Instructional Faculty


Director of Youth Education & Strategic Advancement, Assistant Professor

Jenny Totten grew up in West Virginia and currently resides in McDowell County, WV. She’s tried to flee her Appalachian roots more than once and finally found herself back home with her passion. Professionally trained as an aerospace and robotics engineer, she discovered after a series of beautiful adventures including Haiti, the 1890 extension system, and the WV nonprofit sector, that she prefers working with communities to engineer their own futures instead. Jenny has worked with both community development and local food systems in the region for over a decade, particularly supporting local level efforts and systems approaches to community change.

Her professional interests gravitate towards building rural economic models, supporting youth-based programs, entrepreneurship, applications of technology to rural development, and agroforestry pursuits. In addition to working for the university, she owns and operates a small cut flower operation and is the proud owner of an endless fixer upper house project in McDowell County. In her spare time, Jenny enjoys hiking, flatwater kayaking, trail running, and traveling to find new culinary and music adventures with her canine, Oliver.

Jenny received both an MS in unmanned systems and BS in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech and is a member of the inaugural class of Appalachian Leadership Institute fellows, sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission. She is a past winner of the West Virginia Beacon Award, given to young people working to build leadership in their local communities.