Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Huff Run Fall Tour Highlights Projects in the Watershed
By Maureen Wise, Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership Coordinator

Around 20 participants gathered for the Huff Run Fall Tour on October 18. The crowd included academia, interested citizens, government representatives, Ohio Department of Natural Resources representatives and Huff Run members. The group first ate lunch at the Crossroads Restaurant in Magnolia and then traveled via two 15 passenger vans to the project sites. The Tour consisted of the Mineral Zoar Road project, a hike around the Lyons project and a discussion about Belden near its confluence with Huff Run. For more information about these and other Huff Run Projects, visit the Huff Run Website. Rural Action's US EPA Targeted Watershed Grant funded the program.

Photo: Participants in the Huff Run Tour hike the Lyons Project.

AmeriCorps VISTAs and Friends of Rural Action Make a Difference
By Tori Patterson, AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader

The AmeriCorps VISTA service project for Make a Difference Day 2007
was a great success. On Saturday, October 27, Executive Director of the Athens County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Sandy Shirey, gave an informative presentation about disaster relief in Southeast Ohio and provided opportunities for volunteers to become more involved with ARC work.

Following Sandy’s presentation and a potluck lunch, Rural Action staff, VISTAs and friends assembled ARC comfort kits – containing personal care essentials to be distributed to disaster victims – with items donated by local businesses and healthcare providers.

In the weeks leading up to MDD, the VISTAs collected over 200 toothbrushes, 60 bottles of shampoo and conditioner, 75 toothpastes, and much more. We’d like to thank the following local businesses for contributing items for the kits:
Conrath Family Dental Care, Dr. Charles Fulks, DDS, Dr. James Deborah, DDS, Regis Hairstylists, Hampton Inn, and Holiday Inn Express.

With these items, we assembled 20 full kits for the ARC and have plenty of materials left over to assemble more in the future. After this training, several VISTAs and community members are looking forward to becoming more involved and continuing their training with the ARC.

Proceedings Available for Invasive Plant Management Training

By Jeff Hardin, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Sustainable Forestry

On October 13, the Rural Action Sustainable Forestry and Sustainable Agriculture Programs hosted Invasive Plant Management Trainings. The trainings, held at the Federal Valley Resource Center Auditorium in Stewart, Ohio, covered identification, control, and other issues related to the impact of invasive plant species affecting Ohio’s ecology.

Those of you who missed our Invasive Plant Management Training can still get the valuable information presented at the workshop. Proceedings for the training are available by request, as well as an Invasive Plant Information Packet. Call Jeff at 740-767-2090 or email at

The Proceedings and Information Packet include information about invasive plant species, which are classified as vegetation that has been intentionally or unintentionally introduced into a new environment and has begun to spread rapidly, impacting the local environment. Tree of Heaven, Garlic Mustard and Japanese Stilt Grass are examples of invasive plant species.

Speakers at the training included: Dr. Brian McCarthy of the Ohio University Department of Environmental and Plant Biology; Ann Bonner, State Urban Forester; Rory Lewandowski of Ohio State University Extension; Cheryl Coon, Botanist for the Wayne National Forest; and Doug Albaugh from Friends of the Lower Muskingum. Topics included Tree of Heaven control and current research, controlling invasive plants with livestock, and general invasive identification.

These trainings were partially funded through the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program of the USDA.

Federal Valley Haunted House: A Frighteningly Good Time
By Kelsey McCoy, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

On Thursday, October 25, several VISTAs and friends dressed in costume and makeup to enjoy Halloween in the most hands-on way: acting in one of over fifteen Federal Valley Fright Nights.

The Federal Valley Resource Center, located in Stewart, Ohio, holds an annual fundraiser that year after year has utilized the ramshackle unused building behind the Resource Center’s main office. However, this year’s Fright Nights were forced outdoors due to a mandate made by the Fire Code Enforcement Agency. But Emily Beveridge and Todd Dean, organizers of the event, were not discouraged. They hauled the entire haunt outside, and braved any chance of rain or cold weather by banking on the community’s long-standing urge to be scared to pieces in the spirit of Halloween.

Donning costumes varying from a Big Foot Suit, a 10-foot Grim Reaper costume, and an evil doctor’s blood soaked lab coat, Rural Action volunteers enjoyed jumping out from corners, playing dead, and screaming bloody murder—all for the patrons’ entertainment.

The Resource Center held the Fright Nights every weekend in October and are happy to report that despite the last-minute closure of the indoor Haunt, the turn-out still brought in donations for the Federal Valley Resource Center.

Learning Circles Updates

By Katie Durham, AmeriCorps*VISTA for the Rural Renewal Strategy

The past few weeks’ individual Learning Circle meetings have unintentionally crossed paths, and fortunately there is unquestionably a common theme and value that each Circle is embracing: the issues of energy and education in Southeast Ohio.

The Community Leadership & Youth Learning Circle is seriously conversing the idea of installing an apprenticeship program in the region—perhaps one that would keep small businesses locally sustainable, or maybe even incorporating some formal training for future job opportunities in the thriving alternative energy market of the region.

Sustainable Economies, the Learning Circle formerly known as “Economic Vitalization,” is focusing their agenda on creating a more open, honest, and amicable market for local growers and buyers in the area. This would be tackled by taking the educational route towards more awareness for the opportunities available. The Sustainable Economies Learning Circle is also intentionally deliberating about the future of jobs in the area, again keeping in mind the ever expanding alternative energy market and exactly for whom those services are available.

And finally, the Energy Learning Circle is primarily spotlighting their vigor towards a program in environmental learning—this would be geared solely towards more conservation management, instead of providing somewhat costly services to those outside of Athens.

All in all, it is very possible that the future of Rural Action will be fairly concentrated fleshing out the topics of education and energy management with our lower income target group.

AmeriCorps VISTAs Contribute over 30,000 Hours of Community Service in 2007

We are excited to share the total 2007 stats for our AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program, as compiled by Candi Withem, VISTA/Human Resources Director at Rural Action. The statistics include our VISTA Partner organizations for the first two quarters of 2007. Our partners include: Stuarts Opera House; Dairy Barn Arts Center; Federal Valley Resource Center; Friends of Lower Muskingum River, Inc.; and Rural Appalachian Housing Development.

Our VISTAs recruited and involved 2,346 community volunteers in programs to benefit southeastern Ohio, 1,020 of which were Baby Boomer volunteers. Better yet, the volunteers collectively contributed 30,859 hours of service! And as for money, the dollar value of cash resources developed by VISTA members tops out at $110,534. Finally, the dollar value of non-cash resources developed by VISTA members is $108,165.

Photo: 2006-2007 VISTA Adam Fitch works with local youth during last summer's Watershed Day Camp.

Rural Action's Annual Fundraising Breakfast is Just Around the Corner

Our days are getting exciting at the Trimble Office as the Development and Communication Team gears up for our Annual Fundraising Breakfast on November 15 from 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. at the Athens Community Center. We are grateful to have committed Table Captains, who are adding to our guest list every day. The menu is in its final stages, as Bob Fedyski, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Sustainable Agriculture, sources local ingredients and breakfast goodies to highlight the Southeastern Ohio harvest. As the date rapidly approaches, we are all looking forward to a successful and enjoyable celebration of Rural Action's vision. If you would like to attend the event, and haven't already reserved a seat, please call Tori, 740-767-4938 by Monday, November 12.

Winter Edition of Rural Action's Newsletter, the
Rural Report, is Online!

Click here to download the latest Rural Action newsletter.


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