Appalachian Studies students share "Roots with Wings" story

Radford University students enrolled in the university's APST495/595: Research in Appalachia course recently presented at the Appalachian Teaching Project Conference in Arlington in December.

The Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) gives college students the opportunity to engage in research projects that address endemic challenges facing Appalachian communities. Led by the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, a coalition of 16 Appalachian studies organizations, the program includes coursework and active research on issues related to building a sustainable future for Appalachian communities.

Faculty and students at each participating institution design and carry out research projects tailored to the needs of targeted communities, many of which are in economically distressed counties.

RU students presented on their involvement with "Roots with Wings," an oral history project in which RU students teach Floyd County High School students to conduct interviews, using modern video and audio equipment, and produce films and sound focused on the stories of the region's World War II veterans.

RU mentors, who come from numerous majors and disciplines, also contributed to a 110-page project manual containing step-by-step instructions for carrying out the project to high quality standards, as well as to a mentor's manual to prepare future mentors for their roles.

Some of the students involved with Roots with Wings have an "intimate understanding of the dynamic potential of the project because they trained Floyd County High School students and witnessed the oral history interviews," said Theresa Burriss, director of RU's Appalachian Studies program. "Their investment in creating a practical workbook for hands-on exercises for the high school students was based on their real-life experiences with those students, as well as the high school students' feedback."


Among the RU representatives attending the ATP conference were (from left): RU Archivist/Appalachian Collections Librarian Chris Miller, Austin Addair, Kasey Campbell, Victoria Curtis, Taylor LaPrade, Theresa Burriss, Caroline Leggett and ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl.

At the conference, RU students presented before 15 other schools from the region, ranging from Georgia to New York. They also spoke to "high ranking officials in the Appalachian Regional Commission, who sponsor the community-based research of the schools," said Burriss, who taught the Research in Appalachia course this past fall.

Victoria Curtis, a senior from Mechanicsville, said the ATP conference is one of her favorites because she enjoys learning about projects being conducted at other regional colleges and universities and the significance of those projects to their respective communities.

"We do not realize just how important and huge our projects are until we get to the conference and hear about the projects all of the other schools have been working on," said Curtis, a social science major who chairs RU's Appalachian Events Committee. "Hearing about all the work my fellow students are doing makes me hopeful for the future of the Appalachian region and for the future of the country. These students see the problems we face today and are working to fix them in creative and new ways. One day we will be the ones in charge, and I know that together we will make this world a better place."

Roots with Wings: Floyd County Place-based Education Oral History Project

Radford University student mentors are collaborating with students at Floyd County High School and directors of the Floyd Story Center at the Old Church Gallery to collect oral history stories from World War II veterans of Floyd County.

Feb 4, 2015