As an AmeriCorps Vista for Piney Creek Watershed Association. I have the opportunity to assist in making big changes within my own community. I grew up in Beckley, WV. This community is my home. My roots in Raleigh County go way back to my great grandparents. My great grandpa was a coal miner and was blessed with many children. As the years have gone by, my family has spread apart in many places of the United States. Many of us still call Raleigh County our home. Often, I sit with my grandma and relatives on my grandma’s back porch listening to the birds chirp, and bees fly by. I listen to everyone reminisce about the good old days in this community. They tell stories when it was safe to hike in the woods, keep their front doors unlocked, and visit the creekside. The times when playing with sticks, jumping rocks, swimming in any water hole and playing in the mud was what all the children did. They grew up on West Virginia Mountains. Their hands from young to old dug in the clay, climbed the trees and made a living for their family. As the stories went on a couple of West Virginia inhabitants stopped by from time to time raccoons, bunnies, deer, and chipmunks. I guess they wanted to listen too.
When people ask what West Virginia offers the answer is simple. West Virginia offers the history of our ancestors, rainfall that waters our plants, water that runs down our valleys, trees that give us cover and color. West Virginia scenic beauty is just something I am blessed to see. One of the many beautiful creeks running in-between our mountains is Piney creek. Piney Creek runs through many of our backyards. Piney Creek has a group of dedicated volunteers and multi-professionals that make up the Piney Creek Watershed Association ( PCWA). They all strive to make environmental impacts right here in our community. As a summer associate I am dedicated to take part in PCWA’s values. PCWA was established almost fifteen years ago. PCWA strives to educate awareness on hazardous waste disposal, storm water awareness and protecting the watershed that runs throughout our community. PCWA partners with West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech), working with students, faculty and volunteers to monitor the waters of Piney Creek and its tributaries. that help make the water monitoring program a success. The Beckley Sanitary Board contributes knowledge and skills to help make our water monitoring successful. Our partnership makes a continuous water monitoring program a reality. In the near future I hope to be a part of sharing our data to a web base that the public can access. It’s important that our neighbors, friends and family understand that we all can unite as volunteers and professionals to ensure our community has quality water in our creeks. Our impact will affect the mountains for years to come. Our community also needs to work together to help clean up the mountains we call home. So another thing PCWA spear heads is a monthly trash cleanup. One step closer to the right direction for our streams and our home.
I started working with Piney Creek as a volunteer last year. I am a Biology student at WVU Tech. I was informed of a new water monitoring program underway and was determined to help in any way I could. Through the past year I have had the opportunity to be a part of development of the water monitoring program, as well as assist in cleaning up the streets and rain gardens. As a summer associate, I am currently working on starting Monarch butterfly watch stations within Raleigh County. A Monarch butterfly watch station is a butterfly garden that provides a place for these migratory butterflies to reproduce and make a summer home here in our community. Piney Creek does a number of things that I couldn’t even begin to give the proper appreciation for. I am honored to have the opportunity to work as a national and community service member right here in my hometown. I hope that when I complete my Vista experience, I leave behind a start to a long journey of community improvement.
I am just an ordinary person living in the boots of those before me. These boots will be filled by many after me. While I am in these boots, I am blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a hard working group. I will do my best to help continue their efforts. I would like to send out a sincere thank you to all of you that come out and volunteer with PCWA. One new volunteer can be such a tremendous help to PCWA to continue making big changes in this community. If you would like to volunteer join us on Facebook.