Wilburn Jude

Wilburn Jude

Crew Member

Refresh Appalachia

Williamson, WV USA

Plan B is more important than Plan A. Nothing is ever going to work out the way you plan it, so you’ve always got to be looking beyond what you are doing to see what the next step is.


By Roadtrip Nation

Wilburn Jude


My road in life took a while to figure out.
Born and raised in Mingo County, West Virginia—I come from a long line of coal miners, stretching back multiple generations all the way back to the Civil War.
My father was an avid gardener and instilled that passion in me from an early age—my wife and I have even talked about one day starting a farm or large garden once we retire.
For over 20 years, I worked in various coal mines throughout West Virginia, but I got laid off in 2013 as the coal industry slowly collapsed in our area.
After getting laid off, I struggled to find a job and briefly considered pursuing a career in a technical field, but wasn’t sure that was for me.
I eventually found out about Refresh Appalachia, an agricultural nonprofit providing training in farm and food entrepreneurship, and I applied.
I joined their 33-6-3 program, where every week I spend 33 hours in on-the-job training, six hours in a college classroom, and three hours learning about personal development.
I attended Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, where I earned my associate’s degree in applied sciences in 2019.
I plan on using the education and experience gained from Refresh Appalachia to start pursuing exciting new career ventures, and I’m even considering continuing my higher education.


High School
Associate's Degree
Applied Sciences
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College


Crew Member

I'm a former coal miner now working in farm agriculture and food entrepreneurship in West Virginia.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Environment & Nature
Non-Profit Organizations
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

I tend the land of various areas that Refresh Appalachia has leased. I have to haul goats, chickens, pigs, honeybees,, soil, and a variety of plants. My goal is to make the land workable and viable. When I'm not tending to the land and the livestock, I'm in the classroom. I've been studying agricultural science along with business management and business law and just recently graduated with my associate's degree. I also take classes on personal development.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Look for programs and people that can help you find new opportunities. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't let the fear of starting something new hold you back. Push past the fear.


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"There is nothing to do in this area besides coal mining."

Challenges I Overcame

Job Loss
Career Change

Interviewed By



Changing careers and reinventing your path