Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Faces of Rural Action

Spotlight: Maureen Wise
By Chris Tomazic, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

Maureen Wise is the Coordinator of the Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership (HRWRP) based in Mineral City. The 14.1 square mile watershed is damaged from mining, sewage, illegal dumps and oil and gas extraction. Maureen has been at HRWRP since 2003, but HRWRP was not a Rural Action program until January of 2005. About that time, the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District relinquished responsibility for the grant paying Maureen’s salary.

“We needed a new sponsor. Rural Action stepped up and agreed to administer it,” says Maureen “I think it was the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that thought of Rural Action. I already knew all the watershed people and had met Mary and Candi at a training. I couldn’t be happier with our partnership.”

Maureen is a graduate of Mount Union College with a double major in biology and writing. She hails from Ravenna and now lives in Canton with her husband, Nathan. In her free time, Maureen has been learning to play drums and enjoys gardening, reading and running, and she has a passion for traveling.

We recently held a staff meeting at the Huff Run office in quaint Mineral City. HRWRP seems to be an integral and visible part of that community. A few board members even came to our lunch to greet us. “The people who like what we do are so supportive and their enthusiasm is such an encouragement,” says Maureen.

On August 9, HRWRP will hold a 5K run at the Mineral City Party in the Park. This would be a great opportunity to visit Maureen and the Huff Run office, especially since its adjacent to the Mineral City Park. The race costs $10 (which benefits Huff Run). Registration begins at 6 p.m. and the race starts at 7.

While there’s plenty of work ahead, Maureen envisions HRWRP working itself out of a job. “That’s why we’re here, right? To impact the watershed but to ultimately hand over a clean stream to the community,” she says. “Without those people, our work would be pointless.”

For more info on Huff Run, visit Give Maureen a call at 330-859-1050.