Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Join AmeriCorps*VISTA Volunteers for Make a Difference Day
By Tori Patterson, AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader

The largest national day of community service, Make a Difference Day, is coming up on Saturday, October 27 and the Rural Action AmeriCorps* VISTAs would like to offer you a great opportunity to join the nationwide effort.

For their annual Make a Difference Day project, AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers at Rural Action will be hosting an orientation to the American Red Cross (ARC) on Saturday 27 from 10am to 2pm at the Trimble office. Participants will learn how to become more involved with the ARC and begin training for disaster response in Southeast Ohio, including house fires and natural disasters. The event is open to the public; there is a need for more ARC-trained community members in Athens County (particularly in the Trimble/Jacksonville/Glouster area), so all community members are encouraged to attend and learn more.

Following the information session, there will be a tasty potluck lunch and an opportunity for participants to assemble comfort kits for the ARC to use in future local disasters. Comfort kits provide basic personal care items for victims of disaster and include:
  • Toothbrushes
  • Combs
  • Travel size toothpaste
  • Disposable razors
  • Toothbrush covers
  • Travel size shampoo
  • Travel size tissues
  • Travel size deodorant
  • Soap
Many local businesses, healthcare providers, and community members are joining this effort by donating supplies for the comfort kits and/or a few dollars to purchase supplies.

If you would like to be join us on the 27th or donate supplies, please call Tori Patterson at 740-767-4938.

All donations are needed before Friday, October 26th.

To learn more about the ARC in Southeast Ohio, visit the Athens chapter website:

More on Make a Difference Day:

Created by USA Weekend Magazine 17 years ago to celebrate neighbors helping neighbors, Make a Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of October. Make a Difference Day Ohio was established in 2000 to promote and coordinate Ohioans’ participation, and as a result, Ohio has led the nation in number of service projects every year since.

If you would like to create your own project for Make a Difference Day, follow these four easy steps:
1. Identify a need in your community
2. Plan a project
3. Register your project (to publicize & recruit volunteers)
4. Report accomplishments (to be counted among the volunteers & be considered for state and national recognition and awards)
Anyone can participate! Visit for more info.

Ohio University Supports Chesterhill Produce Auction
By Kelsey McCoy, Americorps*VISTA for Media

Since August 2007, Ohio University Dining patrons have been treated to fresh produce from the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA). Located in Chesterhill, Ohio, about 35 minutes northeast of Athens in Morgan County, this wholesale food venue is in its third year. Owned and operated by Jean and Marvin Konkle, local growers, including members of the Chesterhill Amish Community, supply the produce for the auction.

The Konkles started the auction to address economic needs of the community. The auction acts as a middle wholesale operation to build connections between institutional buyers, such as Ohio University, and local growers. This strengthens food systems in Appalachian Ohio. “Having institutional buyers at the auction helps to raise the stature of our business. It strengthens sales and draws attention to the quality available locally,” Jean Konkle said.

Matt Rapposelli, Executive Chef at Ohio University, said the high quality of the produce at the market has generated an overwhelmingly positive response from patrons. “Since we started acquiring produce from the Chesterhill Auction, our students and customers have noticed the huge difference in flavor and appearance of the items we purchased there. The response has been so positive that we are already making plans for the next growing season.”

Rapposelli is also excited about the opportunity to strengthen the reciprocal relationship between students and the surrounding community.
“Making a connection between our students and a local food network is priceless. Not only are we feeding our patrons the best our region has to offer, but we are helping to make a positive difference for those who have dedicated themselves to working the land,” Rapposelli said.

The CPA agrees that adding Ohio University as a customer is making a positive difference for both parties. Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture, a member of the CPA Steering Committee who has contributed volunteers and marketing support since the auction’s inception in 2004, works to connect local growers with institutional buyers such as Ohio University. Tom Redfern, Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, said that this partnership is “not only helping Ohio University decrease their carbon footprint, but also allowing Ohio University to contribute to building community.”

Bob Fedyski, an AmeriCorps*Volunteer in Service to America currently serving with Rural Acton Sustainable Agriculture, said it is a thrill to see Ohio University contribute to local food security and in turn positively affect the community. “As an active observer of the CPA, I’ve witnessed a burst of energy since Ohio University started buying there. Not only does their presence stimulate the bidding process, but also has resulted in renewed commitment by growers for the coming growing season. Many farmers discussed how Ohio University will serve to stimulate their economy, creating opportunity for growth,” Fedyski said.

As Ohio University continues to purchase local produce, they are investing in local economies, which results in increased energy and stronger connections with community. And nothing can beat hand selecting fresher, more nutritious local produce.

Learning Circles Update
By Katie Durham, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Rural Renewal

This week we have already had two Learning Circle meetings: Monday night (15th) was the dialogue on Economic Vitalization, and Tuesday evening (16th) we had the Community Leadership & Youth discussion. Both are well on their way toward some serious brainstorming for the future of Rural Action!

We have officially decided to change the name of the Economic Vitalization Learning Circle to “Sustainable Economies.” Our leader, Reverend Bill Carroll, PhD (at the Church of the Good Shepard) has determined that this may draw in a larger crowd with the key word of “sustainability” in the title, considering how closely related this is to the long-term objective of Rural Action. A short-term—yet very crucial—goal of the Sustainable Economies Learning Circle is publicity: getting our name out there so that we can in turn continue to make connections with the various local businesses in the area. These connections will be able to help further facilitate the job opportunities available to those individuals in the under-served regions of Appalachian Ohio. Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 6 at 5:30 pm in the small meeting room of the Athens Public Library. All are welcome!

Our Community Leadership & Youth Learning Circle’s discussion took place on Tuesday evening, at the Church Lutheran Church in Athens. This group has an incredible amount of fresh ideas floating around for future Rural Action programs: anywhere from establishing a local apprenticeship program for those not interested/able to attend a university, to installing a series in which capably trained citizens could assist the local high school youth in filling our financial aid forms for college. The future pegging of this group’s ideas are unknown, but whatever they are, they are sure to be both fresh and consequential to the impact of Rural Action! Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 20 at 5:30 pm in the Student Center Building of the Christ Lutheran Church on Mill Street in Athens. And again, all are welcome!

We also have four Learning Circle discussion times set up for next week:
  • Energy on Monday, October 22 at 7:00 pm, The Ridges Building #22
  • Land Restoration on Tuesday, October 23 at 5:30 pm, Rural Action’s Trimble office
  • Building Collaboration & Political Power on Wednesday, October 24 at 3:30 pm, Glouster Public Library
  • Health, on Wednesday, October 24 at 5:30 pm in the small meeting room of the Athens Public Library.
Please contact Katie with any questions by calling 740-767-4938.

Check out
This great article about a recent Rural Action Native Plant Rescue
It ran in the Athens Messenger on Thursday, October 11.

Rural Action To Be Represented at Clean Streams Practicum Fall Training

Interim Director Mary Steinmaus and Environments Director Mike Steinmaus will be presenting at the Clean Streams Practicum Fall Training in Mullens, West Virginia on October 26 and 27. Their presentation will cover Rural Action's mission, sustainable development strategies, and watershed restoration plans. The Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team is hosting this event, which is the second of two training retreats. The trainings will focus on water quality monitoring and fiscal sustainability for coal country watershed non-profits. For more information or specific questions about the training, contact Duncan Wilson, 304-461-3132 or


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