2019 Chestnut Festival another SUCCESS! Last Update: 08/04/2020
Amy Metheny spent her childhood in Rock, West Virginia where the rural landscape instilled in her a great love of the outdoors. As a child, she dreamt of becoming a herpetologist, a scientist that studies reptiles and amphibians. However, when Amy attended the Ted Harriman Forest Industries Camp in 2011, she learned about American chestnut and the chestnut blight fungus for the first time. Something clicked, and she knew she had found the organisms she wanted to study. In 2013, Amy began a Bachelor of Science in Forestry at West Virginia University and began working on chestnut under Dr. William MacDonald and Mark Double. This work took her to field sites in Wisconsin, West Virginia and Maryland and deepened her interest in American chestnut. After completing her undergraduate degree, Amy completed a Master of Science majoring in Plant Pathology at WVU in 2019, focusing on transmitting hypovirus to individuals of C. parasitica in a forest setting using engineered C. parasitica strains known as the “super donor.” Amy has presented her work in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia, even returning to WV State Conservation Camp and the Forest Industries Camp where she first fell in love with the American chestnut. Amy enjoys spreading her love of nature and the American chestnut to the younger generation. She has taught science at the New Beginnings camp by High Rocks Educational Corporation, an organization designed to educate, empower and inspire young women in rural WV. She has also presented her work twice at the Rowlesburg Chestnut Festival, in 2017 and 2018. Amy is now employed as a research assistant at WVU, continuing her work on the super donor and hypovirulence in C. parasitica under Dr. Matthew Kasson.
Robert Eckenrode is a native of Newtown, Connecticut. Like Amy, he completed a Bachelor of Science in Forestry at WVU. Afterward, Rob obtained a Master of Science in Forestry from WVU under Dr. Gregory Dahle studying strain on lateral and codominant branches of red maple using digital image correlation. Throughout the last 3 years, Rob has spent long hours assisting Amy with chestnut research, namely helping treat, measure, and monitor C. parasitica cankers. Rob spent many years as a climbing arborist and currently works as an environmental scientist and vegetation management specialist at Allstar Ecology, LLC.
Amy and Rob have been a couple since January 2016 and now live in Morgantown, WV with their teacup poodle Momo. They enjoy exploring the Mountain State, hiking, fishing, enjoying fairs and festivals, and attending live bluegrass performances.