Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Cara Rose is a graduate of Salem College, Salem, WV
She acquired a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Management in 1987
She is responsible for overseeing the marketing program and long-term strategic development of tourism in Pocahontas County. She began her career in the hospitality industry nearly forty years ago working at Watoga State Park, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, in Cass, Pocahontas County CVB from 1988-1996 and then the National Radio Astronomy Observatory from August 1997 to May 2011 before returning to the CVB in May 2011. Over the years she has also served on several event and festival committees and has served on a number of local planning committees.
Cara coordinates the Pocahontas County High School Tourism Club, Pocahontas County Housing Task Force, Snowshoe Highlands Area Recreation Collaborative, served as the Mon Forest Towns marketing committee chair, coordinated the Pocahontas County Bicentennial Commission, West Virginia sesquicentennial Quilt Trail of Pocahontas County and coordinates the Pocahontas County Mountain State Maple Days. She also provides hospitality training for Pocahontas County, presents Mountain Culture, a workforce development initiative in Pocahontas County and serves on other committees.
Outside of work, Cara is lives on the family farming, is a small business owner, and enjoys being outside, reading, hiking and amateur bird watching.
Jon Lamastra is the owner of Lamastra Farms, a family run agri-business. Located in beautiful Greenbrier County, their focus is on growing high quality gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, mushroom spawn, grow kits, heirloom produce, and egg/meat production of poultry and other small livestock.
While they focus on agricultural production, they also offer educational workshops, as well as perform several speaking presentations for the local community, including such organizations as the WV Master Gardeners Society, The Shepherd Center, The WV Mushroom Club, The WV School of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Yew Mountain Center.
At Lamastra Farms, their goal is to spread the knowledge of the nutritional and medicinal benefits of mushrooms and their cultivation methods, to help people be able to grow their own food as well as their own medicine.
Joey is a born-and-raised Appalachian from West Virginia with years of experience in local food. He spearheaded aggregation and distribution efforts for KISRA’s Paradise Farms in Dunbar, and in this capacity was one of the founding members of the Turnrow Appalachian Farms Collective. He has also served as the President of the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition. He came to his work in Appalachian foodways as an Appalachian Transition Fellow with the Highlander Research and Education Center. This work was not only a result of his connection to his homeplace, but a result of an education in Environmental Philosophy. In this capacity, he studied Philosophy of Food at the University of North Texas, where he wrote on hermeneutics and environmental aesthetics for his doctoral dissertation. Before that, he studied Philosophy of Technology in Montana, and wrote a Master’s Thesis on wilderness and culture. His published academic works touch on environmental ethics, economic transition, environmental justice, and the role of the forest in Appalachian foodways. He’s currently serving on the board of the Buckhannon River Watershed Association.
Sarah grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has lived and grown and foraged food in Highland County, Virginia for the past dozen years including producing maple and walnut syrups. She earned a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia with a thesis titled "Landscape Agriculture: Landscape Design Lessons Learned from the Farming Communities of Rural Appalachia." She draws on her personal and professional experiences and interests to guide her work in community development through Appalachian agroforestry. Sarah serves on the board of the Allegheny Mountain Institute, a community development and food systems fellowship organization, and previously served as Production and Orchard Manager for Big Fish Cider, Co. She and her husband are raising their two boys to have a profound love for the land around them and see the abundance it can provide.
For more than 15 years, Tanner has been working to promote Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s) as a sustainable and ecologically-based forest management strategy for woodland owners in southeast Ohio and the central Appalachian region. Tanner graduated from Ohio University in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Geography, and a minor specializing in Environmental and Plant Biology. From 2005 to 2008, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Rural Action’s Sustainable Forestry Program before accepting a staff position as the organizations Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Specialist. In this role he regularly conducted workshops, presentations, and provided on-the-ground technical assistance for woodland owners interested in developing sustainable NTFP enterprises, and restoring at-risk forest herb communities. In 2015, after gaining 10 years of experience in the field, Tanner returned to Ohio University and earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies for his research examining mycorrhizal symbiosis in wild-simulated ginseng roots, and the effect of mycorrhizal colonization on root ginsenoside concentrations. After completing his research, he returned to Rural Action in 2017 and continued to serve as the organizations NTFP Specialist, and ultimately Sustainable Forestry Program Director before accepting a position with United Plant Savers in 2021. In his spare time Tanner enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, and experiments with producing forest-grown mushrooms, maple syrup, American ginseng, and a variety of other edible and medicinal forest products.
Ed is a forest and market farmer in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. Born and raised in West Virginia, he and his wife, Carole, began planting wild harvested American ginseng on their farm in the mid-1990’s. They incorporated other forest medicinals, like goldenseal, ramps, and black cohosh, and continue adding other native plants to their properties. In 2016, they started a small business, named Shady Grove Botanicals, where they grow and sell starter kits to beginning forest farmers, as well as produce several value-added products.
They attend and present at forest farming conferences to increase and share their knowledge. Since 2016, Ed has been teaching the youth how to grow at-risk medicinals using sustainable and organic methods. Shortly thereafter, they incorporated vegetables into their program to teach kids how to grow their own food. This is how their non-profit, Plant the Seed Project, began.
Will is the Yew Mountain Center’s forest farming coordinator and a technical service provider for the West Virginia Forest Farming Initiative (WVFFI). His degree in Horticulture served as a great baseline for him to launch into the forest farming coordinator at the Yew Mountain center in 2018. Since then he has been establishing the forest farm at the Yew and has been trained to offer site visits and other technical assistance to forest farmers through the WVFFI. Will, alongside Erica Marks, was instrumental in creating the West Virginia Forest Farming Initiative project of the Yew Mountain Center and regional partners. He also works as a seasonal honey bee inspector for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and manages his own beehives for his business which sells bees, queens, and hive products. With his years of experience in agriculture he has a diverse background of whole farm management to help serve farmers that are establishing or diversifying their farms.
Brian Jenkins is a forest farmer of botanical herbs located just outside of Lexington, VA. With 10+ years of experience, Brian works to expand his operation each season. Currently Brian’s forest farm produces black and blue cohosh, bloodroot, ginseng, stone root, goldenseal, solomon's seal and wild yam. Brian works with the Appalachian Harvest Herb Hub as a grower to help market and process his herbs. He also is a small scale syrup producer, making several gallons of walnut/maple blend each winter. Brian sees his forest farming operation as a sideline operation or hobby. For him, working in the woods is a great way to spend free time when he is not at his local hospital working as a Registered Nurse. That being said, Brian is looking forward to retirement in the coming years so he can have more time to grow and expand his forest farming operation.
Pabitra Aryal is a Graduate Research Assistant at Virginia Tech University in the USA, where she is pursuing her PhD in Agronomy. Her current research focuses on developing a site assessment tool and production techniques for ramps in Appalachia. She obtained her master's degree in Biological Sciences from Eastern Illinois University in the USA. Pabitra's primary research interests lie in the use of GIS and remote sensing for sustainable agriculture, as well as the use of mycorrhizal fungi to enhance crop growth.