Wednesday, July 25, 2007

News

Rural Action Honored as Charity of the Day by GoodSearch.com

On Thursday, August 2, Rural Action will be honored as Charity of the Day by GoodSearch.com, a new search engine that donates half of its revenue to the charities its users designate. GoodSearch is powered by Yahoo! and works similarly to other search engines, but with a charitable twist: each time a search is conducted, the site donates a penny to a non-profit organization. On August 2 our work will have a global audience as GoodSearch highlights our website. Just 500 individuals searching 4 times will raise approximately $7300 for Rural Action--in one year! So please make sure to bookmark www.goodsearch.com and search daily!

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
By Chris Tomazic, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

We've recently said goodbye to a four VISTAs that ended their year(s) of service with Rural Action.

Adam Fitch worked with the Environmental Learning Program. Adam is especially learned in wilderness skills, such as plant identification, animal tracking, natural crafts (such as coradage, dream catchers, natural dying and the like) and hiking. Adam will continue to live in Athens County with his wife, Holly, and pre-school daughter, Cora. He'll be working with a local carpentry business.

Adam has a deep respect for the Earth and an amazing rapport with children. "I chose to serve because it's important to instil young children a sense of respect and stewardship for the earth," he said. "I will remember most the moments when I could see a kid become curious about the natural world. It is that process that will build a relationship to the earth, and hence a desire to protect and care for it. Those are truly amazing moments to witness and be a part of."

Liz Drabik served with Sustainable Agriculture as the Roots of Appalachia Growers Association Coordinator. She also worked closely with Sustainable Forestry on projects such as the Land Owners Conference. Liz will be attending Ohio University in the fall to earn a masters degree in environmental studies. In the meantime, she'll be taking a road trip across the country with San Francisco as her ultimate destination.

"I wanted a VISTA position that dealt with environmental issues, and Rural Action was the only one I found that wasn't located in the Pacific Northwest. I also had an interest in learning more about medicinal plants," Liz said about why she decided to serve with Rural Action. "I'm going to miss the delicious potlucks and all the laughter!"

Michelle Shively served in Mineral City with the Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership. Michelle is engaged to be married in August. She's already traveled to her new home in Flagstaff, Arizona. She'll start a master's degree in January studying Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Northern Arizona.

Michelle's duties included youth outreach in the class room and as part of a monthly youth group that meets at Huff Run, the Environmental Explorers Club. "I really feel proud of all the environmental education work I've done this year. I did over 30 classroom presentations and organized three Awareness Day field trips for over 300 students. I really reached out to homeschool groups this year and we had many new participants," she said.

Sara Peach served with Rural Action for two years first on the Development/Communications Team then with the Rural Renewal Strategy. She spent the bulk of this year holding listening sessions and organizing the Retreat on Rural Renewal, which took place at the annual meeting on June 16. She'll be attending the University of North Carolina in the fall to earn a master's degree in journalism.

Sara sees short and long term benefits from her service. "In the short term, my AmeriCorps experience has led me directly to a great scholarship at the University of North Carolina," she said. "There's no question that I would not have this wonderful opportunity if not for Rural Action. In the long term, I see my experiences here informing my work as a journalist. My eyes have been opened to issues of class, poverty, and power that I never saw before."

"The AmeriCorps program at Rural Action is blessed by a staff that encourages us to try new things and to seek out experiences beyond what is written in our work plans," said Sara as she reflected about her service. "During my time here, I got to photograph spring flowers and to star as a waste-loving pig in a puppet show, which was great fun."

Thanks for your service Adam, Liz, Michelle and Sara!

RARE Center Developing Interpretive Trails System
By Kelsey McCoy, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

A project that has been in the works for a few years is coming to fruition this summer at the Rural Action Research and Education (RARE) Center in Meigs County. VISTA Summer Associates and RARE Center volunteers are developing an eight-mile interpretive trails system. The trails are comprised of land at the Center and will connect with neighboring property owned by United Plant Savers, Botanical Sanctuary and community members.

Over 200 signs showcase examples of wood plants in different life cycle stages. The signs delineate each plant by common name, species, and family. “The idea is to have signage and informational materials all along the trails,” Tanner Filayw, Rural Action Sustainable Forestry VISTA, said. This way, visitors don’t have to know a lot about plants to learn about the remarkable plant diversity characteristic of Appalachian forests.

According to Filayw, the system is unique compared to other trails because it is “much more extensive and in depth,” and once complete, will be one of the highest caliber interpretive trails systems in the country.

The trails will be open to the public in the early fall. Look out for information about Trail Opening Day coming up at the end of the summer. For more information contact the RARE Center at 740-742-4401.

Vibrant Volunteers: Summer VISTA Associates Give Glouster Bridge, Gardens New Pizzazz
By Kelsey McCoy, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

Glouster residents will be enjoying a colorful change in the community thanks to the work of VISTA Summer Associates. On Monday, July 23, a group of 16 volunteers equipped with paintbrushes and bright teal paint revitalized a rusted bridge on State Route 78 as part of the annual summer VISTA Service Project.

People slowed down at the busy intersection to watch as volunteers swept the sidewalk, removed rust, and covered the bridge with a fresh coat of glossy paint. The project was a coordinated effort between the VISTA Summer Associates, Glouster Community Development Corporation, and Glouster Village Counsel.

“We wanted to do something right here locally…so we got in touch with the Village Counsel and they immediately said, ‘Paint the bridge!’” VISTA Coordinator Candi Withem said. The teal paint was chosen as a close match to the color used on all state highways. As VISTA leader Tori Patterson pointed out, the color made a big impact. “I’ve never even noticed that bridge before but [the paint] makes it stand out, and makes you notice the creek more, too,” Patterson said.

The bridge wasn’t the only community focal point to get a facelift last Monday. Down the street, four VISTA Summer Associates devoted the day to improving three gardens behind the Glouster Community Library. After weeding the gardens, the volunteers laid mulch between the fountain grass, pink cone flowers, and black eyed susans.

At the end of the day, the volunteers stood back to survey their work and put their weary paintbrushes and gardening gloves to rest. Thanks to generous donations of paint, mulch, tools, and time, the volunteers’ projects are sure to be the talk of the town for weeks to come.


Youth Act Attends Faces of Leadership Conference
By Liz Bonny, AmeriCorps*VISTA with Youth Act

Youth Act VISTA Liz Bonny traveled with Youth Act student Sarah Sigman to Charleston, WV on July 10th for a three day Faces of Leadership Conference. They attended the Youth Service Leadership Academy, discussing adult-youth partnerships in communities. Sigman was a 7th grade Youth Act student last year at Alexander Middle School in Albany, and along with three other students, helped to establish a recycling program in her middle school. At the conference, Sarah presented with two other individuals during a session on Civic Engagement. Over 50 attendees at the Academy were engaged mentally and physically when learning frameworks for youth-centered community involvement such as service learning and the 40 Developmental Assets. They discussed about ways to strengthen their youth program and develop adult-youth partnerships in their community. The conference was an opportunity to network and share experiences, motivations, and challenges. Both of Rural Action’s Youth Act representatives walked away with new programmatic insights that will move them forward into the new school year and Youth Act’s future.

Children Create Glass Mosaics for Glouster Community Garden
By Chris Tomazic, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

From July 16 to 20, the Sunday Creek Watershed Group held a day camp at Glouster City Park. Thirteen children attended the camp. They received a comprehensive introduction to the Sunday Creek Watershed: everything from macro-invertebrates, to birds, animals and plants. Along with that, the children undertook a service project for the Glouster community. They cleaned and weeded an up-town community flower garden and prepared glass mosaic tiles to be installed at the garden. The glass for the project was pulled out of Sunday Creek by the children early in the week. Friday was a "fun day" at Burr Oak State Park. The children swam and paddled canoes, which were donated free-of-charge by Burr Oak State Park.

SCWG will host another day camp August 6-10 at Althiers Park in Corning. Spots are still available for the camp. Call Emily Boyer at 767-2225 for more information.




Wholesale Produce for Sale in Chesterhill
By Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator

The Chesterhill Produce Auction is owned by Jean and Marvin Conkle, and Rural Action has been helping with the auction since March of 2004. Goods are sold mainly by local Amish farmers, though anyone is welcome to auction their goods. Unlike a farmers market where goods are brought to a specific location, the Chesterhill Produce Auction strives to bring buyers to the farmers (and bringing people into an area can have economic benefits beyond the auction). The auction is also much shorter than a market (generally over in about an hour), and all the produce that is brought is sold that day.

Below are auction prices from July 12, 2007. These prices fluctuate depending on the amount of produce and the number of buyers at the auction. If you're looking for a good deal on bulk produce, definitely check-out the Chesterhill Produce Auction. We plan to continue to update these prices for the remaining growing season, so keep checking back to find great deals.

Tomatoes $1.70 lb.
Sweet Corn $4 doz.
Green Beans $18-20 bushel
onions $.75 lb.
potatoes 1.25 lb.
cabbage 1/2 bushel $6
zucchini 1/2 bushel $4
peppers $8 a peck


The auction goes fast, so be an active bidder. Baked goods are also available, and broccoli, greens, yellow squash and other items. Amish Brown eggs usually available as well as plants, flowers, and more. Consignment auction is scheduled to start Thursday August 2.

Call Jean Konkle at 740-286-3458 if you're interested in bringing something, or if you want more information. The auction is at 8380 Wagoner Rd. Chesterhill Ohio, 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was about this time ten years ago that I "re-upped" for a second year as a VISTA with Rural Action.

Our communities certainly benefit from the specific projects which VISTAs aid through Rural Action. Posssibly even more important is the prparation they receive for future and further growth in community service, either in southeast Ohio or where destiny may take them.

Best of luck to the four of you, and special thanks to Sara, whom I got to see in operation during her service years. The community that will benefit from her presence will be truly lucky.

Lois Whealey