Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Faces of Rural Action

It's AmeriCorps VISTA recruiting season, and we've got plenty of new faces around the office. Kelsey McCoy (from Oxford, OH) will be taking over media development, Chris Zdinak will be working with the Federal Valley Watershed Group and Katie Durham will be taking over duties with the Rural Renewal Strategy.

It's fitting that Kelsey McCoy (OU '07, journalism), will be taking over duties of Rural Action's blog-newsletter because she's previously had a hand in the blog-o-sphere. Kelsey spent her '06-07 winter break blogging for a Baton Rouge-based magazine, 225. "My parents had just moved to Batton Rouge, and I was looking for an internship over break. I called up 225 and they let me write a blog! Basically, I got to explore Baton Rouge (museums, farmers' markets, etc.) and write about it." In addition to her blog, The New McCoy, Kelsey assisted with wrote articles and general intern work (though she never brewed any coffee!).

"The Internet is something that really interest me," said Kelsey, "especially as it relates to media reform. The Internet is easy to use and broadly accessible, meaning it has the potential to develop into a truely democratic media outlet. Where print, radio and television are one-way media, the wonder of the web is it's potential for conversation. And, it's far less commercial."

Kelsey has also written for the InterActivist (a local, progressive news magazine), and she's volunteered with the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network (APJN). In her free time, Kelsey enjoys reading (she's just finished The History of Love), live music (especially local band The Jazz Workshop), hiking, camping and writing.


While Kelsey was busy in the deep south, Chris Zdinak (University of Cincinnati '06, environmental studies) was busy in the far north, Alaska to be precise. From December '06 to March '07, Chris worked with the Alaska Marine Fishery Service travelling with fishing boats and recording info about their catches. "The first boat I was on spent 28 days on the water without going to port - talk about sea sick!" said Chris. "After Alaska, I went back to Cincinnati and tested water filters in Proctor & Gamble's Pure Water Lab."

Chris decided to work with the Federal Valley Watershed Group for two reasons. First, it's close to his home town of Richmond, OH. Second, he'd like to see the other side of water quality policy. "I've done the scientific side: lab work, testing and the like. I want to experience working with local people to understand and use that research for the improvement of their region," said Chris.

In his free time, Chris enjoys the outdoors, especially hiking, rock climbing and slacklining. He also enjoys reading, and right now he's working on Inventing the AIDS Virus.


Katie Durham (University of Dayton, '07 sociology and international studies) started her service with Rural Action today! On top of that, she's new to Athens, having moved here just a few days ago. "I'm enjoying Athens," said Katie. "The people are very down-to-earth, and it's wonderful to be in a city designed for walking!"

Katie spent time volunteering with a homeless eradication group in Dayton called The Other Place. She says that part of the attraction of Rural Action was being in a completely new environment. "I've spent time working in an urban setting," said Katie, "and now I'm looking forward to working in a rural area."

Katie hopes to pursue a master's degree in social work after AmeriCorps and eventually get into international social work. "International social work is like classical social work, but on a larger scale. Instead of working one-on-one with clients, I'll work with entire groups of people."

In her free time, Katie's been listening to a book-on-tape (Saving Fish From Drowning). She also enjoys reading maps. And, she enjoys peace as a personal philosophy.

We're looking forward to a great year of service, Kelsey, Chris and Katie!

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