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2017 Try This Conference Breakout Sessions

This one for br eakouts (1 of 1)

Some of the most popular presenters are under 18.


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

A wonderful smorgasbord of affordable, do-able ideas are waiting for you in Buckhannon, June 15-16, 2018 !  More than 130 of your fellow West Virginians are volunteering their time to pack your head with healthy-community ideas! West Virginians trading ideas! Community by community, we’re creating a healthier state!


The 2018 list of breakout sessions will be up on this page in late March.

Meanwhile, you can get a feel for the kind of sessions you can expect by looking at the 2017 list below.  The 2018 list will be a mix of favorites and new sessions.


2b testing. gaga pit

At the conference, we practice what we preach! Lots of fun between and after sessions!



Full schedule here. Two days of inspiration and fun.

Register here.

Wondering how to apply for a minigrant?  Look here.

Come Thursday to relax and take in extra events: farm dinner, community conversation workshop, bike ride, exhibits … see the schedule for more details.






Friday, June 2, First breakout session: 1:00 – 2:15


Community organizing and policy improvement: No matter how good your plans are, the community has to get involved for change to last. How can you inspire people to work together? How can you help them plan and strategize for the long haul? How can you organize around an issue? Two excellent organizers help you make a roadmap. Stephen Smith, Executive Director, WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition;Kent Spellman, RetiredExecutive Director, WV Community Development Hub

** Healthier child care:  Promoting good habits early! Children are much more likely to stay healthy all their lives if they develop healthy habits in their first five years, research shows.  An exciting wave of healthy child care centers is growing in West Virginia! Kids are gardening, cooking, staying active! Come hear practical, affordable ideas!  Jamie Jeffrey and Laura Dice, Jessica Dianellos, KEYS 2 a Healthy Start coordinator; Terry White, Linwood Child Care Center; Micha Webb, Mt. Zion Childcare Center, Charleston

$$ a person can make (or save) growing food.  Would you like to raise food for money? Want to supplement your family income? How can you raise $30,000+ a year in produce on a few acres? Can a person start make a living in farming right out of high school?  Bob Gregory, Berea Gardens;  Lauren Kemp, The Wild Ramp; Ben Gilmer, Refresh Appalachia; Jason Hughes and Zach Call, West Virginia Department of Education; Park Ferguson, Wayne County Farmers Cooperative

Weave more physical activity into our youth programs!: Use bursts of physical activity to keep kids energized, non-fidgety and involved. Lower the risk of chronic disease, increase chances of academic success, and decrease discipline problems. An idea-and-fun-packed session! Come ready to move!  Brandon Williams, Action for Healthy Kids; Josh Grant, WV Dept of Education; Marissa Fox, Glenville Elementary;  Richard Williams, PE teacher, Village of Barboursville

closeup organizing sessionCommunity conversations: Make things happen in your town: A growing number of West Virginia towns hold a weekly anybody-welcome conversation, open to all. They meet to answer this question: How can we make our town healthier and more prosperous? Find out how you can start one! Barbara Miller, Marmet Bucket Brigade: CJ Rylands, Create Buckhannon; Ray Smith, Weston; Bob Johnson, Richwood; Tom Hart, All Aboard Grafton

** Runners /Walkers Resource Network:  jumpstart your running/walking program.  WV running/walking programs have joined forces to mentor other WV communities that want to start a program too. Come find out about it.  Alexis Batausa and Tim Caudill, Mingo County Diabetes Coalition; Matt Young, Genesis Running; Ryan McCarthy: cross country for middle-schoolers:  Melanie Seiler, Active Southern WV;  Mark Cucuzzella, Eastern Panhandle Running HQ;, Shepherdstown; Dan Lehmann, WV Trail Runners.

Dads and Moms getting active with the kids!  Research says kids are more likely to be active if Mom and/or Dad are. Create a program that makes it easier for families to be be active with their kids. Eric Murphy, WVU Extension, iFather program; Beth Anderson, Braxton County Soccer Club; Levi Moore, Active Southern WV; Saba Ashfaq, Hike It Baby and Mothers of PreSchoolers (MOPS)

** Create a wellness team at your church: a how-to session.  A wellnesss team makes it easier for your congregation to care for their God-given bodies. How can you create one? How can iit become part of your church’s mission? How can you set a good example? Meet with people who are doing it!  Josh Sowards, WV Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits, Eilene Mayer, First Emmanual Church, Parkersburg; Cosby Davis, 365 Church, Martinsburg; Frances Shearin, Church Women United; Mason Ballard, Resurrection Church, Charleston

** Little Money, No Time: Cooking Healthy on a Shoestring. Can you eat a healthy diet on a shoestring budget, with little time? You bet! But it takes planning and know-how. Each presenter offers solid advice and tips from a different angle. Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension Nutrition Outreach coordinator; Brooke Nissim-Sabat, Pierpont Community and Technical College; Belinda Nicholas and Mollie Poffenbarger, WVU Extension Nutrition Outreach; Kate Marshall, Grow Ohio Valley

Yoga and tai chi for all ages.  Many schools, prisons, and recovery programs are using yoga and tai chi and other mindfulness practices to build self-control and concentration. Older people stay flexible with yoga and tai chi. The Armed Forces use Yoga NIDRA to help vets with PTSD. How can you make it widely available in your community? Amy Snodgrass, Project Yoga; Barbara Steineke and Sue Julian, Laotung Yoga; Ron and Shaka Wilkerson West Virginia tai chi masters; Leslie Drake, Yoga NIDRA


Friday, June 2, Second breakout session:  2:45 – 4:00

If kids grow it, they’ll eat it. Part 1: School gardens are growing all over the state! Teachers are weaving gardening into the classroom day: math, science, etc., with garden objectives connected to CSOs. This one-stop workshop is packed with lots of practical ways to do the same and plan your gardening program  Chuck Talbott, Putnam County, WVU Extension agent and creator, Garden-Based Learning; Jim Rye, creator of North School gardening curriculum; Mandy Curry, founder

Web 2016 conf (5 of 9)** Stress relief without meds: No-cost ways to lower your blood pressure … and beat depression, chronic disease, drug relapse, etc.  Stress is a leading cause of it all. What does research say? How can you use physical activity to increase opportunities for stress reduction in your community?  Aila Accad, The Future of Nursing; Leslie Drake, Yoga NIDRA; Rick Wilson, tai chi; Sam Zizzi, Forest Bathing, Nicole Brown, Ruffner Elementary.  

After school programs: Get kids moving! A smorgasbord of ideas, ranging from do-it-yourself clubs and parent-run soccer clubs to public school afterschool activities, Girls on the Run, and 4-H. And to make it possible: share school facilities with the community in off-hours! Jennifer Wells, Shared Use campaign coordinator;  Michael Farmer, Charleston Resource Center; Nila Cobb, 4H; Jenny Totten, McDowell afterschool programs.

Web 2016 conf (8 of 8)Make your town friendly to bicycles! Make it easier for people in your community to bike for fun! Or bike to the store? Or bike to work? Want to give kids something healthy to do? Attract visitors with biking? This session’s for you!  Dennis Strawn, WV Connecting Communities (statewide); Jean Srodes, Marlinton middle school bike clubs,  Gabe Rousch, Pt. Pleasant Bike Trail Committee;  Jonathan Rosenbaum, Positive Spin, Morgantown.

Community gardening  Five years ago, WV community gardens were hard to find. Now, all over the state, people grow food for themselves and for soup kitchens and pantries. Get creative ideas and resources from some of the best. They can also tell you what roadblocks to expect: Jarrod Dean, Putnam Parks and Rec; Buck Edwards, Buckhannon Community Garden;  Jean Simpson, Manna Meal (Charleston) director; Amy Snodgrass, Wirt County Community Garden

Businesses as active partners: Put your project on the fast track. Hear about successful business-community collaborations that go two ways. Brainstorm ways you can do the same. Kate Greene, WV Brownfields Assistance Center; Kevin Bracken, Bros and Bras Hq;  Elizabeth Shahan, Harrison County Family Resource Center;, Dana DeJarnett, Berkeley Medical Center wellness coordinator; Marty Emerson, Huntington’s Kitchen/ Cabell-Huntington hospitals.

** Write grants that get funded! Are you writing a grant for the first or second time? Maximize your chances for success! Learn from people who know what they’re talking about. You’ll cover: framing your proposal / identifying partners and mission, writing SMART goals, and more! Jamie Jeffrey, M.D., KEYS 4 HealthyKids director; Jessica Wright, Director of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

Parents Creating Healthier Schools. The law requires school wellness councils on the county level and encourages them on the school level. They can be a terrific vehicle for moving your school toward healthy food and activity. Learn how you can help organize or join a school wellness council while you help build a statewide parent network. Jenny Anderson, WV Parents4Wellness; Andy Pense, Office of Child Nutrition coordinator; Brandon Williams, Action for Healthy Kids; Nikki Kiger, Ohio County parent; Kris Bonnell, Doddridge County parent

** Prescribing Prevention: Getting healthcare professionals involved with your community projects Doctors, nurses and dieticians can add so much to our community teams! What roles can they play? How can you partner? Dave Harshbarger, WVU Wellness Center; Dr. Gwen Emory, Finding Wellness; Melanie Seiler, Active Southern WV, Ryan McCarthy, MD and cross-country coach; Dino Beckett, DO, Williamson Wellness Center

Natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms that don’t bust your budget. A natural playground is created from natural materials: hills, tunnels, logs, bamboo. It costs less. Kids love it.  Leave this session with affordable ideas. Hear from a landscape designer and people who give you ideas worth copying. Laura Dice, KEYS 4 HealthyKids; Dave Hill, Landscape Designer, Three Trees Design; Tia Rumbaugh, So-Social Childcare, Huntington; Micha Webb, Mt. Zion Child Development Center, Charleston.


Saturday, June 3, First Breakout Session 1: 10:00 – 11:15

**  How can we help people avoid, control or reverse diabetes and other awful chronic diseases?  How can people in your community get the information they need to avoid, control or reverse diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.? Effective ways to supply that information and support!  Sally Hurst, Director, Greenbrier County Health Alliance, coordinator. Josh Sowards, WV Healthy Bodies Healthy Spirits; Sherry Ellem, Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department;  Mark Cucuzzella, WVU School of Medicine professor.

More fresh food in your community. Want creative ways to make it easier to get fresh food in your community and help your small growers and producers make money and get local food and products? Lots of  ways to keep food money in your community!  Savanna Lyons, Refresh Appalachia; Ken Peralta, Grow Ohio Valley; Thomas Key, Alderson Food Hub;  Cody Addison, WV Food and Farm Coalition

Create a dynamite youth group: These outstanding West Virginia youth and their sponsors will inspire and move you. They’re providing a healthy alternative to drugs and learning to be creative, capable adults who know how to stay healthy and have fun.  Jenny Anderson, coordinator. Students and sponsors from:, High Rocks, Wyoming SADD, FED UP, 4H Ambassadors. Barboursville Community Wellness Youth Council; Charleston Resource Center

Healthy meetings and concessions: Alternatives to heart attack food: Lots of ideas for tasty, affordable food kids and grownups will love (and prepare) that won’t raise their diabetes risk! Sample some!  Kristin McCartney, WVU Extension outreach coordinator; Kerry Gabbert, WVU Extension nutrition outreach instructor; Emily Murphy, WVU Extension obesity specialist;  Barboursville kids and their Healthy Concessions Wagon (Marybeth Freeman, sponsor)

Thinking about a Second Stage grant? Communities mentoring communities. Try This Second Stage grants are for community groups that have developed expertise and want to build on it and share it with other West Virginians, particulary p. This year’s awardees can give you ideas for your own Second Stage grants. Kate Long, Try This; Lauren Kemp, The Wild Ramp; Tim Caudill, Running Resource Network; Doug Penn, Putnam Garden-Based Learning

Web 2016 conf (1 of 6)Do-It-Yourself healthy-community group.  You don’t need to wait for an agency or the state to do it for you! Hear from people who have created great community physical activity groups at very little cost.   How can you make it happen in your community? Adam Flack, Magic Island, Kevin Bracken, Bros and Bras;  Park Ferguson, Wayne County Farmers Cooperative;  Stephanie Bragg, A GROwing Culture

Change a law! Change a rule! How?? How can you affect policy at the local or state level? Real WV examples and really skilled organizers help you figure out how to design a campaign for your issue. Stephen Smith, WV Healthy Kids and Families; Rick Wilson, American Friends Service Committee; Becky Campbell, Pocahontas County School Board; Spencer Moss, Director, WV Food and Farm Coalition.

** Nutrition and Physical Activity: Tools in Drug Recovery. Hear from inspiring West Virginians who use physical activity, nutrition and mindfulness to make it easier for people in recovery and lower the risk of drug abuse. How can your community avoid drug programs that treat people only “from the neck up?” Brooke Nissam-Sabat, dietician; Kathy Brunty, Wyoming County SADD; Jeannie Harrison, GROHuntington;  Emma Morton-Eggleston, WVU School of Medicine

A how-to session: Create a rocking, affordable youth program:   Jump Rope and Cross Country. These programs don’t cost a pile of money! Start one! Or both! In the eastern panhandle, 200+ middle-schoolers run cross country. Flatwoods parents created a big student soccer league. The Village of Barboursville Jump Rope Team challenges you to help them create a statewide league. Come find out how they did it! Ryan McCarthy, Shepherdstown middle-school cross country; Richard Williams, coach and PE teacher, Village of Barboursville Elementary.

Build trails and get people on them!  We’re building and connecting miles of trails to encourage biking, hiking, walking and running.  Water trails are being established to promote paddling. How can we let people know they’re there? How can we fund them and draw people to them? These people have answers! Peggy Pings, National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program; Diana Druga, Harrison RailTrails; Joshua Donahew, WV Community Development Hub

Saturday, June 3, Second Breakout Session:  11:45 – 1:00

Rehab an old building to create a rec center, youth center or food hub! Got an old building? Need help and guidance? Come hear what these people have to say!  They’ve done it!  Kate Greene, WV Brownfields Assistance Center; Michael Farmer, Charleston Family Resource Center and Mason Ballard, Resurrection Church; Charleston; Kathy Brunty, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Wyoming County; Chad Webb, Williamson Health and Wellness Center

Get your public officials on board. How to do it, how not to do it. If public officials understand and support our projects, they go better. How can we get to that position?  Patti Hamilton, Dr. Matthew Rohrbach , Cabell County delegate; Julia Spelsberg, Mayor of Weston; Matthew Wender, Fayette County Commission; Chris Tatum, Barboursville mayor

The long view: Building a healthy community, year by year, block by block. Inspiring community teams think long-term. Each healthy-community project is a building block in their longterm plan. What is your long-term plan?  Get inspired and find out how to get going!  Kate Long, Try This; Linwood (Terry White), Williamson (Dino Beckett), Spencer (Phillip Smith),  Greenbrier Valley (Sally Hurst)

Get your message out all kinds of ways! These three West Virginia projects are successfully getting their message out and drawing people to their projects. How? This presentation will stir up creative ideas about ways you can use social media and paid media and other means to publicize and build your project.  Douglas Imbrogno, multimedia producer and writer, Charleston Gazette-Mail; Alexis Batausa and Nate Siggers, Healthy in the Hills; Bro Bracken, Bros and Bras Hq; Diana Druga, Harrison RailTrails

Web 2016 conf (4 of 9)If kids grow it, they’ll eat it, Part 2 – in the garden!  This hands-on kids’ gardening session takes place in the beautiful Buckhannon community garden, behind the Performance Hall (see map in program). Learn activities you can take home! Ask a volunteer for directions.  Jessica Pollitt, WVU Extension; Buck Edwards, Manager, Buckhannon Community Garden; Kate Marshall, Grow Ohio Valley. Chuck Talbott and Doug Penn, Putnam County Gardening; Bev Stern, Ruthlawn Elementary; Holly Lampl, Alban Elementary.

** Get funded! Part 2.  This session is for people who have already written a few grants and established a track record, but want to sharpen their skills. Three grant-writing pros will help you improve your applications and get ready for bigger grants. They will give you valuation tips on evaluation, sustainability, grant seeking, and more!  Kim Tieman,  Project Officer, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Jamie Jeffrey, KEYS 4 HealthyKids

** ACES. Adverse Childhood Experiences. Solid research tells us that childhood trauma can be an underlying cause of obesity, drug abuse, workplace problems and many othu cer life-damaging problems. Healthy connection with others is a powerful way of Find out more about ACES and how your community program can be therapeutic for a child (or adult) with ACES.  Michael Brumage, MD, Kanawha-Charleston Health Dept.; Emily Murphy, Obesity Specialist, WVU Extension Service; Jeannie Harrison, GRO Huntington.

Run for local office! Have you wished you had the power to make things happen that create a healthier community? Hear from people who ran (and got elected) to put themselves in better position to do that. Find out how you can do it too. Stephen Smith, WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition; Gabe Rousch, Pt. Pleasant City council, Becky Campbell, Pocahontas County School Board; CJ Rylands, Buckhannon City Council.

** How is Medicaid important to your healthy-community program? Spend an hour with a healthcare expert who can help you explore the ways Medicaid policy affects your healthy-community programs and what you can do to help West Virginia adopt constructive policies. Kathleen Stoll, healthcare economist, Health Economist and Director, West Virginians Together for Medicaid

Creative maps can help pull your program together.  Huntington mapped safe biking routes for people who want to ride their bikes to work. WVFoodlink supplies amazing maps of your county’s food resources. Greenbrier County is mapping  parks, recreation centers and trails. What maps can you make that will help people in your community?   Mystik Miller, Greenbrier County Health Alliance;  Thomson Gross, WV Foodlink:WVU Geology Dept.; Breanna Shell, planner,City of Huntington; Peggy Pings, National Park Service


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