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WVU Davis College launches $2.5M fundraising effort to boost agriculture in W.Va.

Three students harvest basil on the WVU Organic Farm

West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design is building upon a $521,000 legacy gift from a late alumnus to provide needed support for its research, education and outreach centers statewide. The gift bolsters a broader $2.5 million fundraising effort that aims to promote and strengthen agriculture in West Virginia.

A recent trust gift established the John D. Anderson, Jr. WVU Farm Endowment, which supports the greatest needs of Davis College Research, Education and Outreach Centers. John Anderson, Jr. grew up on a farm in Morgantown and graduated from the Davis College in 1939, earning a bachelor’s degree in animal and veterinary sciences.

John D. Anderson

The Davis College, through its USDA-supported Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, maintains seven farms – known as Research, Education and Outreach Centers – spanning an estimated 3,100 acres statewide. Three facilities are located in Morgantown, near WVU’s main campus; others are located in Hardy, Jefferson, Monroe and Preston counties.


Operating costs for all seven properties amount to about $875,000 per year. Buoyed by Anderson’s $521,000 gift, College officials are seeking roughly $2 million more to ensure the Davis College can properly maintain these facilities to support its teaching, research and outreach efforts for years to come. Possible uses for the funds include agricultural education and outreach programming, student support, research activities supported by state-of-the-art equipment, construction, renovation and maintenance.

“Agricultural research, education and outreach are essential to meeting the food, shelter and clothing needs of a growing population,” Darrell Donahue, dean of the College, said. “This generous gift from John D. Anderson, Jr. will allow us to do more in those areas: implement more cutting-edge research methods and technologies, provide students more hands-on learning opportunities with modern equipment and spend more time engaging with communities around our state and throughout the region.” 


Anderson’s children said their father would appreciate how his gift strengthens WVU and its mission to serve the state.

“He had the love of the land on his home dairy farm,” daughter Sonya Westerman said. “His whole early life was an education in agriculture. Dad’s father, John D. Anderson, Sr., had the most modern equipment available throughout his childhood, college and beyond. (H)e knew farming was a difficult but good life and a great way to raise a family. This is why he would be proud to support farming in West Virginia.”

Upon graduation from WVU, John Anderson, Jr. worked for the state Department of Agriculture in Preston County, where he assisted farmers seeking loans to purchase land, livestock and equipment. After serving in World War II, his intent was to establish his own farm, but he ultimately owned and operated a hardware store in St. Albans for more than 50 years.


Dr. Harry Anderson, an optometrist in Spencer, said his dad was a highly respected businessman with a strong work ethic and commitment to his community. John Anderson, Jr. was also a lifelong Mountaineer sports fan and proud WVU alumnus. Prior to his passing, he and his brother, a graduate of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, established the John and Dick Anderson Scholarship to benefit students pursuing degrees within the Davis and Eberly colleges.

Alumni and friends of the Davis College interested in supporting WVU farms can contact Director of Development Andrew Barnes at 304-293-6962 or for more information.

Anderson’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University, in conjunction with WVU Day of Giving. Alumni and friends made over 5,600 gifts totaling $15.5 million to support the University’s fifth Day of Giving on March 9.



Communications Specialist
WVU Foundation


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