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Appalachian Coal Country Team

Core Goal 5: Promote Professional Development

OSMRE/VISTAs and their communities can both benefit from a year of service. OSMRE/VISTAs attend trainings, present at professional conferences, and take on challenging projects. This can transform ACCT OSMRE/VISTAs into professionals and long-term assets for their sponsors.

Conference Proves Successful for OSMRE/VISTAs

OSM/VISTAs Megan Baskerville, Mike Bloom, Katie Coulter, Von Holguin, and Megan Sheesley stand with musician and Keynote speaker at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in Indiana, PA, Si Kahn and Jim Cahalan, conference organizer

OSMRE/VISTAs Megan Baskerville, Mike Bloom, Von Holguin, and Megan Sheesley (all serving in PA) and their OSMRE/VISTA Leader, Katie Coulter (WV), attended and presented at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in Indian, Pennsylvania.

Each OSMRE/VISTA presented on their individual projects, highlighting the successes and how they have overcome challenges of working in rural Appalachia.

Megan Baskerville highlighted the successful volunteer programs with which she works, what she does toward environmental education, and the opportunities that AMD pigment has provided her groups to work with artists. Von Holguin presented the innovative ways Clearfield County Conservation District seeks to reach out to the community through a canoeing sojourn on the Susquehanna River and a virtual online map of points of interest in the watershed. Mike Bloom discussed his success in organizing trail building and the recovery from the hurricane and flooding events. Megan Sheesley presented on the serious vacancy issues in Brownsville, PA and highlighted the Rose Mansion project, which the Brownsville Revitalization Corporation seeks to restore and turn into a Bed and Breakfast. Each of the presenters enjoyed the experience of presenting to interested attendees.

Miranda Shoemaker reflects on her time as an OSMRE/VISTA

OSM/VISTA Miranda Shoemaker works with volunteers to monitor water quality for the Armstrong County Conservation District

"I've had a fantastic experience as an Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team OSMRE/VISTA with the Armstrong Conservation District in western PA. It is really a great program to enter after college. It allowed me to take the theory that I had studied in college and connect it to real world situations. It was a real eye-opener to how much I did not know and what wasn't covered in a college course! It forced me to change my way of thinking about environmental work. I learned the real way of doing things and how the "system" works. All of my life I have grown up in Appalachia and I thought, as most of us have thought at one time or another, that I wanted to move away. After this experience and really being involved with the community, I have a much better opinion of where I am from. I have pride in my community and I truly identify with the community and know I belong here!"
-Miranda Shoemaker, Armstrong Conservation District