The Try This Team

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Brittney 

Barlett,

Try This Executive

Director

Brittney Barlett has directed Try This since September 2020, with mentoring by the former director. She lives in Weston with her husband and 3 dogs, where she is active with community organizations like Lewis First. A former high-school teacher, she is passionate about healthy-community activities and oversees the Jane Lew community garden.

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Deanna Palmer

Director of

The 

Lewis County

FRN

Try This fiscal

sponsor

Deanna signed up to coordinate the fiscal management of Try This funding, but she has been much more, a source of constant encouragement. A Weston resident and mother of two boys, she also directs the statewide alliance of FRNs and oversees 52 other programs for Lewis County that benefit low-income people.

Melissa Young

Try This

Administrative

Coordinator 

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Melissa started with Try This as an AmeriCorps volunteer in 2018. For 3 years she has been the invaluable Try This Administrative Coordinator, the queen of spreadsheets. Melissa also serves as AmeriCorps supervisor. She lives in Charleston with three kids and a bunch of cats and dogs. melissa.young@trythiswv.com

Laura Anderson

Try This WV Organizer

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Laura Anderson joined Try This WV in 2020 as an AmeriCorps and after completing the year of service, she accepted the position of Try This WV Organizer. This mother of 4 is looking forward to connecting folk and sharing the stories of projects all over the state. The experience she gained from mentors like Brittney and Mel has given her the confidence to become a community leader. 

Tracey Galloway

AmeriCorps

serving

Northern Panhandle

Tracey Galloway joined Try This WV in 2021 as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Galloway is a life-long community  servant and graduate of West Virginia Northern Community College, who’s passionate about the betterment of lives, creativity and learning. She is eager to fuse her background and passions in her new role to build a better future for West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle.

Kate Belt

AmeriCorps

serving

Central WV

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A recent graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, Kate is an Americorps member living in Buckhannon WV. Having been a member of the community her whole life, she is committed to working with others and being a positive voice to bring more opportunity and access to all West Virginians. Kate is excited to serve central West Virginia’s Try This region, and looks forward to making new connections in the community.

Cassie Wiley

AmeriCorps

serving

Southern WV

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Huntington resident, Cassandra Wiley, started with Try This in 2021 and serves Southern WV as an AmeriCorps Volunteer. Avid garden fan, even though she doesn’t have the greenest thumb, is determined to apply herself in bringing people together for a healthier, happier West Virginia.

A letter from the Try This WV Director

 

Dear Try This network,

 

I can't say enough how proud and humbled I am to be leading Try This West Virginia.  Try This has meant

so much to so many West Virginians, myself included. I've been graciously mentored into this new role, and

I'm thrilled to be steering this amazing ship onward,.with the support of generous funders, partners and staff.

 

 And I mainly can't wait till I can start meeting many of you in person!

 

I can report that, despite the pandemic, the Try This network has grown this year. 

  • Thirty-one local teams won minigrants and have already started work.  See the descriptions here

  • Try This has started down the path of setting up four regional networks.  (The northern panhandle regional group has already won a four-county gardening grant!)

  • Four AmeriCorps workers have done wonderful work with minigrants and partners. All are inventorying physical activity opportunities in their counties.

  • Fourteen schools - 347 teachers - won grants to train their entire staffs in mindful stress reduction, thanks to a Try This/Mindful WV collaboration. (Mindful WV has grown into a statewide network. It began with a Try This minigrant in 2017!)

  • Collaborations are under way with several partners.

  • 10 funders, state and national, have put Try This on good footing to go forward.

  • The new Try This Web site (under construction) will officially launch as www.trythiswv.org in June.

  • Try This media is expanding. The Try This Connections sessions have drawn more than 6,000 views, averaging more than 500 apiece so far. We can't have a conference yet, but we can certainly get online and enjoy each other! Former director Kate Long has gone back to being a journalist, this time for Try This, as media director.

  • Will we have a conference this year? We don't know yet. If we can't get together in person, we'll think of Plan B!

 

Yes, it's been challenging to take on the executive director role of a statewide organization in the middle of a global pandemic and all its uncertainty.  But that's counter-balanced by the team of compassionate, energetic, smart West Virginians Try This has brought together. That includes those I've met online or haven't met yet - so I haven't regretted my choice to take this job for a moment.  

 

I  can't wait for the day when I can travel the state and actually meet you face to face! 

Meanwhile, stay safe,

Brittney Barlett

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Spring 2021 note from Brittney Barlett

A few weeks ago, a couple friends and I dug up daffodils in Doddridge County to be used in community projects, thanks to the generosity of Beth Crowder.

 

On April 18th I delivered some daffodils to JoLynn Powers, Director of Adaland Mansion in

Barbour County, and got to see the Alderson Broaddus Rugby Team help Adaland help plant

their very own apple orchard!  This project was sparked by a Try This minigrant, so it was

especially exciting to be able to see it unfold.

Try This funded an orchard, some planting and pruning classes and some take-home

seedlings. The Adaland crew also plan to convert a nearby building on the property into cold

storage and processing for an apple butter and apple cider operation in collaboration with

other local apple orchards. They want to make it a teaching experience for the community,

which is something they already do with their historical tours and learning exhibits

in the historical mansion and barn.

As part of the Try This minigrant, JoLynn distributed apple trees to the public, partnering with WVU Extension to create an educational video on how to do it yourself. The trees came with a quick run-down by JoLynn, an instructional packet, and a lot of smiles. But it’s not ending there! The folks at Adaland will also be distributing West Virginia apples in the fall with a canning demonstration, teaching folks how to make their very own apple sauce from planting the tree to eating the delicious results!

The thing I heard JoLynn say more than once as she hurried about directing folks, sharing knowledge with every

step, was: "This is what it's all about."

She's right. And this often happens with Try This minigrants. A seed is planted, then it just keeps growing.

A community coming together to learn, to create something bigger than themselves, can change lives. People

can get healthier and happier. And that's what's happening all across West Virginia right now.

I’m a personal example of this. When I moved to Weston just over six years ago at 24, I had never been involved

in a sense of “community”. I’d never volunteered or engaged in organizing efforts. But within my first year, after

securing a job as a teacher and finding myself struggling to find friends and meaning in our new home, my

husband convinced me to go to a Lewis County First meeting, a local volunteer group focused on making our

community better.

Despite dragging my feet about it, I went. And two days later, I was out in the Jane Lew Park drilling together the first of 24 community garden beds for a project I still help manage until this day. And it wasn’t until years later that I discovered that I had helped build a Try This project.

Since then I’ve been involved in two statewide teacher strikes, become an experienced community organizer, managed large community events and projects, volunteered multiple times a week in some capacity, and made connections in every county in West Virginia. Folks come to me now as a leader, and I know that I’m just one story out of 336 minigrant projects since 2014 that have fostered collaboration, created change, and lifted up new leaders who will do great things with the seed Try This has planted.

I can't wait to visit more projects and hear what other projects people are interested in seeing in their area, and I can’t wait to meet the future leaders who will make them happen.

 

You can contact me at director@trythiswv.com.

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