Interning with Pitt Faculty for the ATP


My name is Jessica Jones, and I am a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. Last semester in the fall of 2022, I was in the sustainability capstone course to fulfill a requirement for the sustainability certificate. When I first started the class and chose a project, I did not know or expect my future involvement with the Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP). During this project, my team focused on Connellsville and Uniontown in Fayette County PA to study and try to improve the regional economic and social sustainability. The Appalachian Teaching Project works with universities throughout the Appalachian region to do exactly this and create initiatives for different communities. Some of the areas our group focused on heavily were the tourism opportunities, transportation, local businesses, and other assets in the community to help the local governments invest in things that would support the future economic state of their communities. Our final deliverables that we presented both in Fayette County and at the ATP Annual Conference in Washington D.C. included updated asset maps of the area and our “Celebrate Uniontown Proposal” which suggested an internship program with the local high school students, website updates and social media presence and a variety of grants that the local government could apply for to benefit the economy. Fast forwarding to the beginning of the spring 2023 semester, all of us working on this project previously have been offered internship opportunities with the Fayette County Cultural Trust and faculty at the University of Pittsburgh involved in the project to further our research and work with the local governments to implement our deliverables from last semester. I will be working alongside Dr. Kristin Kanthak to apply for grants and report on them, as well as creating a new program called Learning and Education on the Appalachian Diaspora and Region (LEADR) and starting focus groups for students to be involved in. I believe creating these new programs will increase the engagement of students studying the Appalachian Region and help research more of the urban-rural divide that many places experience. I really look forward to learning how to create a learning community such as the one we intend to make and the process in which we go about this. Additionally, I am excited to see a new group of students be brought into this project to help us create more progress in our research of Fayette County and establishing the deliverables we came up with last semester.

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