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FSU Students Participate in 2014 Appalachian Teaching Project Impact
Fairmont State News

FSU Students Participate in 2014 Appalachian Teaching Project

Dec 04, 2014

A team of Fairmont State University students has been awarded a $4,000 grant from the ARC as part of the 2014 Appalachian Teaching Project.

The funds will be used to assist with the purchase of materials and travel to attend the annual research presentations on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 6, in Washington, D.C. The following students are participating as part of the FSU team: Tiffany Martin of Fairmont, an Education graduate student; Amanda Madello of Falling Waters, an Architecture major; Caitlin Norwish of Eglon, an Architecture major; Stephanie Shaffer of Grafton, a History major and Folklore Studies minor; Christy Thompson of Barrackville, an Accounting major and Folklore Studies minor; and Leah Yoho of Cameron, an English major and Folklore Studies minor.

The project, “Food Immigrants: From Commercial Success to Heritage Tourism,” is conducted through the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center. The students’ faculty mentor is Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director of the Folklife Center and Abelina Suarez Professor, Senior Level, Professor of Folklore Studies. The ARC has designated Byers as an ARC Appalachian Teaching Fellow for the 2014-2015 academic year.

“Faculty who participate in this project provide the leadership to engage students at a level that goes far beyond a typical classroom experience. We value their effort, their dedication, and their commitment to sustainability of the Appalachian region,” said Earl F. Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the ARC.

The students are exploring whether traditional historical foods from Southern Italy that became commercial economic successes in North Central West Virginia can be the basis for a model to promote cultural heritage tourism for community sustainability.

Students will trace the history of selected Italian food heritages from their origin in Southern Italy to their immigrant arrival in North Central West Virginia in the early 20th century.  In the summer of 2014, three of the students traveled with the Folklife Center’s Roads to Appalachia through Southern Italy travel/study abroad program. Students will also research how these foods have been used  as successful economic endeavors and will formulate a model of how historic awareness, economic success, and more specific understandings can be used for incorporating traditional food ways (along with value added concepts, such as family recipes and history, visual images that tell individual and family stories [early photographs] and celebrations attached to food) in a more creative and educational application for regional festivals, businesses, and programs promoting cultural heritage tourism.

The students selected the following as community partners for their project, and have been meeting with them to assist with their research:

  • West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival, Clarksburg
  • Three Rivers Festival, Fairmont
  • Feast of the Seven Fishes Festival, Fairmont
  • Oliverio’s, Clarksburg
  • Country Club Bakery, Fairmont
  • Muriale’s Italian Restaurant, Fairmont
  • Julio’s Restaurant, Clarksburg
  • Colasessano’s Restaurant, Fairmont
  • Tutti Gallotto Café, Morgantown
  • Minard’s Family Restaurant, Clarksburg
  • Rosalyn Queen Alonso, consultant,

Led by the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, a coalition of 16 Appalachian Studies organizations in higher education, the Appalachian Teaching Project supports student research and strengthens leadership skills. The initiative offers students a unique opportunity to conduct active community research and present their findings to an audience of their peers and ARC administrators and staff. For more information about the ATP, visit

The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage, through academic studies, educational programs, festivals and performances and publications. For more information about the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, visit


College of Liberal ArtsFolklife CenterfolkloreAppalachianJudy P. Byers