West Virginia University Extension Service’s new Agritourism Initiative aims to help local farmers create and profit from farm-based tourism opportunities.

With the help of a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, WVU and industry experts will engage participants in a series of four, day-long training sessions in areas like risk management, marketing, hospitality management and business collaborations.

“Farmers are exploring agritourism and farm-based education as an opportunity to help diversify farm income and improve cash flows,” Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service agricultural economics specialist, said. “The challenge is the lack of education-specific resources and expertise to help them effectively evaluate this new opportunity.”

Organizers say the program will serve as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for agritourism resources, helping farmers navigate the risk management issues arising from agritourism activities.

“The program builds on the ‘entertainment’ value of agritourism, to include the overlooked ‘educational’ value, in response to consumer demand for understanding where their food and related products comes from,” Singh-Knights said.

The program is a collaboration between WVU Extension Service, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Division of Tourism and West Virginia State University.

Participants who successfully complete the course requirements are eligible for certification as a West Virginia Agritourism Initiative Business.

Classes are limited to 20 participants and registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost of the entire course is $40 and includes course materials, meals and snacks.

The classes are offered to the northern region at the WVU Agricultural Sciences Building in Morgantown on Nov. 1, Dec. 6, Jan. 10 and Feb. 7.

Residents in the southern part of the state can attend classes at the Emma Byrd Higher Education Center in Beaver. The class meets Nov. 8, Dec. 13, Jan. 17 and Feb. 14.

A third course option is available online. Participants in the online session work at their own pace to complete the course between Jan. 15 and March 30.

A spring capstone trip to Raleigh, North Carolina will be available to a limited number of participants who complete the course. Participants are responsible for paying for their lodging and some meals. Transportation and admissions fees are covered by grant funds.

To register or learn more about the course, visit anr.ext.wvu.edu/agritourism. The deadline to apply is Wed., Oct. 15.

Connecting the people of West Virginia to the University’s resources and programs is the primary goal of WVU Extension Service and its 55 offices throughout the state. Local experts, like WVU Extension’s agents and specialists, work to help improve the lives and well-being of youths, workforces, communities, farms and businesses through trusted research in the counties in which they serve.

To learn more about WVU Extension programs, visit www.ext.wvu.edu, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.



CONTACT: Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service
304.293.6131, Dosingh-knights@mail.wvu.edu

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