Skip to main content

New partnership focuses on innovative youth leadership program for a just and resilient Appalachia

The WVU Center for Resilient Communities is pleased to announce a new community partnership with Dr. Jen Osha Buysse and the Mountain SOL School. Dr. Osha Buysse, is Director and Co-Founder of Mountain SOL, is an award winning educator, musician and advocate for environmental justice in the Mountain State. She is also a Switzer Fellow and holds a Ph.D. in Geography from WVU.

"This partnership with the CRC is complete game changer for Mountain Sol. In addition to seed funding, which allows us to focus on growing new programs in coal-impacted areas, we are now part of a community of dedicated people who can support us with leadership training, grant writing, financial management, and plans for our future,” says Jen Osha Buysse.

The Mountain SOL School leads youth programs that guide the next generation on the path of environmental awareness and community building. Mountain SOL strives to give students the opportunity to learn teamwork, leadership, and a passion to protect the natural world and cultivate a community of support and acceptance.Students gain practical skills and knowledge such as wilderness survival while learning concepts about nature and the environment. Mountain SOL also works in partnership with Morgantown Learning Academy, a non-profit school for students age PK3-8th grade.

Through the partnership, the CRC will provide modest funding and strategic planning support for Mountain SOL as they seek to grow enrollment and expand access to their wilderness education and leadership programming in marginalized and under-resourced communities. Mountain SOL staff will also be sharing their insights, experience and deep knowledge about building educational programs that raise up resilient children and youth, particularly at the middle school age of 11-15, who are equipped to be community builders, first responders and environmental stewards. Mountain SOL is also exploring opportunities for Eberly College students to intern with the school.

“The Mountain SOL School is a powerful example of how a group of intrepid and devoted environmental educators have transformed the lives of children and youth and set them on a path of service to their families and communities. It is an honor to partner with Jen and the staff of Mountain SOL School as they seek to expand their reach and impact across West Virginia.” explains Dr. Bradley Wilson, Director of the Center for Resilient Communities.

People working

Photo credit: Jesse Wright, WVPB

One result of the nascent partnership are two new programs; one for students at Mason Dixon Elementary in conjunction with the SHACK Neighborhood House in Monongalia County, and another for students in Boone County which is organized in conjunction with the Mother Jones Community Foundation.

This partnership is made possible through the generous support of the One Foundation.

The WVU Center for Resilient Communities is an education, research and development center housed in the Department of Geology and Geography in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.