Monday, February 11, 2008

Rural Action News

Community Meeting Initiates A New Beginning for Federal Valley Watershed Group
By Chris Zdinak, VISTA for FVWG and Kelsey McCoy, VISTA for Media

On Thursday, February 7, a group of community members met at the Amesville Grange Hall to discuss the future of Federal Valley Watershed Group (FVWG). The purpose of the meeting was to gauge the community’s interest in meeting the goals of the watershed group. Click here to read a full list of the FVWG goals.

Federal Creek is a tributary of the Hocking River in southeastern Ohio. The watershed covers an area of approximately 145 square miles. Federal Valley Watershed is located within three counties: Athens (88 mi2 ), Morgan (45 mi2 ), and Washington (12 mi2 ). Click here to see a map of the watershed.

The February 7th meeting included a brief presentation by Rural Action Director of Watersheds Mike Steinmaus. Mike told the story of the watershed, beginning with the Amesville floods, which occurred in the late 1990s. This was the genesis of community organization, and over time, landowners and community members came together to address issues in the watershed. An action plan was approved in 2006, and since then, FVWG has provided resources, education, and outreach to community members interested in restoring and preserving the assets in and around Federal Creek.

After Mike’s presentation, the group engaged in a discussion about possibilities for a watershed organization in the coming years. The attendees expressed an interest in holistic management practices, which would take into account all factors influencing the health of the watershed: environmental, social, and cultural. Attendees also shared ideas about possibilities for land use in the watershed area, such as land conservation easements.

At the end of the meeting, attendees expressed an interest in organizing a steering committee to identify how to rebuild a viable watershed group. The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 6 at 7pm at Amesville Grange Hall. Watershed residents and all those interested in planning for the future of the Federal Valley Watershed are encouraged to attend. Contact Chris Zdinak for more information ( or 740-767-4938).

Volunteer and Get First Dibs on Free Seeds
CFI Seed Bagging at Rural Action on Thursday, February 14
By Kelsey McCoy, VISTA for Media

Are you interested in cultivating your very own vegetable garden this year? Ah, there’s nothing better than enjoying the splendor of tomatoes, zucchini, and greens from your own back yard. Here is your opportunity to take home as many FREE seeds as you want by spending a few hours volunteering for Community Food Initiatives (CFI). CFI is a local non-profit based in Athens County. The organization promotes self-sufficiency and a strong local food system.

On Thursday, February 14, CFI will be at Rural Action from 9am-1:30 pm bagging seeds for the 2008 Free Seed Give Away. Volunteers will help put pre-packaged seeds into larger bags. In exchange for your time, you will have first dibs on a spread of seeds of all sorts! Plus, it will be a great opportunity to learn more about CFI, who provide a wealth of information and advice about growing your own food. If you’re interested in volunteering, come on over to Rural Action’s main office in Trimble around 9 am. For more information, contact Rhonda at or 740-593-5971

Youth Act Program Has A Variety of Projects in the Works
By Christine Farr, VISTA for Youth Act

On January 15th I began working at Trimble Middle School with several of Linda Craddock’s “Choices Classes,” which include 115 seventh and eighth graders. In addition to my frequent meetings with students at TMS, I am working with a youth group at Canaanville Methodist Church in Stewart. The program engages 16 youths aged 9 to 18, and meets every Wednesday.

At Trimble Middle School, the students are interested in a variety of exciting projects. With each class, I engaged the students at our first meeting in discussion about assets. They each listed assets of their community and school in their notebooks, then shared what they wrote with the rest of the class. Then, we brainstormed about what they would like to see happen for their school. One group of eighth graders will be working on producing their own movie that will include a dance I will help them choreograph. A group of seventh graders will work on raising money for new sports equipment, which will involve organizing a school dance before spring break. I am working with the group to write a one page funding proposal and cover letter they will send to local organizations like the Glouster Community Bank to help raise money. Another group discussed making a cookbook of their favorite healthy foods. Each of them will have a page in the cookbook with their picture, favorite healthy recipe, a description, and a story of how it was taught it to them. They will create their own page on the computer, and then help sell the book in their community.

At Canaanville Methodist Church, the youth group chose a number of projects: forming a choir that includes kids from Amesville and Federal Hocking Schools, organizing a cleanup project in Stewart, and campaigning to raise awareness about the stray animal problem in Stewart. The choir project is moving right along, and we are working on making a recruitment flyer a few of the students will post in their schools.

If you are interested in getting involved with Youth Act, please contact me at or 740-767-4938.

Rural Renewal Strategy Update
By Katie Durham, VISTA for Rural Renewal

Within the past few weeks, our Steering Committee has really re-vamped the immediate direction that the Learning Circles will be taking. The Circles will be concluding with their next meeting unless they would like to continue on to explore specific program tracks. Subjects that will be discussed during the last series of Learning Circle meetings will be comparing and contrasting the original themes and wishes that came up during the House Parties (from winter 2006), as well as boldly defining various program directions as they would be at their ideal state, and then finding both what assets Rural Action has and doesn’t have in order to make this vision a reality.

The first Learning Circle to meet this year was Energy, who convened on February 11. They have formally decided to move on and become a committee—committing towards the enhancement of membership and delving deeper into specific energy issues and potential programming. The active members include Scott Miller, Dana Carlson, Jeanne Haseley, Lois Whealey, Sarah Watling, and others. We hope to have Matt Bennett in attendance at the next meeting as well, to guide us in the direction of energy auditing opportunities for the region.

Our next, and potentially last, Learning Circle meeting dates are:
  • Community Leadership & Youth:
    • Tuesday, February 26, 5:30-7:00, Rural Action Trimble office
  • Energy:
    • Monday, March 17, 5:30-7:00, The Ridges Building #22
  • Land Restoration:
    • Tuesday, March 18, 5:30-7:00, Rural Action Trimble office.

Membership Update
By Jordan Vincint, VISTA for Development

Rural Action would not be in existence without the kind and generous support of the community. We would like to recognize and thank those who have recently become members:

Gayle Bowling
Caleb Congrove
Cindy and Caty Crabb
Lisa Steinberg