Saying Goodbye to West Virginia

I’m not one who likes to break bad news. In fact, most people would call me a softie. But I do have some bad news to share with my readers. I’ll end on a positive note, so it won’t all be a downer today.

My days as the Garden Guru and as an extension agent with West Virginia University are coming to a close. Most of my friends, coworkers, and colleagues already know this, but I figured it was about time to share the news with the rest of my reading audience.

I have accepted a position with the University of Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture and will be leaving my position here Jan. 3 to move West. For my avid readers, I plan to write a few more articles and finish out the year. It is, after all, a fitting close to one chapter and a beginning of another.

Had you asked me at the beginning of 2016 if I was going to move away or find another job, the answer would have been no. But things have a way of happening that make you change your perspective.

Early in the year, after losing funding from the county commission, my colleagues and I were told one of our positions may be eliminated. After several sleepless nights, a few panic attacks and much thought, I decided to place myself on the market to see what opportunities may be available.

Since then, my officemates and I were told by our administration that a position wouldn’t be eliminated, but by that time I had already found an opportunity too good to pass up.

And even though the immediate situation isn’t dire, there are dark times ahead for both the state and the extension service as budgets continue to tighten. It seems I may be getting out while getting’s good.

I’ll miss my work here with extension. And I’ll also miss being the Garden Guru. It will definitely be different for a while going out in public with the possibility of total anonymity, at least for a while.

I’ll miss those encounters, where people ask, “Aren’t you the guy in the paper?” or “Aren’t you the guy on TV?” or they tell me they enjoy my articles. I’ll definitely miss that.

But opportunity abounds for me. I’ll be doing extension programs based on urban agriculture in the Omaha, Nebraska, area. It seems a great fit, since I’ve dedicated most of my work over the last few years to urban agriculture, especially the wildly successful WV Urban Ag Conference.

In addition to the extension work, I’ll be a professor at the Nebraska College for Technical Agriculture, where I will develop and teach a new certificate and degree program in Urban Agriculture. The job will also entail working with troubled youth at the farm for the Omaha Home for Boys.

The job sounds like it will be perfect for me, and I’m excited about all the opportunities ahead. I’ll also be better able to pursue a goal I’ve had most of my life. My plan is to start working on a Ph.D. soon after I move.

Thank you so much for being a great audience. I’ve loved every minute of it, and hope to continue writing in some form in the future.

So, while I only have a few articles left here, you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with my writing (@wvgardenguru — for now, anyway). And, who knows, maybe I’ll be back one day.

Garden calendars

So now a positive note. The ever-prized and sought-after WVU Extension Garden Calendars are now in stock.

You can pick up your calendar at any of the Kanawha County libraries this week. We also have some available at the extension office (4700 MacCorkle Ave. SE, Suite 101, Kanawha City).

This year’s theme is Herb Appeal, and each month features a different culinary herb. Due to shipping costs, it is hard for us to ship the calendars.

John Porter is the WVU Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources in Kanawha County. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter at

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2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to West Virginia

  1. Why can’t you be the Guru and continue to write? Live in NC but always read your articles. Good luck to you.

    1. Patsy- thanks so much. I plan to continue writing, just from a different location. Since I’m leaving WV, I won’t be writing for the paper so I won’t have a regular weekly schedule, so I’ll be on my own schedule for a while and the articles won’t be quite as “regular.” I’ll likely be concentrating on writing for social media and may try to pick up some online magazine or blog writing and hopefully find a regular writing gig in the near future.

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