9 new projects were awarded in February in our Southern WV Region, with 20 more added across the state in June. That's 29 projects in 2022! Check out our "Minigrants" page to learn how you can add your project to the list in the future.

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Try This had a select round of minigrants in February 2022 for Southern WV. These 9 projects began then, with 20 new ones starting in the June cycle. Keep an eye out for more information on projects in the future, including in the Mid-Ohio Valley in the fall and youth-led minigrants in the spring of 2023!

2022-2023 MINIGRANT PROJECTS:

BARBOUR

JJ The Health Mobilization Bus (JUNE):

The Epicenter has been a Try This partner for years, and this mobile unit is the next step in impacting youth in Barbour and surrounding counties. This mobile bus will use minigrant funding to complete renovations, purchase supplies, and make it possible for this bus to visit not just rural youth in Barbour County, but in several surrounding counties as well. The Epicenter believes providing youth with positive engagement is the best prevention, and this team has a wonderful team of volunteers and staff helping youth find empowerment, leadership experience, and a safe place that values healthy mindsets, healthy activities, and healthy food.

Project Lead: Ruston Seaman, ruston@nvre.org

What the Health (JUNE):

With the help of a volunteer team, Brownton Helping Hands at the Brownton Community Center will purchase and set up exercise equipment for classes for both local youth and the senior and/or physically disabled community. This organization serves a small, rural region of Barbour County and is an identified food desert. During these classes, instructors will lead members of the community through a series of workouts, and the workout equipment will also be available to the community to use on their own time. The project team also plans to schedule other classes centered around healthy eating and living to benefit the Brownton Community.

Project Lead: Tiffany Davis, browntonhelp2019@gmail.com

BERKELEY

Healthy Eating Assistance Program (JUNE):

Congregational Community Action Project and Loaves & Fishes (CCAP/L&F) is partnering with Orr’s Farm Market to provide fresh produce to their clients in Berkeley County. Orr's Farm Market will deliver a sustainable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables each week to CCAP/L&F so that local clients can receive approximately $10 in fresh produce to take home and implement into their healthy diet. WVU Medicine will provide copies of their monthly newsletters that include both tips for healthy eating and easy-to-follow recipes. This project will be getting local produce into the hands of West Virginians who need it most, and will also sustain local producers in the process.

Project Lead: Patrick O'Shea, oshea1014@gmail.com

 

BOONE

Living Agriculture Education Center (JUNE):

The Dig In Living Agriculture Education Center aims to continue building and expanding a space to teach future generations the skills and cultural traditions that are deeply ingrained into our past as people of the southern Coalfields. This project hopes to not only provide people with a small sample of the agricultural past, but also the knowledge and experience to bring that past back to life. Dig In Inc will provide working examples of the concepts taught. Partner organizations have begun building the location for this project along Rt 85 between the southern West Virginia towns of Madison and Van. The area, known as Robinson, is a small half- acre of property that has been purchased to house our project. The project team will also provide in-depth lessons on beekeeping, raised bed growing, container growing, composting, vermicomposting, plant starting, garden planning, and more.

Project Lead: Forest Dolin, digin304@gmail.com

 

Scott High School Community Garden (JUNE):

A team of volunteers and contributors from Scott High School, including science teachers and students, will construct a community garden to teach students about healthy eating habits, food sources, food chemistry, and more. Teens at Scott High School will now have a school-based complex and real-life experiences to learn how to grow fruits and vegetables, identify which foods are healthy, explore why dieting and exercise are important, and get experience growing food for themselves and others. During the growing season, students can research and learn about growing food inside a garden through their science classes while the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor will be donated to the Scott High School food pantry.

Project Lead: Dr. Jacob Messer, mjmesser@k12.wv.us

 

BROOKE

Bethany Education Afterschool Wellness Program (JUNE):

Bethany College will host approximately 15 Brooke County students after school at the Hurl Education Center on Bethany College’s campus from 3:30 to 5:30 pm on Wednesdays during the academic year. The goals of this program are to provide a safe and supportive after school environment where children ages 6-12 can receive tutoring in math and literacy, as well as extended education in healthy mental and physical lifestyle choices. Running from September 2022 through April 2023 and located in Bethany College’s Hurl Education Center, approximately 10 tutors will teach wellness lessons on physical activities, healthy foods and nutrition, as well as play individual and team games indoors and outdoors. Coordinators will also teach dance through a monthly Youth Dance Party.

Project Lead: Hayden Cook, cookh@bethanywv.edu

 

FAYETTE, GREENBRIER, NICHOLAS, RALEIGH

Heart Healthy Cooking Classes (JUNE):

The Heart Healthy Cooking Classes project takes a whole-health approach to the problem of heart disease in West Virginia. Bringing in subject-matter experts to teach a variety of health-minded classes, while also providing nutritious meals with how-to preparation instructions, this series aims to help participants make lasting healthy life choices. A series of seven classes will feature a guest speaker, a menu of food for that day, and a lesson on heart-healthy living. Baseline blood work (lipid panel, total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides) will be taken prior to the start of class through a partnership with WVU Medicine Summersville Regional Medical Center. Bloodwork will then be taken again at the conclusion of the Heart Healthy Cooking Classes series and compared. The goal is to educate and encourage participants to rethink how their diet impacts their heart health and inspire participants to make positive changes in their lives.

Project Lead: Bette O’Steen, bettesbeds@gmail.com

 

HAMPSHIRE

Slanesville Community Garden (JUNE):

The Slanesville Community Garden Team is planning multiple community events in the garden this year. They will participate in the Hampshire County Farm Crawl in July 2022. Later, the team will host nutrition educators during an open house. Yoga, art, and music events are also being scheduled, as well as dark sky and pollinator education nights. They will purchase a solar-powered pump for their existing rain barrel system, making it more convenient and self-sustaining. Raised beds that were first installed in 2016 will be replaced. They will create a native plant and pollinator garden, complementing their current wildflower meadow. School Garden days will continue to occur, focusing on STEM education and agricultural awareness.

Project Lead: Susan Parker, susan.j.parker@wv.gov

 

JEFFERSON

Local Food Access Program (JUNE):

The Local Food Access Program will provide fresh and local produce to 150 underserved families in Jefferson County. Community Markets Inc. (CMI) will partner with Bushel & Peck (B&P) and Saint James the Greater Catholic Church in order to deliver healthy and nutrient-dense food to families in need in Jefferson County. CMI will buy in-season produce through B&P’s supplier channels, prioritizing  produce that has been harvested in excess. This will provide a market for  produce that may otherwise have gone to waste. Mountaineer Food Bank (MFB) currently holds a Mobile Food Pantry food distribution once every two months at St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town, WV. To fill in the six months of the year where there is no food box giveaway, CMI and St. James the Greater Catholic Church will hold a food box giveaway in the church parking lot. This will operate on a first come, first serve basis. In order to highlight the fresh produce in each box, CMI will provide recipe cards and simple prep ideas for the produce to help educate consumers and promote healthier eating.

Project Lead: Mark Peiffer, mark.peiffer@communitymarketsinc.org

KANAWHA COUNTY

4H Garden Coordinator (JUNE):

Over the past year, the Camp Virgil Tate high tunnel has become a productive partner in several garden-based learning and food access projects. Utilizing various resources and partners, the 4H Garden Coordinator VISTA has shown success in serving the community so far with over 3,000 plants distributed and 64 different volunteers helping. Key projects of the 4H Garden Coordinator over the next year will include: support of school gardens through providing seeds/transplants and volunteer recruitment, transplant and produce distribution as outreach at the St. Albans Farmers Market, expansion of the “Help and Harvest” project, development of the exploration garden space adjacent to the high tunnel, hosting volunteer days to get the work done, and running the fundraisers and materials drives to support these efforts. This project will continue to grow thanks to support from Try This.

Project Lead: Jessica Pollitt Hudson, jessica.pollitt@mail.wvu.edu

Basketball Court Repair (FEBRUARY):

This Eagle Scout project from Elias Whitaker gets a group of intergenerational volunteers tackling repairs on 4-H Camp Virgil Tate’s basketball courts. These two courts are in disrepair and in desperate need of updating. First, the basketball hoops and poles will be repainted and repaired. The project team will also dig up weeds on the two courts then fill the cracks to make the courts safe and usable. Lastly,, the team will also use stencils to paint the lines on the fully sealed court, and also help paint a green 4-H logo centerpiece on one of them. All in an effort to have healthy campers.

Project Lead: Elias Whitaker, eliaswhiteaker@gmail.com

DuPont Middle School Garden (JUNE):

The staff and students at DuPont Middle School will be breaking ground on plans for a food forest, consisting of fruit trees, berry bushes, raised garden beds for veggies, and a vining area, all to benefit and enrich students. In the large 150' x 300’ open space outside the 6th/7th grade hallways, students will establish an edible garden and food “forest” that will include seating and materials needed to also provide a hands-on learning space. A variety of community members, staff, and students will help maintain the garden and plant so that there is consistent harvest throughout the year. Classes will use the project as a learning opportunity, ensuring this garden space will be a positive influence on the school and students.

Project Lead: Kelly Martin, kmartin@mail.kana.k12.wv.us

 

It Takes a Village (FEBRUARY):

This project will focus on the at-risk youth in the Marmet and London areas of Kanawha County, WV. These communities are hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, and a group of dedicated volunteers have stepped up to make a difference. Now they want to take their next steps by starting a health-focused program for young folks and their families. Youth will have opportunities to participate in outdoor recreation including baseball, softball, hiking, and fishing from experienced mentors to support both physical and mental health. Families will be referred to resources to increase access to basic needs such as food, clothing and hygiene items through a partnership with the Booker T. Washington Community Center. Each child will receive an Adventure Journal and their own hiking stick to customize to empower them to continue their health journey at the end of this project.

Project Lead: Cathy Schrader, executivedirector@regionalfrn.org

Recovery in Motion (JUNE):

Recovery in Motion is a 9-month program designed to holistically address the issue of poor physical and mental health experienced by those in substance use recovery and treatment centers. The current medically assisted treatment (MAT) programs, such as methadone or buprenorphine replacement, has recently been linked to diabetes, nicotine addiction, and premature death, and folks in treatment deserve other options and avenues to healthy recovery should they choose. This program will address the physical, mental and social needs of individuals in such treatment. This project aims to take physical and mental wellness services to recovery centers in the community to eliminate one barrier, which is access to service. Classes will meet once a month and each class will last approximately one hour, including both physical activity and nutritional wellness opportunities.

Project Lead: Ron Wilkerson, ronquietstorm@hotmail.com

 

LEWIS

Fun2Go (JUNE):

Through the Lewis County Blueprint Community, Weston Cultural Center, and Weston Historic Landmarks Commission, this project team will establish Fun2Go, a mobile activity and engagement center. With the help of volunteers, the mobile station will travel to indoor and outdoor locations around Lewis County to expand access to recreational and physical activities for residents of all ages. Minigrant funds would allow The Weston Cultural Center to acquire a variety of games and activities. Funds will also provide for the support materials needed to successfully host pop-up events on a monthly basis, as well as at other various events throughout the grant year and will provide a gateway to making physical activity and community a cornerstone in Lewis Counties culture. After the grant period, Fun2Go installments will work to be integrated into the everyday programming of the Weston Cultural Center, making it an established presence in the community.

Project Lead: Anna Cardelli, annakmitchell@gmail.com

LINCOLN & LOGAN COUNTIES

Lincoln-Logan Winter Healthy Food Initiative (FEBRUARY):

Through a partnership with WVU Extension, this project team will be hosting 25 local gardeners with two food-preservation and three winter-gardening workshops. Lincoln and Logan County participants will be taking home food they’ve preserved at the end of the class, as well as the experience necessary to continue their skills at home. Some topics to be covered include: how to regrow partially used produce, how to grow in mason jars, how to grow cold weather crops through the winter, to be able to successfully harvest them well into January and February, and how to make those well-earned foods last.

Project Lead: Marta Pate, mpate@stepbystepwv.org

The Big Ugly Youth & Teen Gardeners (FEBRUARY):

This intergenerational collaborative project will pair youth and teens with experienced gardeners in the community who have the skills, knowledge, and a love of gardening to pass on in Lincoln and Logan counties. The young folks will then take what they learn and plan, plant, grow, and harvest their own yield at the local community center. In turn, these efforts will provide fresh produce for families through the summer food backpack program that provides food at-need families each week. In the process, these young folks and experienced gardeners will be encouraging themselves and their community to try produce prepared in new and healthier ways, creating active participants in food preparation in the community.

Project Lead: Tami Boling, tboling@sttepbystepwv.org

 

 

MASON COUNTY

 

Mason Walk/Run/Cycle Route (FEBRUARY):

A team of community volunteers are planning to make it easier for citizens of Mason to access consistent, safe physical activity by installing three bike racks and weather-resistant signage to point locals in the right direction. This route will connect the local library, town park, and town hall by way of a designated trail. Through engaging programming aimed at getting people on the new trail, the project team plans to organize at least four community bike rides with Bend Area Sprocket Spinners, and a 5K walk/run event with their partner Pleasant Valley Hospital. This small town will soon be connected to the larger efforts across Mason County, including the Point Pleasant Fitness Trail project below, to increase access to walking, hiking, and biking opportunities and to create a healthy-minded community.

Project Lead: Lisa Crump, lisacrump1980@yahoo.com

 

Point Pleasant Fitness Trail (FEBRUARY):

Youth-designed and youth-led, PATCH-21 will help support students at Point Pleasant High School build a fitness trail for walking, hiking, and mountain biking on school property. The Take if From Us student group will spearhead the effort, getting parent, faculty, and community volunteers to create a space for healthy activity. The Strava fitness app, with data tracked by PATCH-21, will help students encourage use and will give them data to present and market their efforts to various community partners and organizations. This project, along with the above Mason Walk/Run/Cycle Route project, is one piece of a larger effort to get folks out on the trails in Mason County.

Project Lead: Katie McCutcheon, kjmccut2@stu.k12.wv.us OR dmccutcheon@patch21.org

MONONGALIA

2022 Morgantown United Aquatic Club (JUNE):

The Morgantown United Aquatic Club facilitators will provide a pool, program, and experienced coaching staff to teach youth ages 5-18 years old water safety, competitive stroke techniques, comradery, sportsmanship, and the importance of community volunteering. The team will engage the community by reaching out to parents and the local high school students with swimming experience to volunteer. Facilitators will coordinate with the swim league to create a meet schedule, conduct practices, and host parent meetings. At the end of the season the team will celebrate with a picnic and awards ceremony. The project will also result in the purchase of liability insurance, hiring certified coaches and lifeguards, and repairing multiple blocks before use. Students will be able to participate in swim lessons and competitions on a sliding scale and scholarship basis.

Project Lead: Denise Pettit, muacsharks@gmail.com

 

Free Bikes 4 Kidz Morgantown (JUNE):

Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K) is an established organization that collects, fixes, and donates bikes in 15 cities across the nation. FB4K is one of ten partners in Morgantown’s Youth Cycling Coalition pilot program. Plans for an ambitious community-wide trail system will provide high-quality trails within a mile of every Morgantown residence. The project team will collect and re-distribute bicycles partnering with other local YCC groups, including BMX bikes, mountain bikes, and commuter bikes, as well as Strider Bikes for very young cyclists. The team will distribute donated bikes to community partners (NICA, Little Bellas, Motown Social Rides, and others) who get them to families who need them. Since establishing FB4K Morgantown as a nonprofit in November 2021, they have collected over 80 bicycles, 45 donated and 11 helmets. A recent donation of a van was possible due to partnerships with Christian Help, St Ursula Outreach, Children's Society of WV, and Animal Friends. Volunteering with FB4K will let youth learn skills in bike repair/maintenance; if interested, participants can continue to develop vocational skills through Youth Cycling Coalition partner Project Bike Tech, which will soon offer a 2-year training program in bike repair and maintenance for juniors/seniors in Morgantown. With West Virginia’s growing emphasis on outdoor recreation as an economic driver, it is important to get children attached to outdoor activities like bicycling.

Project Lead: Jeremy Blizard, nerdragemotown@gmail.com

 

NICHOLAS

 

Promoting Walkability - Richwood's Historical Walking Tour (JUNE)

This revitalization project is an exciting step in getting folks active in Richwood. Richwood’s Historical Walking Tour will span Richwood, as well as a climb up Mike’s Knob Fire Tower, a structure that is currently attached to the Fire Department. The project team plans to produce rack cards with a map of the City of Richwood and 54 historic locations. There will be a QR code associated with the cards that link them to the narrative at each location that will be stored on a local website. Another important part of this project is the renovation of the Mike’s Knob Fire Tower. This includes renovations to the Mike’s Knob Fire Tower to provide easier access by summer of 2023, drawing both tourists and locals to explore as well as the rest of Richwood.

Project Lead: Mary Jane Williams, maryjanewilliams53@outlook.com

 

OHIO

Online Hydroponics Workshop for Teachers (JUNE):

In partnership with WVU Ohio County Extension Agent Karen Cox, PLANTS LLC owner Dr. Laurie Ruberg has developed a series of hands-on lessons called Growing Food with Hydroponics that teach key STEM concepts to students through hands-on activities. The team recruited Iowa State 4-H Extension Service expert, Maya Hayslett, to collaborate in designing the hydroponics activities to run in parallel with the Iowa State 4-H online program Crops Feed the World. This multi-state program was well-received in 2021 by both West Virginia and Iowa classrooms. The new syllabus includes the 6 initial lessons and 10 hands-on activities with updates from the pilot testing. The team will then create a series of demonstration videos to show how equipment made available in the hydroponics kits is set up, as well as time lapse videos of plant growth processes. Partial support through funding from the Northern Panhandle Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D) enabled PLANTS LLC to create hydroponics kits for teachers. Through Try This, the team can then provide up to 20 of these kits for free to teachers who register. This opportunity can then be provided to educators in the future to engage more West Virginia and Iowa students in the benefit of growing their own food and utilizing hydroponics systems.

Project Lead: Dr. Laurie Ruberg, LFRuberg@gmail.com

 

Pop-Up Line Dancing (JUNE):

Before COVID, the residents of the senior high rises in Wheeling were involved in Hip Hop line dancing activities. Opportunities for group exercises shut down during COVID, so the project team wants to implement line dancing events around the greater Wheeling area. The team will use a pop-up and train-the-trainer approach to engage more communities long-term. The team will develop a Line Dancing Training Kit that site partners can use to continue presenting line dancing activities on a regular basis. To promote healthy eating, sample menus and healthy snacks will be available at all line dancing activities. Each of the line dancing events will start with a series of yoga stretches, and will end with more yoga and a mindfulness activity to help individuals relax. To be more equitable for different abilities, movements will also be adapted so that individuals can follow the rhythm of the music from a chair or wheelchair. After the series of Pop-Up Line Dancing events have been presented in at least 8 locations around Wheeling, the project will host a capstone event at the Wheeling Heritage Port. This event will feature the Community Made Serenade band, which will play a mix of the line dancing musical styles—Salsa, Hip Hop, Country, and Swing—that have been presented throughout the series. (The Community Made Serenade band was established through funding from Try This WV in 2018 and it has continued as a community band with musical direction from Matt Hill, director of the Dream Big Music Ed program.) The ultimate goal is to help folks be aware of their health status and identify simple steps they can take to add movement and healthy food choices to their lives, and participants will be asked to identify their top health concerns and top five lifestyle goals.

Project Lead: Wanda Morgan, morganwanda029@gmail.com

 

PRESTON

Arthurdale Heritage Inc. StoryWalk® (JUNE):

Arthurdale Heritage, Inc. will create a mobile StoryWalk® on their grounds to promote literacy and physical activity for youth and families. The team will purchase metal signs and storybooks to create panels that can be read by families as they walk in sequence from sign to sign. The books will be changed monthly to encourage patrons to return regularly. Interactive prompts for comprehension and physical activity will also be included on each sign. The project team will also partner with other organizations in the county to bring the mobile StoryWalk® to other locations, both engaging other demographics and promoting Arthurdale Heritage Inc. and the other community opportunities they provide to the local community.

Project Lead: Rachel Harper, rachel@arthurdaleheritage.org

PUTNAM COUNTY

Beyond the Vale Empowerment Garden (PUTNAM & KANAWHA) (FEBRUARY):

To state it boldly, this project says: “We will teach the Charleston-based [Exploring ME Girls Group] how to turn one tomato into 100.” To accomplish this, the Beyond the Vale (BtV) community will level ground and construct a high tunnel to double their fruit and vegetable production with the goal of providing food growing and preservation education opportunities. At least two-dozen community members in person, as well as an online group with more than 500 members, will benefit from these efforts. Partnering with Dr. Shannequa Smith and the Exploring ME (My Emotions) Girls Group in Charleston, this empowerment garden will help expand awareness and access to healthy foods by providing produce biweekly for three months, as well as hands-on growing and harvesting opportunities to at least eight young Black women.

Project Lead: Johnna Bailey, Johnna.bailey@gmail.com

Kids Run The Nation (JUNE):

Through folks at Elevate and Child Law Services, the project team aims to create an environment in which low-socioeconomic status (SES) children will receive the same opportunities as their high-SES classmates and build skills designed to assist in dealing with the obstacles they face. The program will host a summertime kick-off celebration located in an area central to the low-SES housing for Putnam County which includes: a 5K race, wellness and nutrition booths such as yoga and pilates, sustainability through food sourcing, and gardening skills, with a special guest appearance from Batman, who will also teach the kids healthy living habits. The afterschool program for 3rd-5th graders will provide a healthy snack, running shoes, a team t-shirt, sunscreen, and any needed transportation from the after-school program. The program will combine holistic wellness with physical activity, focusing on teaching leadership skills and mindful fitness. A holistic couch to 5k program will be used that focuses on body autonomy, teamwork, leadership, community service, and mindfulness.

Project Lead: Cadance Young, Cadance.childlawservices@gmail.com

 

YETS: Youth Elevate The State (FEBRUARY):

Mountain View Elementary School’s student population is over 50% low socioeconomic status, meaning these youth are at higher risk of many health-related issues now and in the future. To help support these students, local mentors will train 25-40 3rd-5th grade students in holistic and community wellness through a specialized couch to 5K program integrated with mindfulness lessons and a focus on social-emotional skills. The students will learn the life cycles of plants, how to harvest produce, how to make healthy food choices, and more. The youth will even have the opportunity to design, build, and use their own garden at Mountain View Elementary School! Lessons in STEAM, gardening, and physical activity will also empower students in life skills, interpersonal skills, and the confidence to become a fierce leader.

Project Lead: Cadence Young, cadance.childlawservices@gmail.com

 

WAYNE COUNTY

Grow Kids Wayne County (FEBRUARY):

Twelvepole Trading Post, in partnership with ACCESS WV and Grow Wayne, a product of Berea College’s Grow Appalachia Program, is developing a community garden next to Wayne Park. The Town of Wayne Community Garden will be available to neighbors, visitors, youth, and families of the community. These raised beds will be donated and improved upon by various community members. It will also be a space for a GRo fellowship to collaboratively host gardening workshops aimed at youth and families to expand their knowledge of how to produce their own grown food. All food will be available for picking, sharing, and enjoying. Through surveys the project team also hopes to learn more about participants and the needs of their community to ensure this project is successful for years to come.

Project Lead: Leah Fitzgerald, lamason@hsc.wvu.edu