West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick has announced key players who will be taking leadership roles under his new administration at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA).
“These individuals bring the skills and experience to create greater economic opportunity for our agricultural community,” said Commissioner Helmick, who was sworn into office January 14. “Working together as a team, I’m confident we can make our state a better place for all West Virginians.
Chris Ferro is Commissioner Helmick’s new Chief of Staff. He will handle day-to-day operations at WVDA headquarters at Guthrie.
“Chris is energetic and has a great deal of experience working in government here in Charleston. I think he’s a great fit to take over the operational responsibilities of the Department,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick.
Ferro most recently served as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Prior to joining the Governor’s staff, Ferro worked in Charleston as an associate attorney with the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC. He also worked as a staff attorney for the Senate Judiciary Committee in the West Virginia Legislature and as a staff member for Governor Bob Wise.
A native of McMechen in Marshall County, Ferro received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from West Virginia University in 2002, graduating magna cum laude and as a University Honors Scholar, and his juris doctorate from the West Virginia University College of Law in 2007. He lives in St. Albans with his wife Keri, stepdaughter Abigail, and son Braxton Thomas.
Hardy County resident Mike Teets is the new Senior Manager for Eastern Operations at WVDA’s Regional Agricultural Complex at Moorefield.
“Mike is a very successful farmer who has experience in government, and who understands the economic importance of agriculture to the Eastern Panhandle region and the state,” said Commissioner Helmick. “I’m extremely pleased he has agreed to join the Department.”
Teets was the 2008 Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture. He and his son, Matthew, operate Teets Farms in Lost River. He started the farm in 1973 with just 27 cattle. Since then, his operation has grown to produce more than 1,000 cattle and 250,000 turkeys annually, plus 600 acres of corn, hay and alfalfa.
Teets serves on the Hardy County Commission and helped organize the county’s Farm Preservation Board. While on the commission he has worked with local, state and federal leaders to bring safe drinking water to rural areas of the county and develop business and industrial parks throughout the county. He also is a longtime member and has served as vice president of the Hardy County Rural Development Authority.
Teets and his wife, Joyce Godlove Teets, also have a daughter, Dr. Tina Teets Keplinger, a veterinarian who owns and practices at Lost River Animal Hospital, and six grandchildren.
Department of Agriculture