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VISTA Position Supports Damascus

The Department of Interior is providing a VISTA (Department of the Interior Volunteer in Service to America) position to support Appalachian Trail Communities in SW Virginia! The position is based in Damascus, VA. See position description below.

Appalachian Trail Community VISTA
All interested Candidates must send cover letter and resume including references to jjudkins@appalachiantrail.org by 12/22/2013.

 Project Goal: The Appalachian Trail Community VISTA in Damascus, VA will develop programs to bring Appalachian Trail Communities together by fostering a regional identity around outdoor recreation based tourism, and promoting sustainable economic development. The VISTA will focus in Damascus, and serve the communities of Damascus, Pearisburg, Bland, and Marion, leading stewardship opportunities for diverse groups of residents, assisting with tourism based community revitalization, and implementing conservation communication projects. The ATC seeks to utilize the momentum of the Appalachian Spring in Southwest VA, in order to develop a regional branding that makes Damascus and its surrounding communities an international outdoor recreation destination.

Focused VISTA Goals:

  • Build capacity through community outreach and education
  • Develop conservation stewardship along the Trail through volunteer recruitment
  • Support sustainable economic development through growing the Appalachian Spring initiative

Job requirements

Bachelors degree, good communication skills, familiarity with computers, ability to work in a challenging and changing environment, flexibility and adaptability, self-motivation and a willingness to live in a rural Appalachian community.

GIS, environmental monitoring, community organizing, economic development and experience with the A.T. are desired.

Duration: VISTA is a year of service
Start Date: February 1, 2014
Hours: Full Time (no external employment is permitted)

This position is not a staff position and does not include a salary; rather, it provides a living allowance less than $1,000 a month.  It includes health insurance, child care assistance, and an education award valued at or $5,550 or a cash stipend of $1,500 at the end of service.  Candidates relocating more than 50 miles for service are eligible for $550 relocation/settling in allowance.

Community Need

Damascus, VA is a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The Appalachian Trail runs directly through the heart of Damascus, where hikers often stop for supplies, overnight accommodations, a visit to the town library, or a bite to eat at one of the town restaurants. Damascus also serves several other recreational trails, including the Virginia Creeper Trail, Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail, and many more; making it an ideal candidate for economic development as an outdoor recreation destination and trail town.  ATC serves 33 A.T. Communities, many of which have been classified as “distressed” by the Appalachian Regional Commission, in Washington County, VA 13.6% of people live below the poverty threshold.

 Appalachian Trail Conservancy CONSERVATION DEPARTMENTAL MISSION: Permanent protection and sensitive stewardship of the Appalachian Trail footpath and associated resources through effective implementation of a cooperative management system involving ATC, Trail maintaining clubs, and public-agency partners.More information on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: www.appalachiantrail.org

More info on DOI/VISTA

 DOI/VISTA – Department of the Interior Volunteer in Service to America. The VISTA program was started by President Johnson as the domestic equivalent of the Peace Corps.  VISTA seeks to alleviate poverty and build the capacity of those trying to do so.

ACCT – The Appalachian Coal Country Team (ACCT) assists rural communities in Appalachia by building capacity for local organizations and governments that are working towards healthy futures, economic development, and environmental stewardship in our seven state service area.  The ACCT is maintained by a unique partnership between the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and AmeriCorps VISTA that enables the team to place determined, college-trained, men and women in rural Appalachian communities for a year of national service.  Since 2002, the ACCT has consistently placed OSM/VISTA’s in the most rural and impoverished communities in Appalachia, serving rural people in need by working directly with community members and organizations.  With its support office in Beckley, WV, the ACCT works throughout seven Appalachian states (Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) and is sponsored by the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia. For more information about the ACCT, visit http://www.coalcountryteam.org

Training – The ACCT holds two trainings per year to advance the professional development of its VISTA members and their supervisors.  These trainings help VISTA’s to utilize the ACCT network by meeting fellow VISTAs in person.  The spring training is for VISTAs only and the fall training brings Supervisors and VISTA Members together. DOI/VISTA sites will be expected to participate in training and all expenses are covered.

VISTA volunteers are placed in communities to build capacity, empower citizens and community volunteers, and create a network of support that otherwise would not exist among isolated, rural communities. We use national service as a local solution and bring measurable results to the communities we serve. VISTAs have been developing ad hoc committees and local collaborative groups with participation from concerned citizens, local businesses and political decision-makers, and agencies regionally and statewide to identify economic and environmental problems and their sources. Through these grassroots engagements, communities implement successful projects and develop citizen-driven solutions by working with leaders in the community who will support these projects in the long-term future. Striving for sustainability, the Teams build capacity by recruiting and training community volunteers who are invested locally and able to continue addressing recovery and revitalization in their own communities. To guide the Volunteers in their service, the Teams have developed 5 core goals:

  • Build Local Capacity
  • Engage Economic Redevelopment
  • Promote Environmental Stewardship
  • Enhance Outreach and Education
  • Promote Professional Development