AmeriCorps VISTA (“Volunteers in service to America”) is the national service program that works to eliminate poverty. The first VISTAs began serving in 1965 in the migrant farm worker camps in California, the hollows of eastern Kentucky, and the inner city of Hartford, CT. Since then, more than 180,000 VISTAs have served throughout America to expand the capacity of homegrown efforts to address community challenges. Visit www.vistacampus.org to learn more about the VISTA program.
Each year the Appalachian RC&D is supported by a VISTA from the Appalachian Coal Country Team.
The mission of the Appalachian Coal Country Team is to assist rural communities impoverished by environmental degradation and its consequences in making their home-place-watersheds healthier places to live and work. The ACCT is supported by an innovative partnership among the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), concerned with environmental reclamation; AmeriCorps VISTA; and by local community improvement/watershed groups. The ACCT began placing determined, college-trained men and women for a year of service in rural mining communities in 2001. OSM/VISTAs work directly with community members to build local capacity, encourage environmental stewardship, enhance outreach and education, engage in economic development and assist in the professional development of OSM/VISTAs and their sponsoring organizations. With its Support Office in Beckley, WV, the ACCT works throughout seven Appalachian states (Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia) and is sponsored by the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia.” In 2011, ACCT won the Environmental Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior.