September 27, 2023

INSTITUTE, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture has allocated $4.5 million in funding to the West Virginia Agriculture Professionals’ Next Generation project, a venture spearheaded by West Virginia State University (WVSU).

The project’s primary goal is to cultivate the next generation of diverse food and agriculture professionals while fostering innovation and education in the field. Dr. John Kessell, the Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR) program leader at WVSU, will lead the project.

The Next Generation project encompasses a wide range of opportunities for aspiring agriculture professionals, including paid experiential learning programs, scholarships, non-formal education activities, and pioneering recruitment and retention initiatives.

Moreover, the project aims to shape the future of agriculture not only in West Virginia but also beyond its borders.

“We are thrilled to introduce our Next Generation of WV Agriculture Professionals initiative,” stated Kessell. “This NextGen program will prove beneficial in equipping qualified WVSU graduates for the USDA workforce. The project will secure funding for 30 NextGen Scholars, covering their tuition, room and board, while offering them 1,500 hours of paid experiential learning in various USDA careers. By providing diverse, talented, and dedicated professionals with the necessary tools and resources, we can contribute to the creation of a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for our state and our country.”

The Next Generation project will provide immersive Food, Agriculture, Natural resources, and Human science (FANH) internships to students throughout their post-secondary education in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Additionally, scholarships will be awarded to students entering FANH majors at WVSU.

Scholarships will also be granted to students who successfully complete 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 offer 17 completer curriculum courses to West Virginia Agriculture Education teachers across the state and eventually nationwide.

Each course will emphasize USDA FANH careers and provide teachers with aligned curriculum, assessments, and lesson plans in accordance with state and national agriculture education standards.

The project enjoys the support of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more detailed information on the Next Generation project, please visit the USDA’s website at

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