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Friends of Deckers Creek spotlights regional artists at 3rd annual Appalachian Voices

In 2022, AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) member Michaela Collins crafted a plan to strengthen the bond between Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) and the rural communities of Preston County through Appalachian Voices, an evening of live poetry, music, storytelling and environmental outreach. From 5:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 24, join FODC for its third annual Appalachian Voices event at Arthurdale Heritage.

FODC, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the 64-square-mile Deckers Creek Watershed spanning from Preston County into Monongalia County, manages the environmental degradation suffered by the watershed over the years while promoting the creek’s wild and wonderful beauty. The FODC headquarters and outdoor learning park are located in Morgantown, and thus many of the organization’s events occur in Monongalia County. Appalachian Voices extends this outreach to Preston County, fostering community engagement around environmentalism and regional culture by connecting guest artists and their work with the audience.

“It is a community-building event. We want people to have a greater appreciation for the region, and we think if people feel more connected to the environment and the earth and their local community, they might be more likely to participate in other events and less likely to contribute to any environmental harm like littering,” said FODC AmeriCorps VISTA and event organizer Noah Carte.

Storytelling is a tradition that stretches through centuries and across cultures worldwide. From song and prayer to poetry and legends, storytelling comes in many forms. Some intend to entertain, others to educate, but above all, storytelling primarily fosters community connection — precisely what Appalachian Voices strives to achieve. The event will showcase the work of six regional artists: Mary Linscheid and Torli Bush sharing poetry, Ann Pancake and Nancy L. Abrams presenting prose, as well as storyteller Jason Burns and musical performer Pamela Trentini, also known as Josephina John. Attendees will enjoy the performances alongside complimentary refreshments of pepperoni rolls from Sugar Plum’s Bakery, brownie bites from Brownie House and wine from Forks of Cheat Winery. This year’s Appalachian Voices is also sponsored by Greer Industries.

While entry to the event is free, it serves as a fundraising opportunity for FODC. Speakers from the organization will introduce and lead intermissions detailing FODC’s mission and ways to support the group’s efforts, including a text-to-donate system available during the event. An FODC informational table will also offer an opportunity to learn more and ask questions.

“[Our mission] can take form in so many different ways,” said Carte. “This kind of community art event might seem like an unconventional way to promote our mission, but we try to reach everyone in every avenue that we possibly can.”

The tradition of Appalachian storytelling often intertwines with environmentalism. Passed down through generations, many stories emphasize the region’s inhabitants’ deep connection with their environment, inspiring a passion for preserving and celebrating the land. By continuing this tradition, attendees can engage with FODC’s dedication to showcasing the beauty and significance of Deckers Creek.

“[Oral storytelling] is a super valuable art form,” said Carte. “I think especially in our region there are a lot of ties to storytelling and passing stories from generation to generation, and having a shared sense of connection between community members who are still with us and people who have passed, and hopefully we can continue to pass on these stories into the future.”

In coming months, FODC will host more opportunities for community members to come together to celebrate and support the environment. On April 6, FODC will host a spring cleanup event along the Deckers Creek Trail, as part of the annual WV Make It Shine Statewide Cleanup. On April 27, the organization’s second annual Save The Frogs Day educational family event will raise awareness about environmental threats to amphibians.

For more information on Appalachian Voices, FODC’s operations and ways to support FODC, visit or