Lincoln County has been a bit of an outlier among our Innovation Acceleration Strategy (IAS) communities.
While most of the five communities we are working with in the southern part of the state are struggling with the loss of mine jobs, many in Lincoln County are struggling with the decline of something a little closer to the surface – farming and agriculture.
Below is a rundown of the latest projects in Lincoln County we have been able to support with IAS mini-grants. Community leaders hope that these new IAS projects will help introduce farming to the next generation, and begin to market themselves outside county lines.
Growing Young Farmers
David Stowers is a longtime farmer in Lincoln County. He understands that in order for farming to remain a mainstay of the community, it is imperative that young people want to take up the mantle.
That’s why we awarded David and the Agriculture team $2,000 to develop a mentorship program.
David’s idea is to find farmers that will set aside an acre of land so that a local student can grow crops on it. The farmer will advise the student, but ultimately it will be the student’s small scale garden. The grant money will also pay for the farmer to put a deer fence around the acre of land, making it more functional for the student.
The hope is that this will inspire a new generation of farmers that can lead Lincoln County’s agriculture economy into the future.
A Showcase of Local Life and Culture
Along the same line of thinking, Agriculture team member and fellow longtime farmer, Nona Conley, feels like she has identified one major reason young people are not plowing the fields anymore. She senses a loss of community.
Nona thinks that the consolidation of Lincoln County high schools has meant that young people no longer feel connected to the people living and working around them.
She plans to create a cultural event, held at the county-wide high school, that showcases life in Lincoln County.
Nona has been awarded $2,000 to create a festival that includes agriculture, reenactors, local musicians, published writers and anyone else that has had a cultural impact in the area.
She believes that by reintegrating students back into their community they will be more likely to stay, and might even think about becoming farmers.
Recreation and Tourism
We all know one of those people that seem to have their hands in everything.
They give up their time for the betterment of their community, and we see them at every local meeting or event. In Lincoln County, that person is Ric McDowell.
Ric is currently in charge of the county-wide Wastewater Project, which is likely what led him and the Recreation and Tourism team to their project concerning the Guyandotte River.
The team has been tossing around several ideas, but they all agreed that the Guyandotte River was an incredible resource.
Their plan is to increase river usage by increasing marketing for existing river activities, and by creating a new project centered around kayaking in the summer.
We have awarded the team $2,000 for printing materials, kayak rentals and signage along the river.
Arts and Culture
Katie Thacker and her Arts and Culture team have been long-time supporters of the Arts in Lincoln County.
They previously managed the Friends of the Arts building on Hamlin’s Court Avenue, and have plans to bring it back as a Lincoln County Welcome Center.
Katie believes this will be a way to bring all of the Lincoln County projects together. Each of the sector teams has the intention to bring people in from outside the county, and she hopes this welcome center can serve as an informational hub to outsiders.
We have awarded the Arts and Culture team a $2,000 grant to do just that.
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coming out of our IAS communities at The Hub’s IAS blog feed!