OSM/VISTAs Megan Baskerville, Mike Bloom, Von Holguin, and Megan Sheesley (all serving in PA) and their OSM/VISTA Leader, Katie Coulter, (WV) attended and presented at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in Indian, PA on March 23.
Each OSM/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 she works with, what she does toward environmental education, and the opportunities that AMD pigment has provided her groups to work with artists (and therefore outreach efforts). 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 of fall 2011. 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 B&B. Each of the presenters enjoyed the experience of presenting to interested attendees.
"I've had a fantastic experience as an Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team OSM/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/work. 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, Quarter 3, 2010