Union Students participate in Appalachian Economic Development Symposium in Washington D.C.

Published on
December 14, 2018
From left: Jasmine Felder, Madison Meyer, and Cecilia Roberts present their research findings at the ATP Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) hosted 11 students from Union College at the 18th annual Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) Conference in Washington, D.C. from November 30 to December 1. 

ATP is an applied-research training program for college and graduate students to design community based economic development initiatives across the Appalachian Region as part of a school-based curriculum. In partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, schools participating in ATP offer a directed seminar guiding students in developing and executing field-based research projects specific to the needs of their surrounding communities and in alignment with ARC’s current Strategic Plan. As a capstone to this work, students and their faculty sponsor, Mr. Glenn Baker, Post-Secondary Navigator, and an adjunct instructor at Union College, traveled to Washington to present their work to other students from ATP participating institutions, ARC Leadership, and community leaders in a formal peer-to-peer symposium.

 “The Appalachian Teaching Project is a cornerstone of ARC’s commitment to next-generation leadership development,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas. “The practical experience in research, planning and economic development students get through this program will serve them and their communities for decades to come.”

The 2018 ATP Conference was held in easy access to the US Capitol at the Crystal City Marriot in Arlington, Virginia, and featured 150 students representing 15 colleges from 11 Appalachian states. The team from Union College included Robert Hobbs, Morgan Smith, Cherokee Bowling, Joshua Gray, Joshua Hampton, Jada Ross, Drew Carson II, Santerrius Barlow, Jasmine Felder, Cecilia Roberts, and Madison Meyer. Students Matthew Proffitt, Kayla Smith, Cameron Miracle, and Trentkela Clements also completed the class requirements but were unable to attend the conference.

 The group presented their research on ‘The Effect of the Arts (music, dance, drama, visual arts, folk arts, and photography) on Economic Growth in Knox County, Kentucky.’ For their project, the students began by researching their topic and choosing a hypothesis. With assistance from the Kentucky Arts Council, they developed a cultural asset inventory and administered it to local citizens. More than 20 interviews of local artisans were conducted and recorded. The research team was led by Baker, who was named an Appalachian Teaching Fellow for the 2018-19 academic year.

“This has been an experience that these students will never forget,” said Baker. “Presenting their research in front of over 200 people as well as visiting some of the best Washington, D.C. museums is priceless. I am so thankful that we were given the opportunity, and a very special thanks to Kentucky Commissioner for Local Government, Sandy Dunahoo, who directs the ARC grants in Kentucky and sent the information to Union College.”

Since 2001, over 2250 students from across Appalachia have participated in the Appalachian Teaching Project. Supported by ARC and the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, the 2018 program was led by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services at East Tennessee State University.