To continue my work from my sustainability capstone last semester, I have been working with the same group of students and faculty this semester to continue the second year of the project working on the Appalachian Resilience Project in Fayette County. More specifically, I have been completing an internship with Dr. Kris Kanthak to assist in the creation of the Learning and Education on the Appalachian Diaspora and Region (LEADR) learning community. Part of our goals include researching and writing grant applications, planning community events, and continuing research on the urban/ rural divide. I really look forward to the expansion of our project from last semester into different parts of Fayette County and getting more students on campus involved. It has surprised me how many people we have to reach out to to get this off the ground. I did not realize just how many people have to be hands on on a project within the University to get it started. I cannot wait to see this project hopefully start by the end of the semester and seeing what it will become in upcoming semesters.
Additionally, I am currently working on writing the final report of our group’s work with Fayette County and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Once completed, this report will be submitted to the Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) so they can see all of the work we have done and how we are spending our grant money towards this project. Moving forward, though, we still have yet to see the template for this year’s final report so we have just been starting this based on last year’s submission. It is exciting to me to review everything we accomplished last semester and know that it is being continued. For example, our Celebrate Uniontown Proposal is getting recognition among the local Uniontown government and new social media accounts have just been created for them as we suggested. Working with high school students that have an interest in their hometown is exactly what we wanted and needed in our project to address the brain drain going on. Our efforts to increase communication to the community and have students be more engaged in their local government will expectantly create a stronger community that people will want to stay involved with. Overall, even though the updates on out project seem to happen slowly, I am proud of the progress we are making and really anticipate what is to come.