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2015 Breakout session list: Try This conference



Saturday conference (44 of 74)

Try This sessions bring like-minded West Virginians together to inspire each other, trade Ideas and hear new ideas. During these sessions, people start to combine forces, hatch plans and roll the ball forward. (Photo: Kate Long)


Try This …. and this … and this … and this …

A smorgasbord of affordable, do-able ways to create healthier communities wait for you in Buckhannon, June 5 – 6!  More than 100 of West Virginia’s most savvy presenters have volunteered their time to help create a healthier West Virginia.

What a team!

Full schedule here.

Register here.


Friday, June 5 / 1:00 – 2:15 pm


Bicycling for fun, health and economic development. (Blue 104) How does a community make it easier for people to ride their bikes to the store or work – or just for fun? These West Virginians are making it happen. Your community can too! Dennis Strawn, WV Connecting Communities; Breanna Shell, Huntington city planner / bike commuter; Kelly Webb, Bike-Friendly Matewan; Tim Atkins, Huntington Burrito Riders (burritos delivery on bikes to homeless people); Christiaan Abildso, WVU School of Public Health.

Farm to Whatever: Grow more fresh, local food + grow more $$. (Red 300) West Virginians spend $1.8 billion overall on food each year. WV agriculture takes in only $550 million, but the share is growing. Hear about new ways to market locally grown food to the public, schools and other institutions. These people will flat-out inspire you and give you money-making ideas. Liz Spellman, Food and Farm Coalition; Lauren Kemp, The Wild Ramp, Huntington; Bekki Leigh, Office of Child Nutrition, Farm to School coordinator. Ken Peralta, Grow Ohio Valley; Michelle Foster, KISRA founder.

A regular community conversation: the oil that keeps it all going. (Red 100) Last year, the Morgantown mayor came to this session, then went home and started a weekly conversation. You can do it too!  Hear from people who accomplish a lot through regular, anybody-welcome conversations over food or drink, convened to answer this question: How can we make our town healthier and more prosperous?   C.J Rylands, Create Buckhannon; Jenny Selin, Try This Morgantown; Kate Greene, Fairmont 12:30 group; Bob Johnson, Richwood mayor; Ray Smith Lewis County conversation; Carey Jo Grace facilitator.

Get funded, Part 1. (White PAC) Increase your chance of grant success: inventory, partner, and evaluate. Many communities spend a lot of time writing grants, but fail because they don’t understand what funders want. Two funding veterans give you ABC’s of what funders expect. Their tips and advice will give you an extra edge. Kim Tieman, project officer, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Jamie Jeffrey, director, KEYS for Healthy Kids

Use physical activity to keep kids focused and involved. (Red 104) Whether you’re working with kids in school, or in sessions of your community program, brief bursts of physical activities are an indispensable tool to keep kids interested, energized, non-fidgety and involved. This stellar group of trainers will show you a variety of exercises and leave you with lots of ideas! Vicky Lacey, physical education teacher and trainer ; Emily Murphy, West Virginia University Extension Service Obesity specialist; Brandon Williams, WV coordinator, Action for Healthy Kids;Sharon Maynard, WV coordinator, Fuel Up to Play 60

Volunteers: Getting them and keeping them. (Purple lounge) This subject comes up quickly in any conversation about what’s needed for a successful project. How can we keep good volunteers coming back? If you don’t know how, your program’s in trouble. These presenters know how to keep gangs of volunteers happy year after year. Nadine Perry, Putnam County SIStah volunteer coordinator. Sharon Marks, River City Runners and Walkers; Wendy Casto, Jackson County Moovin and Groovin

Workplace wellness: creative, low-cost ideas. (Red 108) What can a small business do if they can’t afford their own wellness program? How can they collaborate with community programs? How can you involve businesses in your community programs? Adam Flack, director, West Virginia Wellness Council; Dave Harshbarger, director WVU Wellness Program; Jim Christie, Larson Design Group

Serve healthy food on a shoestring budget. (Red, Kresge) If you don’t make much money, can you still eat a healthy diet? Yes, you bet you can, these people say! But it takes planning and know-how. Each presenter offers solid advice from a different angle. You’ll leave with fresh approaches and a wide range of ideas. Amy Gannon, WVU Extension Service dietician; Mandy Curry, Healthy Kids Inc.; Belinda Nicholas, West Virginia University Nutrition Outreach Instructor; Andy Pense, Office of Child Nutrition coordinator

Build a high tunnel greenhouse: grow fresh food year-round. (Red 200) High tunnel greenhouses (hoop frame and heavy plastic sheeting) are popping up at schools and community centers all over the state. Some feed farmers markets or food pantries. A high tunnel can cost as little as $2,000. Find out how to plan your own. Terry Hudson, director of Hudson Farms, has built more than 100 school or community high tunnels; Chuck Talbott, Putnam WVU Extension agent works with elementary school high tunnel gardens. Maria Arnot will show how Williamson uses high tunnels to feed their farmers market.

RX: Prescribing Prevention! How can we encourage it? (Yellow, auditorium) This is a brainstorm session. At the Williamson Wellness Clinic, doctors hand out prescriptions for physical activity. At the WVU East Medical School, medical students learn to cook healthy food. How can we get doctors referring to community projects? How can we start a movement in West Virginia? Jessica Wright, facilitator: Dino Beckett, OD, director Williamson Health and Wellness Center; Mark Cucuzzella, MD, WVU Medical School East; Aila Acaad, Executive Director, Future of Nursing WV; Rahul Gupta, MD, StateHealth Officer and Commissioner, Bureau for Public Health. Bill Neal, MD, CARDIAC project founder, WVU.


Friday, June 5 / 2:45 – 4:00 pm


Get kids excited about growing food!  Part 1 (Red, Kresge) West Virginia has a wonderful new School and Youth Garden Support Network, thanks to WVU Extension and KEYS 4HealthyKids! School gardening programs are popping u all over the state! Teachers are weaving gardening into the curriculum. This one-stop workshop is packed with ways to plan and fund your own program.  Jessica Pollitt, WV School and Youth Garden Support Network coordinator; Bev Stern, Ruthlawn Elementary teacher; Chuck Talbott, Putnam County Extension agent; Karen Cox, Ohio County Extension agent; Kate Marshall, Grow Ohio Valley

Healthy faith! Churches helping people live healthy lives. (Red 108) Churches are a powerful community influence, yet “church food” often means “heart attack food.”  How can churches promote healthier practices? Get people moving? Talk with people who are doing it! Join the growing statewide healthy faith network!  Steve Willis, pastor, First Baptist Church, Kenova; Cliff Adkins, assistant pastor, “The Place,” Beckley’s Methodist Temple; Belinda Nicholas, WVU Extension nutrition outreach worker; Matt Young, founder of Genesis.Couch to 5K; Leslie Bonham, coordinator Daniel Plan groups, Cross Lanes Methodist; Linda McKinney, Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank; Shannon Holland, Arthritis Foundation WV.

Community gardening: Much more than raised beds. (Purple lounge) Community gardening can be fruit tree forests, mushroom farms, childrens’ gardening, gardens in straw bales …. How many creative ways you can expand your community’s supply of fresh food? This session packs them in! Jenny Totten, West Virginia State University Extension agent; Maria Arnot, Williamson high tunnel gardens. Brad Cochran, WVSU Extension agent; Cadance Young, West Virginia’s Promise; Bob McKinney, Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank, McDowell County.

Media Part 1: Using media effectively to tell your story, Part 1 . (Red 104) Want to use media to attract people to your project … but not sure how to get started? If so, this session is for you! These presenters will show you how to use facebook effectively and introduce you to social media programs like Twitter and Instagram. You’ll find out how to set up a free or low-cost Web site. If you can, bring a laptop. Debbie Workman, social media consultant; Emma Gardner, West Virginia Farmers Market Association

Just do it! Make it happen! (Blue 104) An agency or organization doesn’t have to start it! Two years ago, young Charlestonians put up a facebook page called “Volleyball and other on Magic Island.” It became a go-to way to organize action spontaneously or ahead of time. Fayette teacher Joe DeGaetano helped start a teen adventure club. Huntington bike riders deliver burritos to homeless people on bikes. This session will stir up fun ideas about ways to “just do it” in your community! Adam Flack, Volleyball and Other on Magic Island; Tim Atkins, Burrito Riders of Huntington; Alexis Batausa, Tuesday Night Track; Aaron Sliger, Braxton Soccer League; Joe Degaetano, Fayetteville HS Adventure Club founder;  Liz Brunello facilitator.

Healthy lifestyles = economic development tool! (Yellow, auditorium) WV now spends seven out of ten health dollars to treat diseases that can be prevented with physical activity and healthier eating. If we lower that number = more $$ for everything else! Learn how to argue effectively that our healthy projects are also economic development. Stephen Smith, director West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families coalition; Cheryl Brown, WVU, agriculture economics; Ted Boettner, WV Center on Budget and Policy; Bekki Leigh, Office of Child Nutrition; Monica Miller, Local Capacity, WV Development Office, Michelle Foster, founder, KISRA

Let’s build trails! (Red 100)  How can you plan, create, and fund trails? How can you connect existing trails so hikers and pedestrians, runners and bicyclers can get around your community safely and easily? How can we use trails to build healthier children?  These guys can answer all those questions. Peggy Pings, Outdoor Recreation Planner, National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program; Ryan Burns, Grant Administration Unit Leader and State Trail Coordinator, Dept of Transportation; Wendy Casto, Jackson County, Moovin and Groovin; Mark Cucuzzella, MD, Shepherdstown “Trail Time” founder.

Huntington: Making big healthy changes! (Red 300) Seven years after Hurricane Jamie Oliver hit Huntington, the city is becoming one of the state’s most active cities, and fresh food is booming. “We are replacing hopelessness with hope,” says keynoter Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. How can you do that? How do you make people believe change is possible? These people know how, and they’ll inspire you. Breanna Shell, Huntington city planner; Lauren Kemp, The Wild Ramp; Veronica Hordubay, Huntington’s Kitchen; Steve Williams, mayor; April Knight, Try This Huntington, Debbie Campbell, Huntington High School.

Help people with diabetes and heart disease live healthier lives!  (Red 200) Stanford University’s life-changing Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) program is offered now in many WV senior centers, libraries and churches. How can people in your community get trained to lead such programs? How you can start your own free or low-cost community programs? Home visiting? Or a diabetes coalition? Sally Hurst, WV Osteopathic School, Chronic Disease Self-Management Trainer; Carrie Brainard, Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department; Linda St. Clair, Office of Child Nutrition.

Create healthy child care in your community. (White, PAC) If children develop healthy habits in their first five years, they’re much more likely to stay healthy all their lives, solid research tells us. How can you help your community’s child care centers give children a healthy start? Practical, affordable ideas and an upcoming opportunity! Jamie Jeffrey, MD and Laura Dice, KEYS 4HealthyKids; Kristy Blower, Office of Child Nutrition; Tracy Valach and Terry White, Linwood Child Care Center (Pocahontas County).


Saturday, June 6:  10:00 – 11:15 am


Great running/walking programs for all ages! (Blue 104) Williamson’s Diabetes Coalition organizes weekly and daily runs to help local people build a running/walking habit. Parkersburg’s running/walking club offers adult and child events all year. Eastern panhandle runners use their race proceeds to build school fitness trails. Lots of ideas that can literally energize your community! Matt Young, Genesis, Couch to 5K; Sharon Marks and Kevin McCleary, River City Runners and Walkers; Alexis Batausa, Mingo County; Mark Cucuzzella, Shepherdstown “Trail Time” and children’s events.

Media Part 2: Use the Web and Social Media to build your project. (Red 104) This idea session with three pros will stir up creative ideas about ways to use social media and the professional media to publicize and build your project. It is for you if you already know how to get a facebook page and Web site up and already know how to get started with tweeting, etc. What then? Sarah Halstead, WVSU Extension Service, specialist in sustainable community development and economic development; Jenny Hudson, Mingo County Diabetes Coalition; Jake Lynch, Communications director, WV Community Development Hub.

Walkable/bikable communities: how can we make it happen? (Red 108) Get lots of ideas about ways to make it easier, safer and more inviting for people to walk, run and bike in your community. At the same time, learn how you can change your local “policy” (that wonky word) and make a big difference in your community.  Stephen Smith, Executive Director, WV Healthy Kids and Families; Angela Vance, AARP; Kate Greene, Fairmont MainStreet; Dennis Strawn, West Virginia Connecting Communities.

Spread healthy cooking statewide: a brainstorm/planning session. (Red, Kresge) Schools stopped teaching students to cook, Processed food is making us sick. But interest is growing in fresh, local foods. A WV Public Broadcasting project is in the planning stages. How can we spread healthy, tasty, affordable cooking statewide? Emily Murphy, Elaine Bowen, Amy Gannon, WVU Extension Service; Rick Goff, director WV Office of Child Nutrition; Belinda Nicholas, Extension Service Nutrition Outreach Instructor; Mandy Curry, Healthy Kids Inc. / private sector; Adam Taylor, interim director WV Farmers Market Association; Debbie Workman, Country Roads Cookoff; Leslie Bonham, Healthy Faith Network

Parks and natural playgrounds that don’t bust your budget. (Purple Lounge) You’ll leave this session with creative, affordable ways to lower the cost of creating natural playgrounds and parks, through collaboration, volunteers, creative funding. Hear ways you can make it more of a community project. Laura Dice, coordinator, KEYS 4Healthy Kids, natural playgrounds/ pocket parks; Doug Hylton, Ronceverte city planner; Katherine Wyrosdick, Fairmont City Planner

Grow Ohio Valley: Exciting stuff going on in Wheeling. (Red 100)  This grassroots Wheeling organization has won national attention for the way they are expanding Wheeling’s access to healthy food.  From a mountainside vineyard to garden growing classes for children to their high tunnel greenhouses that supply their CSA with food and flowers to their new mobile farmers market, they’re getting it on!  They’ll inspire you and give you lots of ideas! Ken Peralta and Kate Marshall, Grow Ohio Valley.

Master gardeners can do great things for your community. (Red 200) Every master gardener commits to do community services. They teach classes, organize tree plantings, help organize school gardens or high tunnel construction. A great way to get a community gardening program going: get people trained as master gardeners. Find out how to do it and what they can do. Mira Danilovich, director WVU Master Gardener program. Nadine Perry, Putnam County SISta Master Gardener coordinator; Karen Cox, Ohio County Extension agent, Willa Izzo, volunteer coordinator, Greenbrier Master Gardeners.

Dynamite youth leadership : Youth led, adult sponsored.  This session will be presented by West Virginia youth and their sponsors who have created outstanding programs and campaigns. Some started with a strong healthy lifestyles component. Others added it. Come let them inspire you to do the same with your existing youth program or create a new one. Students and sponsors from: Students Against Destructive Decision (SADD, Wyoming County); Believe All Things Possible (BAPS, Logan County), 4-H Club, Huntington High School Wellness Academy.

Get funded! Part 2. A funding smorgasbord (Yellow auditorium) There are lots of funding sources for healthy lifestyles activities, but how do you find the right ones? These presenters offer practical advice about ways to find funders who specialize in your activity. This is one of two sessions on funding. Come to both or one. Kim Tieman, West Virginia representative, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Jessica Wright, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health; Jamie Jeffrey, director KEYS for Healthy Kids.

Feed healthy meals to hungry kids … free! (Red 300) If you could feed a thousand or more needy kids, every single weekday – free – for a year, would you? West Virginia’s Feed to Achieve Act gives school systems and afterschool programs new ways to feed kids, with federal reimbursementAnd WVU’s new FoodlinkWV Web site gives us all valuable new tools to make it happen! Rick Goff, director, WV Office of Child Nutrition; Rick Wilson, American Friends Service Committee director in West Virginia; Bradley Wilson, WVU Geography Department, creator of WV Foodlink. 


Saturday, June 6:  11:45am – 1:00 pm


Williamson, Mingo County: Culture of Health. (Blue 104) Something’s going on in the Mingo county seat! Hundreds of Williamson residents now run regularly, restaurants have added healthy choices, and Williamson was named a national “Culture of Health” community by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It isn’t happening by accident. Come to this session for a bird’s-eye view on first-rate community teamwork. Dino Beckett, Williamson Health and Wellness Center; Jenny Hudson, director Mingo County Diabetes Coalition; Vicky Lynn Hatfield, founder, Mingo County Diabetes Coaltion; Maria Arnot, farmers market director; Sabrina Runyon, principal, Lenore K-8; Alexis Bautausa, run/walk coordinator.

Make your minigrant project a big success! (White, PAC) What tips and advice can successful minigrant teams give us? How did they parlay their grant into more donations and grants? How do they involve the community and keep volunteers coming back? How did their experience affect them and their community? Liz Brunello, coordinator; Linda McKinney (McDowell County), Julia Spelsberg (Lewis County), April Knight, (Try This Huntington), Terry White (Pocahontas).

Community organizing. (Red 100) No matter how good your plans are, you need to find ways to spread them through the community if they are to last. How do you inspire people to work together over time in a group? What can you do to make it more likely that they’ll hang in for the long haul? These two excellent organizers will help you make your roadmap. Stephen Smith, director WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition; Kent Spellman, director WV Community Development Hub

Make your farmers market a community hub. (Red 200) Offer events, classes, crafts, children’s programs! Community forums! Local choirs and other musical groups! Partner with community events, 5Ks, food pantry drives, etc.! Start a gleaning program! Lots of ideas! Adam Taylor interim director West Virginia Farmers Market Association; Maria Arnot,  Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, mobile market events; Ken Peralta, Grow Ohio Valley; Lauren Kemp, Wild Ramp

How to (and how not to) get public officials on board with your project. (Red 104) Tips on what you can do (and not do) to increase your chances of success with your local and state officials. What can you do (or not do) to win their cooperation?  Patti Hamilton, West Virginia Association of Counties director; Katherine Wyrosdick, Fairmont city planner; Matt Wender, Fayette County commissioner. Nancy Guthrie, Kanawha County delegate; Bob Johnson, Richwood mayor.

Open up your waterfront! (Red 300) Make it easy for people to paddle or swim in your river or lake, and you also increase your economic development appeal! Explore steps you can take to make it easier for people to get out on the water. Peggy Pings, Outdoor Recreation Planner, National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program; Doug Hylton, development consultant and Ronceverte planner; Ryan Burns, Grant Administration Unit / State Trail Coordinator, Dept of Transportation; Pamela Ruediger, Friends of the Cheat

Get kids excited about growing food, Part 2. (Location: The Buckhannon community garden! Rain location: Purple lounge) Hands on workshop! A chance to actually try innovative gardening activities in one the most beautiful community gardens you could imagine. Buckhannon’s community garden is located almost directly behind the Performance Hall. See the map in the conference program or ask a volunteer for directions. Jessica Pollitt, WV School and Youth Garden Support Network coordinator; Bev Stern, Ruthlawn Elementary first-grade teacher; Karen Cox, Ohio County Extension agent; Buck Edwards, Buckhannon Community Garden; Rachel Milner, VISTA, KEYS 4HealthyKids.

Healthy Celebrations: If not hot dogs and pop, what? (Red, Kresge) Want to serve something more healthy than hot dogs, potato chips and soda pop? Like to set a good example with healthy, tasty food? What? This session will give you ideas for lots of great, affordable ideas for special occasions and ordinary days – and you’ll get to sample some!  Laura Dice, coordinator, KEYS 4HealthyKids; Linda St. Clair, Office of Child Nutrition; Mandy Curry, Healthy Kids Inc.

Create low-cost exercise programs that work. (Yellow auditorium) You don’t have to spend a bundle. In 2014, eight WV communities offered the Walk 100 Miles in 100 Days program. More than 30 counties competed in the Summer Steps walking program. Try Frisbee, hula-hoop or jump rope tournaments and the Arthritis Association’s Walk with Ease program! Sutton offered zumba, yoga and exercise classes in the community building. What will you do?  John Yauch, Bureau for Public Health; Adam Flack, Wellness Council of West Virginia; Elaine Bowen, WVU Extension; Shannon Holland, Arthritis Foundation  WV.

Get kids moving after school. (Red 108) Girls on the Run, Adventure programs, church-run afterschool, state afterschool network, let’s get those kids moving! How can your community stir up more afterschool activity? A smorgasbord of ideas, ranging from do-it-yourself adventure clubs and parent-run soccer clubs to public school afterschool activities and 4-H. Susan Gamble, director, West Virginia Statewide Afterschool Network; Aaron Sligar, Braxton County Soccer Club; Lauren Weatherford, Facilitator, Fayette County 4-H Run Club; Joe Degatano: founder, Fayette Adventures



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