T Allan Comp, Ph.D., received national awards for his work with the people of the Appalachian coal country, for his successful effort to engage the art and humanities in environmental recovery and for his remarkable choreography of multiple federal agency partnerships, particularly with VISTA, in working with rural mining communities. Recognized as an artist/thinker and a good speaker, Comp was once described as "a relaxed blend of John Muir, John Dewey, and John the Baptist." An employee of the Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining, Allan was profiled by Orion Magazine, named a Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures in 2007 and was the first federal employee to be named a National River Hero by the River Network in 2009. In September 2009 he was awarded the Service to America Medal in the Environment category by the Partnership for Public Service, the highest award a federal employee can receive. An historian of technology with a long engagement in cultural resources, community redevelopment, and environmental reclamation, Allan is committed to the recovery of Appalachian mining communities of Appalachia, the Mountain West, and elsewhere.
Dr. Comp founded and coordinates the Appalachian Coal Country Team and the Western Hardrock Watershed Team. Dr. Comp started the ACCT in 2002 to assist rural Appalachian coal communities impoverished by environmental degradation in their efforts to make their local watersheds and communities healthier places to live and work. The ACCT now has more than 30 full-time OSMRE/VISTA Volunteers who live and work in rural areas to promote environmental and social change at a grassroots level in seven Appalachian states.
The inspiration for these watershed teams and the beginning of his experience working with AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers stems from the non-profit which Dr. Comp originated and directed, the AMD&ART Project. A recipient of multiple awards, the AMD&ART Project continues to provide an example of innovative, multidisciplinary partnerships in reclamation and community revitalization.