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22 incredible projects were awarded in 2021 - check out what's happening in your community!

Catalyst  for Change / Chi Lin Yoga has partnered with Try This for four years to bring healthy activities to the children of Charleston's West Side. This year, they'll be cooking up a mix of healthy cooking and tai chi.

Try This had a select round of minigrants in February 2022 for Southern WV. These nine projects are underway, with statewide applications opening in May for our annual June cycle. Keep an eye out for more information!





The Epicenter Growing Strong:

The Growing Strong program is designed to bring raised bed and drip irrigation technology to the local community center. The Epicenter will provide the space necessary to construct beds for the production of healthy food that will be built, planted, watered, harvested and consumed by the families who are members of this unique health promotion center. The team will develop a new healthy form of concession stand that offers organic natural snacks as well as fruit chillers and smoothies, utilizing produce grown on site. WVU Extension will teach two sessions on soil quality and care, and the Extension food specialist has planned five teen cuisine sessions. The team also will develop a patch for raspberry and blueberry cultivation as permacrops, and will add strawberries in the future.

Project Lead: Ruston Seaman,


Brownton Community Garden (BARBOUR & TAYLOR):

This Community youth group, which is youth-led and adult-supervised, will build and maintain a community garden at the youth community center. Local farmers will mentor students as they grow vegetables and herbs. The first harvest will be distributed to residents in the community with mobility issues. WHO will offer cooking demonstrations using produce from the garden. This project will help develop youth leadership skills and impact a food desert community.

Project Lead: Samantha George, Brownton Helping Hands CFO,




Using Resources Effectively (BERKELEY & MONONGALIA & PRESTON):

This team will teach limited-resource families to identify nutritious food options at variety discount stores and use them to prepare healthy meals and to take advantage of food pantry items in healthy meal preparation. This innovative FNP Eat Smart Be Active (ESBA) curriculum features interactive cooking demonstrations utilizing food pantry items, “supper in a sack” to try at home, a tour of a variety discount store, and gift certificates to a variety discount store for purchase of nutritious foods. Piloted lesson materials will be incorporated into regular FNP classes conducted by FNP Nutrition Outreach Instructors in Preston, Berkeley, and Monongalia Counties. With each class, instructors will demonstrate a recipe using food pantry items.

Project Lead: Karin Kozlowski,




Active Pathways:

This team will paint activity stencils in How many? Fayette County playgrounds and activity centers for kids and families to use free. An exercise physiologist will determine stencil placement.  A local Sherwin Williams store will supply paint supplies. Active Southern WV and Key 4 Healthy Kids will supply volunteers to paint Pathways at a school, daycare center, community center, and other areas. The team will offer training on effective uses of the pathways and encourage the use as part of daily classwork, special events, and evening classes.

Project Lead: Noel Mitchell,


Fayetteville PK-8 Disc Golf Course:

In collaboration with New River Gorge Disc Golf and Active Southern WV, this team will install a 9-hole disc golf course on the grounds of Fayetteville PK-8 campus.  The team will incorporate volunteer and donated labor. Student-led academic projects will promote and maintain the course. It will be used for programming that includes educational curriculum, community events and recreational opportunities.  New River Gorge Disc Golf will design the course and be a lasting partner for this course.  STEM students of Fayetteville PK-8 will design and produce the course signage and create the QR code programming and maintain the website and digital components of the course. The disc golf will be available for public use.

Project Lead: Tara Fowler,


New Roots Community Space:

This team will create a new community gathering/workshop space for Fayette County by building picnic tables, benches, and a wood-fire oven next to the main building on the New Roots Community Farm in Fayetteville, a community education organization and agricultural cooperative. Visitors and staff can use the space to present workshops, hold meetings, promote collaboration on healthy food issues, and teach people how to prepare healthy food.  Classes will be offered in wood-fired cooking and wood-fire stove construction.

Project Lead: Skye Dexter,





Tanner Community Outdoor Fitness:

This team’s goal is to improve healthy physical activity access for primarily elderly residents of the isolated Tanner Community. They will purchase outdoor, weather-durable exercise stations and playground equipment to be placed at the Tanner Community Center. This equipment will be available to the public for free.  This project will include purchase and installation of six machines designed to provide a balanced workout for all areas of the body and fitness levels. While this project is aimed at providing exercise to seniors. The local Girls Scouts will help develop and execute the project.

Project Lead: Jessica Greenlief,




Weirton Christian Center Community Garden:

This team will build and maintain 50 raised garden beds including 10 ADA handicap-accessible beds. This community garden will be located on property leased from New Life Church across the street from the Weirton Christian Center. There will be space for a few fruit trees, a potato bed, a pollinator garden, compost, mulch, straw bins, grape arbor, and an 18’x20’ pavilion for the gardeners. The arbor will also be a space to hold gardening education classes with our WCC students from preschool through middle school, as well as the general community. Community members will be able to take home their own produce from their beds to enjoy, or will donate to the local food bank.

Project Lead: Deronda Bruich,


Agri-cation for Hardy Youth:

The Agri-cation team will hold a local food agriculture and nutrition education session for students in grades 3-5 at two Hardy County schools in the spring. The Hardy County Food Service Director, the Culinary Education teachers at both schools, the Potomac Highlands Producers Co-op, and local farmers and producers are on the team (?). In the fall, the team will set up mock farmers markets to give students a real-world experience “grocery shopping” while teaching them about healthy food choices. They will receive coupons for shopping and get to take their produce home.

Project Lead: John W. Riggs,


Shinnston Community Garden:

A 10,000 sq. ft. space, owned by the City of Shinnston, will be developed as a community garden by the minigrant team, which will use multiple gardening methods to compare efficiency in terms of crop yield. They will carefully document and evaluate the harvest. Gardening methods include raised beds, grow bags, pallet gardening, and aeroponic gardening. Local Boy Scouts will help construct 20 raised beds for community use. To engage youth and provide an educational opportunity, the team will establish an educational youth program called "Starting from Seeds." Produce from a portion of the garden will be distributed through The Lord’s Pantry, and volunteers from the community will help manage and maintain the space.

Project Lead: Jon Olsen,


Mill Creek Water Trail RESTART:

This team will restart a project that was suspended due to COVID. The Friends of Mill Creek have revived the “Second Sunday Floats,” a family-friendly adventure float with healthy food and snack options after the float. They will revive the “Mill Creek Adventure Day” with interactive activities on the courthouse lawn for school-aged children to introduce them to the role streams and waterways play in our daily lives. The project team will also revive the “Try-A-Tri”, a mini triathlon with biking, running, and kayaking for school-age children. Partners include Project Learning Tree (DOF); WV Save our Streams (DEP); WV Project WET (DEP); WV Division of Natural Resources (snake education); and WV Youth Environmental Program (DEP). A workshop will be offered to other state watershed groups to attend and will be held at Cedar Lakes. High school students will help with a Mill Creek Clean-up Day in the fall.

Project Lead: Sally Blessing,


CVT Trail Kiosk:

Camp Virgil Tate, a 4H camp that reaches more than 1,400 youth each year, will develop a beginner-friendly and clearly-marked trail system open to campers and the public. Staff will enlist the help of skilled volunteers (such as carpenters and electricians) to construct a trail kiosk to help hikers find the appropriate trail. Camp Virgil Tate staff and volunteers will then coordinate a volunteer day with Kanawha County Master Gardeners to gravel, plant, mulch and finish the area around the kiosk. Other partners, including Southern District 4-H Horse Camp, will help ensure that final trail maps are accurate and easy to understand. Trails will also be added to a digital trail database, AllTrails. For more information, visit

Project Lead: Jason Young,


Kids Who Cook “R” Kool:

This eight-week pilot project will bring kids from a distressed area of Charleston together for cooking and nutrition classes, prepared and guided by registered dietician Stephanie Lanham. The group of fifteen students will meet once a week to learn basic culinary skills using kitchen tools that are child-sized and child-safe.  Through hands-on and interactive experiences provided by volunteer chefs and culinary arts students, assisted by team members, the kids will create delicious dishes that they can go home and recreate in their home kitchens. This project will also incorporate instructor-led Tai Chi for mindfulness exercises.

Project Lead: Ron Wilkerson,


Lewis County 5K Triple Crown:

This team will host three 5K races over the next year. The first will be a costume run during October in partnership with Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. The second race will be the traditional road race in the community of Ireland in spring of 2022. The third will be a summer trail race on a trail that is currently under volunteer construction. The 5K on the new trail will highlight the growth of trail activities in Lewis County.  The three races will share one health fair and race exposition to kick off the series.

Project Lead: Victoria Stansberry,


Potomac Valley Hospital FARMacy Program:

Potomac Valley Hospital will provide 15 patients from Mineral County Rural Healthcare Clinic with a 12-week FARMacy program and document the impact of the program. MCRHC's staff will identify patients with diagnosed health concerns like diabetes and hypertension, and track progress through labs and pre/post tests to demonstrate how impactful prescribing healthy food can be for patients. PVH Preventive Medicine will also provide education and activities on healthy lifestyles, food benefits, and recipes to promote the message "Food is Medicine". Mineral County’s Family Resource Network will provide community resource presentations and have small incentive items to give participants.

Project Lead: Patricia Barbarito,


In Our Backyard:

Catholic Charities of Neighborhood Center will partner with Project Rebound and Mark’s House, a local recovery home, to convert the backyard of the Neighborhood Center’s Marion House property into an outdoor activity space available to the neighborhood for outdoor games such as cornhole and giant chess and scheduled classes such as dance and yoga. Residents will be able to try their hand at gardening in three new raised beds constructed from recycled pallet wood.

Project Lead: Latrisha Whitelatch,


Jump In!:

Grow Ohio Valley & Laughlin Chapel are planting the seeds of a local youth jump rope league with a 6-week summer program in the East Wheeling community. With the support of Nelson Jordan Center, classes will be offered three days a week and will include introductory jump rope coaching – teaching both single-rope, as well as double-dutch skills. New skills will be introduced as kids are finding success or showing interest in adding new jump rope tricks to their repertoire.

Project Lead: Mizan (Z) Ali,


Sensory Play for PreK - Woodsdale Sensory Playground:

This team will build a sensory playground that meets the needs of children ages 2-5. This playground can help children with sensory processing issues find ways to comfortably play and engage. Each element has been researched and chosen by students from the West Liberty University Outdoor Learning Spaces Class. Students from Ohio County Career and Technical Education (CTE) will build the playground, including six spots for “loose parts” play, a reading space, a mud kitchen, a double sand/water table, and a sensory wall. With a shared use agreement with the City of Wheeling, this space will be open to the community.

Project Lead: Kathleen Wack,




Yoga in the Park:

This team will purchase free-standing yoga stands and yoga mats to offer free aerial yoga and regular yoga classes in the park for teens and adults in the local area, starting with those in the Boys and Girls Club of Pleasants County. The yoga instructor at Mindfulness LLC (aka Mindfulness Holistic Health and Wellness) will host teen classes. There will also be a separate series of classes hosted for adult yoga students. In total, this team will offer 20 teen classes and 20 adult classes by the end of the summer. In the winter, classes will move to the gymnasium or another room at the Boys and Girls Club of Pleasants County, COVID permitting.

Project Lead: Donna Linsell,




Rowlesburg Is for Families: Improving Rowlesburg Park’s Safety and Appeal:

This team will improve the safety and attractiveness of the Rowlesburg City Park playground area, and revitalize the park’s existing field space for more sport activities. This project is the next step in a broader plan to revitalize and improve the park space, making it a hub for outdoor community activity and a destination for recreation in southern Preston County.

Project Lead: Phil Wotring,




Randolph County Community Garden:

This team will construct a community garden and greenhouse at the Phil Gainer Community Center. After the garden is built, they will offer six community garden classes focusing on how to plant and maintain your own garden. Once the garden becomes fruitful, WVU Extension will provide canning courses. These classes will be held once a month at the Community Center. Community volunteers will help manage, maintain and promote the garden.

Project Lead: Gillian Adams,




Upshur County Trails Updates:

The Upshur County Trails volunteer team will expand the existing 7 miles of trails with another mile of fully-developed and usable trail. They will spend over 200 volunteer hours clearing the new portion of the trail system. Local businesses will provide equipment rental for excavation, graphic designers for map and trail signage, and also signage for exclusively WV-native plants along the trails. This trail is open to the public but connects to the Buckhannon-Upshur High School campus, so teachers and students can continue to use it during the school day.

Project Lead: Rachel Weber,

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