Student finalists to vie for state agriculture championship

Students from Barbour, Clay, Marshall and Upshur counties have been named finalists in the fifth annual West Virginia Agriculture Technology & Innovation Student Competition sponsored by the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University and a group of statewide partners. The students placed first in each of six categories and will received $100 prizes.

They will compete Dec. 18 for the grand prize at the West Virginia Agriculture Innovation Showcase in Huntington. The grand champion will receive $500 and the assistance of a business coach in developing an idea into a commercially-viable venture.

The category winners are:

  • Charity Coleman and Shayna Bennett, Clay County High School – Agribusiness Systems
  • Katie Nolan, Buckhannon-Upshur High School – Animal Systems
  • Tyler Lough, Brennen Humphrey, and Joseph Tanner, Clay County High School – Environmental and Natural Resources
  • Savanna Garrison, Sherrard Middle School – Food Products & Processing Systems
  • Kendra Spotloe and Ashlee Huffman, Buckhannon-Upshur High School – Plant Systems
  • Luke Farnsworth and Marissa Schiefelbein, Philip Barbour High School – Power, Structure & Technical Systems

Category winners were announced Nov. 21 during the West Virginia Agriculture Innovation Showcase in Moorefield. The showcases and student competition are sponsored by RCBI, Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia Department of Education.

“More than 180 students from across the state entered this year’s competition,” said Bill Woodrum, coordinator of Agricultural Innovations and director of entrepreneurship at RCBI. “We welcome members of the public to join us Dec. 18 in Huntington to see the latest agricultural innovations on display and watch our finalists present their ideas for improving agriculture in West Virginia.” 

State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt will present the awards during the Huntington Showcase, which is being hosted Dec. 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center on Marshall University’s Huntington campus. The showcase, which encourages innovation, technology integration and problem-solving, is free and open to the public. Register at