Jean Snedegar

Independent Producer based in Elkins, West Virginia

Jean Snedegar got her start in radio at age 13.  As an 8th grader she helped produce school programs for WDNE in Elkins, but didn’t start her professional career in radio until she was nearly 30 and living in England.

For more than 20 years she worked as a freelance reporter on BBC Radio’s national speech network – Radio 4, and their international radio network, the BBC World Service – at the time one of the few North American voices on the BBC. 

But after more than 25 years in London, she started to hanker for the mountains of West Virginia.  In 2002 she returned to her home state.  Though she sometimes misses the excitement of walking into Broadcasting House in London, she is grateful every day when she looks out her office window overlooking Elkins.

Since 2010 Jean has been producing Inspiring West Virginians, profiles of West Virginians who are global leaders in the sciences and in business.

Ways to Connect

Jean Snedegar

Halfway between Mill Creek and Helvetia, West Virginia, four miles or so off the main road, Scotty Cook, the owner of a small-scale logging operation in Elkins, trudges along a muddy, deep gullied logging road. 

Cook has been working in the industry for about 20 years and got started because of his family.

"My dad and them, they [were] in it all their lives," he said. "Tradition I suppose."

Kelly Riddle, of Allegheny Wood Products, in a timber stand in Preston County, W.Va.
Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the next part of our occasional series on the timber and forest products industry, we find out how timber cruisers -- or procurement foresters -- help landowners decide when to harvest trees in a timber stand, which trees to take and which ones to leave behind.  

Independent producer Jean Snedegar joined Kelly Riddle, of Allegheny Wood Products, in early June at a privately owned forest near Kingwood, in Preston County.

A large log landing -- Green Mountain, Tucker County, circa 1910.
Photo courtesy of Robert C. Whetsell

"Just as we came to the hills, we met with a Sycamore.....of a most extraordinary size, it measuring three feet from the ground, forty-five feet round, lacking two inches; and not fifty yards from it was another, thirty-one feet round."

– George Washington, written while exploring the Great Kanawha River, Nov. 4, 1770

Melissa Thomas Van Gundy at the  Fernow Experimental Forest in Tucker County, W.Va.
Jean Sendegar / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: This story is part of an occasional series from independent producer Jean Snedegar about the timber and forest products industry here in the Mountain State – from seedlings to final products.

One of the oldest and largest industries in West Virginia is the timber and wood products industry.  West Virginia is rich in this renewable natural resource, but the housing downturn that began 10 years ago hit the industry hard. 

Inspiring West Virginians Ken Allman
Jean Snedegar

In 1995, when the internet was still in its infancy in terms of use in online commerce, 33-year-old Ken Allman started an online business in his one-bedroom apartment in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Allman, a native of Hinton, WV, designed the business as a link between physicians looking for a new position, and hospitals and other facilities looking for medical staff. 

Inspiring West Virginian Justin Ellis
Jean Snedegar

One of the fastest growing fields in astrophysics is gravitational waves – what scientists call ripples in the fabric of space-time, first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1915. 

A hundred years later, in September 2015, they were actually detected by ultra-sensitive lasers.

But others are searching for gravitational waves with pulsars - the dead relics of massive stars. Astronomers detect pulsars by the radio pulses they emit at regular intervals.

Enter Justin Ellis, just 30 years old, from a rural area outside of Charles Town in Jefferson County, WV.

Inspiring West Virginian Dan Carder
Jean Snedegar

Remember when Volkswagen got busted last year for cheating on emissions tests? A settlement that could reach $20 billion is still being negotiated.

Well here’s the back-story - how a car-obsessed country boy from West Virginia became one of the world’s great emissions engineers, uncovering one of the biggest scandals in automobile history. 

Forty-six year old Dan Carder of Wood County, WV is a WVU graduate, a mechanical engineer, and runs the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (known as CAFEE) at West Virginia University.

Jean Snedegar

Keren Brown Wilson of War, WV says it all started with her mom, Jessie.  At just age 55, Jessie had a stoke that confined her to nursing homes for the next decade.

Jean Snedegar

Rod Van Meter strolls the halls at Duke University in Durham, N.C., knowing his very satisfying year here as a visiting professor on Fellowship is wrapping up.

Soon he’ll be returning to Keio University in Japan, and Shonan Fujisawa campus, about an hour southwest of Tokyo near the coast.

Forty-nine year old Van Meter of Williamson, WV is one of just a few thousand scientists and engineers in the world working on the future of Information Technology – quantum computers and networks. 

Jean Snedegar

She’s so beautiful that after retiring as a global executive for IBM, she was pursued by the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency as a mature model, appearing in numerous ads for national commercials.

But today Marilyn Johnson is one of the most high profile African-American businesswomen in the country.  She’s CEO of one of the most prestigious women’s organizations in the world – the International Women’s Forum headquartered in Washington, DC.

Jean Snedegar

He’s got a beautiful voice. 

In fact, he was once a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus - the house chorus for the Boston Symphony Orchestra – and he currently sings with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. 

Jean Snedegar

Jake Harriman is a Preston County farm boy who grew up to become a leader in the fight against one of the world’s biggest problems:  extreme poverty. 

Harriman is one of three leaders in science and business profiled in the public radio documentary Inspiring West Virginians.

Jean Snedegar

Patrice Harris, MD, a native of Bluefield, WV,  is one of the nation’s leading psychiatrists.

Harris and 3 other leaders in science and business are featured in the public radio broadcast of Inspiring West Virginians.

Harris is currently the District Health Director for Fulton County, Georgia, which includes the city of Atlanta, and is responsible for more than a million patients.

Jean Snedegar

During his distinguished career, theoretical physicist and cosmologist Adrian Melott has been a pioneer in two completely different fields of space science – and he credits his focus and curiosity in large part to his grandfather who read a lot about science, and his father, a machinist who allowed him “free reign” in a chemistry lab in the family basement.

Not many pharmacists do cutting edge research in developing new drugs, and how drugs affect different patients differently.

But 53-year-old clinical pharmacologist Bill Petros of Wheeling, WV studies how cancer drugs react differently from one patient to the next.

For more than a decade Bill Petros led his own research lab at Duke University Cancer Center, one of the top cancer research centers in the United States. 

Then he got a call from West Virginia University, and was thrilled to return home.

Ellen Mosley-Thompson and Lonnie Thompson
Ellen Mosley-Thompson

Follow two of the world's leading paleoclimatologists to the top of the world and both poles!

Using ice cores they drill themselves, Marshall graduates Lonnie Thompson, from Gassaway, and Ellen Mosley-Thompson, from Charleston, study the history of climate at the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University.  Lonnie was the first scientist in the world to drill ice cores on glaciers in tropical regions.  And he has spent more time above 20,000 feet than anyone in history.

Caroline and Holmes Morton
Jean Snedegar

Travel to Amish country to hear about one of the most unusual medical clinics in the United States -- the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, founded by Dr. D. Holmes Morton, of Fayetteville, and his wife, Caroline, from Beckley.  Here doctors and scientists diagnose and treat rare genetic disorders in children from Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Jean Snedegar

Meet Hinton-native Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington.  Previously she was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Burwell is the past President of Global Development at the Bill & Linda Gates Foundation in Seattle, the world's largest charitable organization. At the Foundation Mathews Burwell was responsible for giving away $750 billion a year to help some of the world's poorest people have access to better agricultural techniques, financial services and clean water and sanitation.

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit
Brad Smith

Hear why co-workers of Brad Smith, President & CEO of the global financial software giant, Intuit, say he's the best ambassador West Virginia could ever have.

With Marshall memorabilia in abundance in his office, this Wayne County native boldly declares that everyone in the company knows about his alma mater, Marshall University, and his hometown, Kenova, West Virginia.

M.I.T. professor John Ochsendorf
Jean Snedegar

Elkins-native John Ochsendorf, 36, is a professor of structural engineering and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  At 26 – eight years after he graduated from Elkins High School – he became one of the youngest professors ever appointed at the world’s top technical university.

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