Fairmont State University students enrolled in the Preserving Appalachian Culture class presented “Rail Beds to Trail Beds: Moving Forward through the Past,” at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on November 13, 2019.
Alicia Erjevec, Garrett Riffle, and Christina Satterfield have been guided through this semester-long project by instructors, Lynette Swiger and Connie Boggs. Part of the “The Appalachian Teaching Project,” the intent of this class is to engage students with the community in an effort to better understand of how we can make a better future for West Virginia. The goals of the ATP are to improve economic opportunities, ready the workforce, create critical infrastructure, utilize natural assets, and increase leadership and community capacity.
With help from Tony Michalski from MCPARC, Chris Mclntire of Marion County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Leisha Elliot of Marion County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and Monongah Elementary School Principal Kim Higgins, students and teachers, the Fairmont State University students created signs for historic locations that will be placed on the rail trail in Marion County. The signs will be coupled with QR codes. Using the codes, visitors to the rail trail will be able to access a sight where they can hear students from Monongah Elementary School talking about each historical place. The places include the Phone Box, the Monongah Heroine Statue, and the Monongah Cemetery.
The Appalachian Regional Commission funds the Appalachian Teaching Project through at grant. The students will be traveling to Washington D.C. to present their project on December 6-7, 2019. Students from 15 colleges and universities in the Appalachian region will present projects at this conference. Fairmont State University is the only university from West Virginia being represented in this conference.
The Appalachian Teaching Project is open to all Fairmont State University students. Many of the students who participate in the project are working on academic minors in folklore or museum studies. Students in these programs take courses and gain practical experience through the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center. The Folklife Center’s mission is to preserve West Virginia’s cultural heritage. For additional information about the Appalachian Teaching Project or the Folklife Center, please call Dr. Francene Kirk at 304-367-4403.