MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. – Avella native Jocilyn DePetro, the newly hired West Virginia University Extension Service program assistant of agriculture and natural resources, hopes to provide many learning opportunities for the public while also expanding her duties at the Marshall County agency.
Hired as the new program assistant for the Marshall County extension service in March, DePetro, who graduated from Avella High School in 2010 and Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in agricultural sciences, said she has gathered a lot of her farming and agriculture experience while growing up on a farm in Avella.
“I’ve always been interested in gardening and animals and that kind of stuff. … I was in 4-H,” DePetro explained.
DePetro said she spends a lot of her time “planting and weeding” in the garden and greenhouse next to the extension offices on Barn Drive next to the Red Barn in Moundsville.
“Most of the time, I’m outside. We have a raised tunnel, some raised beds and a garden space,” she said.
DePetro said it is common for people to stop in or call her office in search of answers to general nature and agriculture questions. Whether it’s dealing with a beetle that is damaging a tree or learning about a specific plant, DePetro said she fields all kinds of questions from the public.
“And if I don’t have the information, then I go to a WVU specialist in Morgantown,” she said. “If they (the public) have any questions about their soil, we can also do soil samples.”
DePetro said she has several goals while working in her new role for the extension service. With the use of the high tunnel greenhouse, she plans to extend the gardening season by starting plants in January and February and growing some plants through late fall.
In addition, she hopes to grow the Marshall County Master Gardeners Program, a program that has seen a decline in membership in recent years.
DePetro said one of her main goals is to help educate people of all ages about agriculture in general and provide as many learning opportunities as possible.
“I would love to get kids, adults and people of all ages … to just get people out here, whether they have questions, whether they want to help or whether they want to learn about gardening. Come out and see what it is about. That’s why the garden is here,” she explained. “I just want people to get involved and know where their food comes from.”