WVU Extension Specialist –
Ben Spong, West Virginia University Extension Service forest operations specialist, knows what helps make West Virginia wild and wonderful, like the abundant forests that cover more than one-third of the state.
“West Virginia is one of the most forested states in the country, and because of this large, wooded area, there is a strong link to people and organizations that utilize the renewable, natural resource,” explained Spong.
Working as part of WVU’s Appalachian Hardwood Center—a jointly supported Center between WVU Extension Service and the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design—Spong helps educate people and organizations about best practices in a variety of forest operations which include business management, harvest planning, optimization and safety with forest activities, and methods to harvest trees in an environmentally responsible way.
According to the West Virginia Forestry Association, the forest industry in West Virginia contributes more than $3 billion to the state’s economy and employs more than 30,000 people.
Forest experts, like Spong, offer trusted, accurate and nonbiased information from University research to individuals, communities and organizations throughout the state, and beyond.
Spong also plays a key role in teaching young people about the natural world. Each year, Spong coordinates the West Virginia State Conservation Camp, which educates high school youths about the natural world while they engage in fun, outdoor activities.
During the week-long camp, youths learn the importance of conservation and being good stewards for the environment.
“Conservation Camp is a great place for youths to make friends with other young people from across the state while having opportunities for learning about the natural world in a fun, camp setting,” remarked Spong.
Spong’s previous work includes experience in the Peace Corps in Mauritania, Africa and research activities in Ethiopia and South Africa, teaching positions at Oregon State University, and a natural resource specialist role for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
He earned a Ph.D. and master’s degree in Forest Engineering from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s degree in forest resources from the University of Washington.
To reach Spong, e-mail Ben.Spong@mail.wvu.edu or call 304-293-9425.