WVU Extension Service experts offer farmers advice for managing dwindling hay supplies

For many farmers across West Virginia, an abundance of wet weather in 2018 has created concern for a potential shortage of hay, which farmers will use to feed livestock through spring 2019. West Virginia University Extension Service Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialists Ed Rayburn and Kevin Shaffer have provided a few management options available to help concerned farmers stretch their resources and keep their herds healthy.

Monday’s West Virginia earthquake rare in magnitude, likely a natural occurrence

A rare earthquake between Lewisburg and Beckley Monday (March 4) is only one of 25 that were larger than a magnitude 2.5 in the past 40 years, according to a West Virginia University expert. Because of its depth and location, Monday’s event is likely a natural occurrence unlike earthquakes of a similar magnitude in Braxton County in 2010-2011, said Jaime Toro, professor of geology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

WVU researcher joins global tobacco control symposium

West Virginia University professor Linda Alexander has focused her work on populations that have not benefitted equally from efforts in tobacco control, including tobacco cessation, education and prevention. This week, she joins researchers from around the world for “Tobacco Control for All: Addressing Smoking Disparities for Priority Populations” in San Francisco.

WVU experts weigh in on education overhaul bill

West Virginia University education expert Erin McHenry-Sorber believes SB451, which allows for charter schools and Education Savings Accounts, is “curious legislation” for West Virginia, a state that has, since 2007, underfunded its public education system, and had the deepest cuts of any state in the 2017-2018 academic year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Additionally, assistant professor Matthew Campbell notes that charter schools have lower standards for teachers, meaning those schools would house some of the least qualified teachers in the state.

Education overhaul bill may bring hard choices to rural counties

The debate over SB 451, which promotes charter schools and vouchers in West Virginia, while offering teachers raises, has centered around choice and parents’ ability to send their children to school where they want. Passage of the bill in the state senate prompted an immediate response from teachers who voted to strike in the anniversary week of a landmark court decision which held education is a fundamental right. A West Virginia University expert believes the arguments miss an important provision of the bill — a “deceptively modest change” that would allow county school boards to increase property taxes with voter approval.

Biotechnology can be used to combat forest pests and diseases

Biotechnology provides opportunities to restore native species that are threatened by insect pest or pathogen outbreaks. In some cases the resistant trees may be intentionally released into the wild where they could proliferate with minimal human intervention, thus raising issues that are fundamentally different from those encountered in agricultural biotechnology. More research is needed on the ability of the existing tree population to adapt and efforts to enhance resistance with biotechnology should be integrated with breeding programs for the target trees.

Coal mining dangers remain 50 years after Coal Mine Safety and Health Act, subsequent mine disasters

Nearly 50 years after the passage of the federal Coal Mine Safety and Health Act, significant occupational dangers for coal miners remain. As the anniversary of the Sago Mine Disaster approaches, and on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Farmington Mine Disaster, Michael McCawley from the West Virginia University School of Public Health notes black lung cases are on the rise and silicosis diagnoses persist. His research has been inspired by these and other mine tragedies in an effort to make coal mines safe and healthy places to work.