September 26, 2023

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $4.5 million to the West Virginia Agriculture Professionals’ Next Generation project, a West Virginia State University (WVSU) led project which aims to foster the next generation of diverse food and agriculture professionals and promote and support agriculture education and innovation. The project will be led by Dr. John Kessell, Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR) program leader at WVSU.

The Next Generation project will offer a range of opportunities for aspiring agriculture professionals, including paid experiential learning opportunities, scholarships, non-formal education activities and innovative recruitment and retention initiatives. The project also aims to help shape the future of agriculture in West Virginia and beyond.

“We are excited to unveil our Next Generation of WV Agriculture Professionals initiative,” Kessell said. “This NextGen program will prove to be beneficial in providing qualified graduates of WVSU to be prepared for the USDA workforce. The project will secure funding for 30 NextGen Scholars that covers tuition, room and board for each recipient while offering 1,500 hours of paid experiential learning in various USDA careers. By providing diverse, talented, and committed professionals with the tools and resources they need to succeed, we can help to create a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for our state and our country.”

=The project will offer immersive Food, Agriculture, Natural resources and Human science (FANH) internships throughout students’ post-secondary education with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and provide scholarships to students entering into FANH majors at WVSU.

Scholarships will also be awarded to students that have successfully completed the agriculture education completer program offered by the West Virginia Department of Education and endorsed by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

The NexGen program will also provide West Virginia Agriculture Education teachers throughout the state and later throughout the country with 17 completer curriculum courses. Each course will highlight USDA FANH careers while offering curriculum, assessments and lesson plans that teachers can use that will be aligned with state and national agriculture education standards.

For more information on the Next Generation project, please visit USDA’s website at

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