Six college and high school students from West Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay watershed gathered in Shepherdstown WV September 9–11 for an intensive training on outreach and communications, and to collaborate with two Eastern Panhandle watershed groups on ways to attract younger people as volunteers. The six students, West Virginia Rivers Coalition’s 2016 OneWatershed fellows, were selected through a competitive process based on criteria like volunteer experience and career interest in the environment or communications and media.
The fellows and leaders from Sleepy Creek and Warm Springs watershed associations learned about branding nonprofit ventures and using social media for outreach. Using concepts from the training, the fellows and watershed leaders rolled up their sleeves and got to work creating event and outreach plans for upcoming events like tree plantings and stream cleanups.
“It was fascinating to see a diverse group of young adults get together and come up with unique ideas to help the environment,” said Dia Brown of Huntingtown, Md. “I am glad I am part of such a rare opportunity as OneWatershed.”
"OneWatershed weekend has been such a learning experience,” added Evan Byrne, a student at Bethany College in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle. “Being able to work with nonprofits to help them was extremely rewarding — adding real world experience to what I learn as a college student."
The students also spent time evaluating each group’s website, newsletters, and social media for “youth appeal,” and took turns facilitating discussions on making connections with people ages 16 to 25. Each watershed group will get a detailed branding and outreach plan for their event, along with recommendations for making their websites, social media, and overall marketing more appealing to young audiences.
“I enjoyed working with the OneWatershed youth representatives,” said Chuck Marsh, president of Sleepy Creek Watershed Association.” I appreciated their insightfulness, enthusiasm, wanting to learn more, and willingness to get involved to help us out reaching the youth in our watershed.”
“The OneWatershed Training weekend was an excellent opportunity for students and watershed groups to learn about community outreach, and how to help get all kinds of people involved and active in the environmental protection community,” said Evan Janis of Baltimore, Md.
WV Rivers’ 2016 OneWatershed Fellows are:
Dia Brown, Huntingtown, MD
Evan Byrne, Bethany, WV
Zapporah Ellis, Kearneysville, WV
Evan Janis, Baltimore, MD
Maddie Ferrell, Charleston, WV
Corey Lilly, Morgantown, WV