for licensure as an RN, and she had passed the exam and was starting her first job as a nurse the following week.

In her remarks, Webb recognized the efforts of Burns and Jennifer Rexroad, both with the college’s Foundation, in coordinating the event, and thanked the many sponsors and supporters who made the Farm to Table Dinner a success: Farm Credit of the Virginias, Misty Mountain Event Barn, the Potomac Highlands Producers Co-op, the farmers behind each product included with the meal, table and event ticket buyers, and the donors of the auction items.

At the close of the event, Webb also asked guests to reserve the date for next year’s dinner on their calendars – June 28, 2023, at the Misty Mountain Event Barn.