BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University's Center for Appalachian Studies is preparing for the 46th Annual Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference, which will be held for the first time at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio from March 16-19. This year's theme is “AppalachiaFest: From Surviving to Thriving in Appalachia.”
About this event, Center for Appalachian Studies Director Trevor McKenzie remarked, “Our faculty, scholars and graduate students are ready to attend the 46th Annual ASA Conference. We will have a strong presence in this important event, and I’m thankful for all the work and enthusiasm of everyone that is involved.”
Dr. Julie Shepherd-Powell, assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Master of Arts in Appalachian Studies program, added, “This conference is very vibrant, and for us it is the best place for recruiting prospective students for our program. As in the past editions, we will be a part of the exhibition hall displaying the attributes of our program. Attendees will have access to all kinds of information about what we have to offer in our master’s degree program.”
Tom Hansell, professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and co-director of University Documentary Film Services, will lead a group of students to the conference later this month.
In the Fall, students in Hansell's "Sustainability and the Arts in Appalachia" course collaborated with students in the "Applied Nursing Research Methods" course taught by Dr. Tammy Haley, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Nursing. The students worked with the New River Conservancy and the Watauga Riverkeeper, Andy Hill, to increase awareness of the health impacts of microplastics in headwater streams. The interdisciplinary project engaged students and community members in outdoor and indoor activities that were open to the public.
Left: Dr. Julie Shepherd-Powell, assistant professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Master of Arts in Appalachian Studies program, and Trevor McKenzie, director of the Center for Appalachian Studies, collaborate to organize programming for Appalachian studies students and the wider community. Right: Dr. Tammy Haley, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Nursing, and Tom Hansell, professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and co-director of University Documentary Film Services, will co-facilitate a panel of App State students at the ASA Conference.
The hard work on this project will culminate with a panel at the ASA Conference, titled “Water, Art and Public Health in the Upper New River Valley," on Saturday, March 18.
The panel will be co-faciliated by Hansell and Haley and feature five students involved in the microplastics project:
Jesse Barber, Appalachian studies graduate student from Sawmills
Megan Hall, Appalachian studies graduate student from Candler
Kate Hoffman, senior nursing major from Mooresville
Yndiana Montes, Appalachian studies graduate student from Caracas, Venezuela
Sammy Osmond, Appalachian studies graduate student from Boone
Additionally, a poster about microplastics created by Camden Phillips, Appalachian studies graduate student from Elk Creek, Virginia, will be displayed during the conference.
Montes shared that she's excited to bring her character, the "Glitter Lady," to AppalachiaFest. The Glitter Lady, clad in a blonde wig and plastic glitter, is a villainous alter ego designed to raise awareness about microplastic pollution. Prior to moving to Boone, Montes lived in Wilmington and experienced the damage caused by Hurricane Florence in 2018. The flooding during the event sparked Montes' interest in water quality issues, leading her to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainable Development at App State and later become involved with the microplastics project as a student in the Appalachian studies program. Montes' role as the Glitter Lady, which readers can learn more about here, is just one example of outreach by students involved in the microplastics collaboration.
“I hope that the documentation of microplastic pollution will help to build awareness of this emerging issue in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge, and that our graduate students will continue exploring sustainability through the lenses of cultural policy, ecological theory and community development. The participatory, symbiotic projects, which we were involved in, allowed us to collaborate with Appalachian community organizations. I hope students will follow this trend in the near future and continue creating projects which will support the fight for a better environment for us all," explained Hansell, "I am very proud of all of them.”
Appalachian studies graduate students Camden Phillips, Kevin Freeman, Sammy Osmond, Megan Hall and Yndiana Montes met with MountainTrue's High Country Watershed Coordinator, Hannah Woodburn, as part of their microplastics project.
Hall and Krystal Brooke Carter, a fellow Appalachian studies graduate student from Elkin, will also present in other conference sessions. Hall, who has researched floods, storms and their impacts on the affected populations for years, will discuss her findings on a recent devastating storm in western North Carolina. Her paper is titled "The Social and Community Effects of Tropical Storm Fred on Haywood County, North Carolina."
Carter is convening two sessions: a roundtable titled “Intersectional Women’s and Gender Studies Interest Group" and a discussion and performance titled “A Melody Will Bear All Misery: A Celebration of the Sustaining Resonance of Appalachian Folk Art and Music.” Building on the first roundtable at the 2022 conference, the interest group session will bring together academic, activist and community perspectives in a conversation about intersectional women's and gender issues.
“A Melody Will Bear All Misery: A Celebration of the Sustaining Resonance of Appalachian Folk Art and Music” will take place in a question-and-answer format and feature audience-centered discussions ranging from the grassroots activism of Alice Gerrard and Hazel Dickens to the Appalachian roots of Sun Ra. The session will also feature poetry readings and performances of traditional and original music.
To learn more about the 46th ASA Conference, visit appalachianstudies.org/2023-conference.
About the Center for Appalachian Studies
The Center for Appalachian Studies promotes public programs, community collaboration, civic engagement and scholarship on the Appalachian region. The Center is committed to building healthy communities and deepening knowledge of Appalachia’s past, present and future through community-based research and engagement. Learn more at https://appcenter.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in four program areas: Appalachian studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; global studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at https://interdisciplinary.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Nursing
The Department of Nursing in Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences provides an evidence-based nursing education in an intellectually stimulating and challenging environment that is designed to prepare the beginning nursing professional with the knowledge and skills to practice in diverse settings in a highly complex health care system. The department offers two accredited Bachelor of Science programs: the nursing pre-licensure program and the online RN to BSN program, designed for current registered nurses seeking the bachelor’s degree. The department also offers a Master of Science in nursing program that prepares registered nurses for leadership roles as educators. Learn more at https://nursing.appstate.edu.
Written by Tom Hansell
Edited by Lauren Andersen
March 6, 2023