The Appalachian Coal County Team and Western Hardrock Watershed Team
Robert Jackson with Morris Creek Watershed Association in WV and volunteers participate in fish shock survey on August 7, 2012.
In 2002, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), AmeriCorps VISTA and local community non-profits initiated the award-winning OSMRE/VISTA Teams. The OSMRE/VISTA Teams have been recognized by federal, state, and local entities for their innovative partnerships originally designed to bring environmental and economic improvement to the Appalachian Coalfields and then later to the mining districts in the West.
The OSMRE/VISTA Teams are two of very few non-profits bringing greater connection and collaboration between federal agencies and small rural communities. Founded in response to demands from watershed/community improvement groups in rural communities throughout the East and West, the work of the OSMRE/VISTA Teams supports a growing movement that is quietly bringing new vitality and new hope to these regions.
OSMRE/VISTA Debby Ludwig with Little Beaver Creek Land Foundation in Ohio shows a water sample to students during an environmental education day.
The OSMRE/VISTA Teams recruit, train, support, and coordinate a dynamic group of OSMRE/VISTA Volunteers, Summer Interns and their supervisors who promote social and environmental improvement at the grassroots level.
Community organizations and their OSMRE/VISTAs are equipped with the tools, training, and volunteer-organizing skills necessary to help local citizens become effective environmental stewards, community leaders and accelerators of change in places indelibly marked by the environmental legacy of historic mining.
Together, the OSMRE/VISTA Teams and their local partners are fostering a new spirit in the Eastern coalfields and Western hardrock districts based on conservation and development, strong partnerships, engaged citizens and new hope.
2012 Partners in Conservation Award Winners
(L-R) Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Marcilynn Burke, Kelly Kim with OSMRE/Volunteers in Service to America, Deputy Secretary Hayes, OSMRE/VISTA’s Coordinator Dr. T Allan Comp, OSMRE Director Joe Pizarchik.
The OSMRE/VISTA Teams have earned the 2012 Partners in Conservation Award from the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. The Secretary's award recognizes "exemplary conservation results through public-private cooperation and community engagement." The OSMRE/VISTA Teams were one of seventeen award recipients.
In 2012, the OSMRE/VISTA Teams placed 144 youth in environmental stewardship and engagement opportunities around the United States -- and that number comprises 86 year-long full-time OSMRE/VISTA Volunteers and 58 Summer AmeriCorps Members at 64 sponsor sites.