On Thursday, five students from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford presented at the 21st annual Appalachian Teaching Project Symposium, a regional economic development conference sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The students presented “Quintuple Mountain Recreational Trail Project to Enhance Trail Access and Amenities for the Community of Bradford, Pa.”
The students have been working with community partners to evaluate trail conditions, organize trail construction and maintenance activities, and identify cultural and historic sites on a more than 200-acre parcel of forested hillside land between Pitt-Bradford and downtown Bradford.
Students from a mix of biology, engineering and geographic information system classes surveyed the ecology of the forest and used GIS software to create maps of trail conditions, ecological information, and points of historic or cultural interest.
Students built upon GIS maps and trail route work completed by Pitt-Bradford Appalachian Teaching Project students during the fall of 2020.
Students presenting at this year’s online symposium were Bryce Aniszewski, a senior double major in engineering science and energy science and technology from Pittsburgh; Sammi Curcio, a sophomore biology major from Mount Jewett; Christian Gasdaska, a mechanical engineering major from Maysville; Haylee Ludington, a junior double major in environmental studies and environmental science from Galeton; and Chelsea Zarzuela, a junior environmental science major from Philadelphia.
Each Allegheny Teaching Project reflects one of four themes that connect back to the ARC strategic plan: addressing community needs and challenges, economic development, tourism, and capacity building. As a capstone to this work, students normally travel to Washington, D.C. to present their work to other student delegations from participating institutions, ARC leadership, and community leaders in a formal peer-to-peer conference setting hosted by ARC. This year, due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the ATP Symposium was held online.
Pitt-Bradford was one of 15 colleges and universities taking part in this year’s symposium.
Since 2001, over 2,650 college and graduate students from across Appalachia have participated in the Appalachian Teaching Project. This is the 12th year a student delegation from Pitt-Bradford has participated in ATP.
Previous projects by Pitt-Bradford students have studied community development efforts, particularly about trail usage and construction, and studies by Bachelor of Science in nursing students about immunization rates and food insecurity in the local community.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (www.arc.gov) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.