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West Virginia Folklife Program presents pair of virtual apprenticeship showcases

CHARLESTON — On two weekdays in June, The West Virginia Folklife Program, a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council, will present two virtual showcases, featuring participants in its 2020-2021 Folklife Apprenticeship Program.

At noon June 9, herbalist Leenie Hobbie, of Hampshire County, and apprentice Jon Falcone, of Hardy County, will hold their virtual showcase, screening their slideshow “Traditional Appalachian Herbalism in the Time of COVID,” leading a guided indoor wild herb walk, and hosting a Q&A.

At noon June 17, “sheep-to-shawl” apprentice pair Kathy Evans, of Preston County, and apprentice Margaret Bruning, of Randolph County, will hold their virtual showcase, screening a video about their apprenticeship in sheep husbandry and fiber arts and hosting a Q&A.

Both events are free and open to the public, but attendees should register at

As part of the apprenticeship program, Hobbie, of Rio, led an apprenticeship in traditional Appalachian herbalism with Jon Falcone, of Lost River. Hobbie has been a family herbalist for over 30 years, originally learning the tradition from her grandmother, who used garden-grown and wild-harvested plants at her home in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia. She has studied with herbalists across the country and has taught the tradition within her community in Hampshire County.

Falcone is a novice herbalist who hopes to apply his skills to his future homestead in West Virginia.

Evans, of Bruceton Mills, led an apprenticeship, titled “Sheep to Shawl: The Art of Raising Sheep and Creating Fiber Arts,” with apprentice Margaret Bruning, of Elkins. Evans is a fifth-generation farmer and owner of Evans Knob Farm in Preston County, where she cultivates Certified Naturally Grown vegetables and raises sheep and poultry. She teaches and exhibits her fiber arts in West Virginia and across the country and has been featured in Modern Farmer and Morgantown Magazine.

Bruning grew up on a goat farm in upstate New York and has been a lifelong fiber artist. She and her husband David raise sheep at their homestead in Randolph County.

The West Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program offers a stipend to West Virginia master traditional artists or tradition bearers working with qualified apprentices on a year-long in-depth apprenticeship in their cultural expression or traditional art form. These apprenticeships aim to facilitate the transmission of techniques and artistry of the forms, as well as their histories and traditions. This marks the second year of the biennial Folklife Apprenticeship Program.

The West Virginia Folklife Program is a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts Folk & Traditional Arts Program. West Virginia Folklife is dedicated to the documentation, preservation, presentation and of West Virginia’s vibrant cultural heritage and living traditions.

For more information on the events and West Virginia Folklife Program, visit gram/ and, or contact Emily Hilliard at or 304-346-8500.

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