Project Leader: Elisa Mayes Project Dates: February 13 - December 16, 2011 Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org 
The transition from April to May was almost imperceptible, as many of my projects rolled over into this past month. Within the first two weeks of May I finished researching crime and river access issues along the Mon. I also finished compiling the Business Directories and Town Profiles for both Greensboro and Rices Landing. The team met to discuss some ideas for our follow-up GTECH meeting at the end of the month, which was helpful in thinking about community engagement and project timelines for the rest of the year.
I’ve also been busy working with e-media related projects. Ashley and I learned how to use Constant Contact, an online newsletter and email distribution program, and I have been looking into different formats for us to use when we launch our River Towns monthly newsletter. I set up a River Towns Facebook profile, which will be launched in the near future. We’ve also been discussing ideas for a River Towns smart-phone app, which would highlight access points along the river, fun things to do in the region, and specific things to do and see in each of our towns.
In the field, I spent several days working out of the Greensboro borough building, as part of a weekly commitment I made to spending time meeting and working with residents of the town. I also volunteered at Greensboro’s first Farmers’ Market in the beginning of the month. After a successful start, I’m looking forward to continuing to offer my support for the event on a weekly basis. We also scheduled a meeting with some of the council members in Rices Landing, which will allow us to introduce the River Towns program to them and enable me to begin working on projects with members of the town. I was also lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend the National Scenic and Historic Trails Conference in Abingdon, Virginia. It proved to be a valuable opportunity, not only to network with other young adults working on similar projects as ours, but also to discover the extensive network of trail groups that covers much of the US. I attended several workshops at the conference regarding Human Health as it relates to preserving and utilizing trail systems, and participated in a working dinner, where participants discussed issues that trail systems across the nation are facing and ways to overcome them.
May has been another busy month for those of us in Connellsville. The River Town Corps has put a lot of time and effort into planning the Albert Gallatin Regatta Parade in Point Marion which was held on Saturday May 28. I also was a part of planning and developing a display for the Fayette County Children's Water Festival that was held at the Fayette County Fairgrounds on Tuesday May 24. I have also met with members of California, PA's borough council and planned a town assessment which is going to be held June 6 in town. Also a lot of my month was taken up by the National Scenic and Historic Trails Conference in Abingdon, VA. This conference taught me a lot about the trail systems across America and how they are being maintained and governed. I met a lot of other members of the SCA and I met contacts which could prove useful for my future.
Jeff's May Update 
Throughout May, work continued at a good pace. Many existing projects were finished, while others were picked up and we are moving ahead on. I finished reading through many old plans about the Monongahela River, finding what recommendations are relevant to our work, and discarding others. I synthesized all of these recommendations into one document for our program. I had meetings in both California and Fredericktown-Millsboro, to set up town assessments in those communities. Those town assessments will take place in early June. I also worked to arrange bicycle trips for the corps, in order to get an on-the-ground perspective of some of the recreational opportunities. Finally, I began work on a grant to commission a work of public art in Fredericktown-Millsboro.
May also had lots of out of office work. First and foremost, I attended the Partnership for the National Trails Conference in Abingdon, VA. For five days, I met and worked with representatives of all of the National Scenic and Historic Trails, as well as a number of related organizations. I made many professional contacts and brought back lots of ideas for work here in Pennsylvania. Upon our return, we had a display at the Fayette County Children's Water festival. Approximately 300 students came by to learn about water pollution. Later that week I was in Pittsburgh for a meeting with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. We discussed working on an existing smart phone app that will have tourist information for the Upper Monongahela River Valley. Last but certainly not least, we ended the month with the Albert Gallatin Regatta, an annual event in Point Marion, PA, on Memorial Day weekend. We had been planning the parade throughout the month, and spent the day organizing and running the parade on the ground. It was a great event to end a productive month.
The River Towns Outreach Corps hit the ground running for the month of April! I attended the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) Summit Conference in the beginning of the month; in particular, I attended sessions on trail planning, environmental and economic sustainability through local agriculture, and connecting people with trails. I also spent a day in Maryland touring the towns of Cumberland and Frostburg, specifically to visit local businesses and assess trail accessibility. Near the end of the month, RTOC met with GTECH Strategies to discuss community development as it was relevant to the work we’re doing in the river towns.
I’ve also been busy working in the towns, as well. I attended the Hammer In at Young’s Foundry in Rices Landing, which was an interesting opportunity to see a historic piece of the town and meet some of the community members. In addition to meeting with members of the Point Marion Rotary Club and introducing the River Towns Program, I’ve also been helping to plan Point Marion’s Annual Albert Gallatin Regatta Parade over Memorial Day weekend. I helped to plan and market Connellsville’s Earth Day event, which marked the 3rd Annual SCA Clean-Up in the town. I also traveled to Greensboro to attend a Farmers’ Market planning meeting for the borough’s first ever Farmers’ Market.
When not at trainings, or working on site in the towns, I’ve been busy compiling Town Reports and Business Directories for both Greensboro and Rices Landing (the two communities that I am acting as the point-person for). I’ve also been researching Crime and River Access Issues along the Upper Monongahela River, specifically focusing on the towns that we are working in.
Between developing relationships with our communities, planning and attending events, and traveling for trainings, we have been going non-stop – as you can see, it’s been a productive month, and I look forward to many more like it!
April 2011 began with the Brownfields Conference in Philadelphia, PA. For three days I attended roundtable sessions, presentations, and workshops on community redevelopment. Projects from across the nation that focused on reuse of abandoned buildings and properties were showcased. Following the end of the conference, I returned to the office in Connellsville, where we moved into a new, larger office down the street.
I completed research on Fredericktown-Millsboro, PA and compiled a town report. A business directory accompanied the report. I also researched water quality issues related to the Monongahela River and its tributaries. I read several past studies and summarized them, as well as reading into current water testing efforts occurring in the region. I met with the Izaak Walton League, a national organization focusing on environmental issues. Their Greene County chapter is a leading force in the region on water quality issues. April was also Earth Day in Connellsville. I created an educational display about John Muir, and displayed it with the other educational programs. Later in the day, I assisted with planting native species along a former railroad tailing dump.
Several new projects were also started, including planning a memorial day parade for Point Marion, PA. Also, I have begun to review many old plans for the Monongahela River valley, and prioritizing the suggestions from them. This way, we hope to avoid doing any new planning, and begin to implement these ideas.
This month consisted of a lot of research and getting to know the communities first hand, even if it meant visiting the local diners & seeing how the 'local businesses are working' of course. One of the events was just in time for Earth Day, a highway cleanup along the West Virginia Pennsylvania border with 11 other community members. One of the perks the programs is getting out there and seeing the communities involvement and interactions. We were able to attend the Hammer In at Rice's Landing and see a great historical place, the Young Foundry, and see this great piece of history captured in time. We are constantly making new contacts throughout the region which brings different ideas to the table. All of which bring a new aspect to the program.
April was a busy month for the SCA River Town Outreach Corps. For me it started in Philadelphia at the National Brownfields Conference. There I learned about Brownfield sites and how to develop those sites, particularly on rivers for community use as a green space. When I returned I focused on conducting research to learn as much as I could about California and the Mon Valley. The research included a business directory and town report for California and also real estate values for the Mon Valley. This was a good learning experience to teach me new things about the area. We were also assigned to organize the 32nd Annual Albert Gallatin Regatta Parade in Point Marion, PA on May 28. This was something I am new at and am embracing the parade planning as a great challenge.
Elisa grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and graduated from UNC - Chapel Hill with a BS in Environmental Science. She first worked with SCA doing an internship with the Keene Valley Nature Conservancy and then as a member of the Adirondack Conservation Corps. She received her master's in Urban Planning from the University of Groningen, Netherlands. She began work with the SCA Sustainability Corps in December 2008. Her passions include local agriculture, traveling, dancing, cooking, skiing, and bicycling.
About the Site 
The River Towns Program is a two year partnership between Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and is funded through AmeriCorps and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The River Towns Outreach Corps (RTOC) consists of SCA volunteers who will be working in the communities of Point Marion (Fayette County), Greensboro and Rices Landing (Greene County), and Fredericktown-Millsboro and California (Washington County) along the Monongahela River. Corps members will be working to engage local citizens, business leaders, civic clubs, non-profit organizations, elected officials, and public office entities in ongoing and upcoming local and regional efforts.
The River Towns Program seeks to better connect the towns to the river as an outdoor recreational asset, while encouraging business growth through increased visitor revenue. It is similar to the Trail Towns approach but also concentrates on the river as an asset. Trails need to be built and often take many years to do so, but the Upper Monongahela is a readily available resource that is both navigable and beautiful. Although historically these towns have recognized the river as an industrial highway and essential to the industries of glass, coal and steel, it can and should be used by recreational users. The common heritage of these towns and the wealth of industrial heritage artifacts allows us to position the towns as unique attractions for visitors.
RTOC Mission: To foster economic revitalization and community development along the Monongahela River Towns through minds-on and hands-on community service.
--To be an integrated resource and asset to the River Town communities
--To coordinate and increase reliance on local and regional economies
--To promote appreciate of rich cultural heritage of Southwest Pennsylvania
Jeff Malik 
Jeff Malik is originally from Cleveland, TN. He attended the University of Tennessee and graduated in 2010 with a degree in Geography. He has previously worked for the National Park Service at Fossil Butte National Monument, WY. Jeff's professional interests include parks and protected areas, planning, and creating more efficient and livable cities.
Brad Bishop 
Brad Bishop is originally from Perkasie, PA (Bucks County). He went to California University of Pennsylvania and has a B.A. in Communications and a M.Sc. in Sports Management. His main interests are radio, Philadelphia sports teams, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Laura Cole 
Laura Cole grew up in rural north-western New Jersey. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Muhlenberg College, and her previous work experience includes a background in corporate human resources. She is happiest when outdoors, and spends most of her free time running and hiking. She is also an avid reader, and enjoys baking for her fellow corps members!
Ashley Gramlich 
Ashley Gramlich grew up in NW Arkansas & attended the University of Arkansas obtaining a Bachelors degree in Recreation. She has spent a majority of the last decade working in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northeastern Minnesota guiding & assisting in administration for the Boyscouts. She has a passion for live music, preferably folk/bluegrass, and long paddling adventures on lakes.