Making a difference:Friends of Deckers Creek by Chelsea Fuller

The scenery in West Virginia is without a doubt, some of the most beautiful in the country. The state is filled with mountains, forests, streams and creeks , all of which create the environment West Virginian’s love and enjoy.

A non-profit organization called the Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) is dedicated to cleaning up the areas surrounding Deckers Creek (which runs through Preston and Monongalia Counties), while educating local communities about water remediation, acid mine drainage and other issues affecting the environment around Deckers Creek.

Before beginning this project, I knew nothing about the organization or Deckers Creek. Many students drive and walk past sections of the creek, oblivious to what it is and its significance to the area.

My group decided to do our project of the FODC because they had recently organized a litter clean-up that caught our attention.

One of our best interviews was with Brian Carlson, a staff member and Americorp Vista worker with FODC.

Carlson’s interview was held behind a Kroger on April 13 in Sabraton, W.Va,. Initially, I believed this to be an odd place to conduct an interview. However, that was until we arrived and saw the wonderful space that FODC and their Youth Advisory Board had created.

There is a rail trail, a beautiful mural and other hand-crafted pieces of art, an outdoor learning center and of course – the creek. This beautiful setting, along with Carlson’s detailed explanations of how FODC aids the creek and the surrounding areas made for one of the best interviews ever.

During Carlson’s interview, he gave our group a tremendous amount of information. He told us about FODC’s efforts to improve the water quality of the Deckers Creek watershed, creek side development and their educational programs as well.

“I wanted to get involved with Friends of Deckers Creek because of their mission to promote the enjoyment of the creek and educate the community,” Carlson said. ” Who wouldn’t love being exposed to this beautiful environment.”

After Carlson’s interview, my partner and I drove into Preston County to get additional photos of the creek. Pulling off on the side of the road, and hiking down the side of a mountain was not something I had done before, but it was well worth it.

The images I captured of Deckers Creek helped pull the project together for me. In order to understand the passion and sense of urgency felt by those involved with FODC, I needed to see the beauty and serenity of the creek first hand.

After compiling our interviews and other materials, we created a multimedia piece about FODC. To accompany the peice, I wrote a story that focuses on the FODC  Youth Advisory Board (YAB).

The YAB  is a sub-committee of the FODC. With more than 50 active members ranging in age from 6 to 18, their mission is to “increase youth participation in helping clean up the deckers creek for conservation, preservation and recreation through youth-led projects and research.”

It was enlightening to meet young people who were passionate and knowlegeable about the environment.

Evan Lintz, is the chair of the YAB and he believes they are the future of FODC…and I would have to agree.

The work being done by the FODC and their YAB is outstanding. I am glad I had the opportunity to learn about the organization, while receiving insight into some of the major issues affecting our environment here in West Virginia.

They made me want to aid in bettering our environment, and that was something I did not anticipate.This project taught me that stepping outside your comfort zone can sometimes… be a very good thing.

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